Barbastro and Logroño
Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás was born in Barbastro (Huesca, Spain) on 9 January, 1902. Both sides of his family had strong cultural and Christian traditions, mostly due to their Spanish and Aragonese heritage. His parents were José Escrivá y Corzán and María de los Dolores Albás y Blanc. He received a clear example of faith and piety from both of them. He was baptized in Barbastro and completed his initiation to the Christian life there. He went to the School of the Piarists in Barbastro, where he studied through his middle school and some of his high school years, which he finished in the National Institute of Logroño. His family had moved to Logroño in 1915.
José Escrivá and Dolores Albás had their first daughter, Carmen, in 1899, followed by Josemaría and then three more daughters. The early 1910 were especially difficult years for the family. The couple's three youngest daughters had died and a significant financial upset led the family to move from Aragón to La Rioja, a nearby region in Spain. These events left a lasting impression on Josemaría, although his personality never became bitter as a result of it, and his spirit was never broken.
When he was 16, he felt that God was calling to him when he saw the footprints of a Carmelite monk who had been walking barefoot through the snow-covered streets of Logroño. After that, he began to feel that God wanted him to do something special, although he did not yet know what that might be. He decided to set aside his plan to study Architecture, in order to pursue the priesthood. He was convinced that this would make him completely free to do whatever it was God wanted of him. A long period of faith and intense prayer followed. For years he would repeat the prayer "Lord, that I may see! Lord, that I may see! Mary, that it may be!" It was a short prayer that showed a lifetime of faith, trust and his determination to do the will of God.