Montse enshrined joy, vitality and generosity.  Her character also came to the fore in sports. When she played tennis, she would run all over the court to battle for each point because she did not like to lose. Montse lived life intensely both in relation to God and others as her faith deepened. Tragically, she died very young a little before the age of 18, with many unfulfilled dreams and much yet to be achieved. Yet hers was a happy life for she lived it to the full, close to God. The life of each of us might be likened to a great match in which victory is assured if only we have God playing at our side in a game of doubles.

A great team

Montse was born in Barcelona (Spain), in a flat in the Eixample district. She took her first steps under the watchful eye of her parents and her brother Enrique, a year older than her.

Over the years, the Grases’ flat becomes cramped as the family grew with more children: Jorge, Ignacio, Pilar, the twins María José and Cruz, Rosario and Rafael.

Her father Manuel, worked as an Industrial Technical Engineer, while her mother, Manolita, took care of the house and the children. The boys’ studied at La Salle school, while the girls go to Las Damas Negras school.

Roll the cursor over the faces to see the names

At the beginning of the 50s, the company in which  Manuel worked went bankrupt and he had to look for another job. The Grases slashed their outgoings, sold the car, and pawned the jewels to make ends meet. Despite all the sacrifices they were forced to make, they decided to keep their children on at good schools to ensure their Christian education. The family’s summer holidays were limited to a break at the seaside or up in the mountains, and the odd film at the local cinema Manolita was hard-pressed to look after the large family so soon the older children, Enrique and Montse, pitched in to help with the housework and look after the little ones, who were blissfully unaware of the hardships the family was going through.

Your family shares so many unforgettable moments. However, if love is lacking, joy is lacking; and authentic love is given to us by Jesus.

Pope Francisco
Letter to families

The parents’ Christian faith showed in several aspects of the family home. One of the rooms was presided over by a carving of The Virgin of Montserrat, which Manuel had lovingly restored. Since they were little, Montse and her brothers learnt from their parents to greet The Virgin, kiss her or leave a flower on the mantelpiece. At night the parents counted the rosary beads in front of that same image and on Sunday they all went together to Mass.  The Grases also encouraged Christian behaviour. The children were taught never to lie nor to speak ill of others. They were also taught to care for books and personal items.

Carving of The Virgin of Montserrat in the Grases family’s home.

My God, make us good, Enrique, Jorge, Ignacio, Pilar, Cruz, Jose, Rosario, Rafael and me.

The Prayer that Montse said every night

On Saturdays they would meet with the parents in a kind of ‘Family Council’, to talk over minor household matters. There Montse and Enrique tried to assert their status as adults. Although they did not always get their way, there was an ever-growing sense of unity between the two eldest children.

Between plants and sports

Montse started Secondary School and at the same time, studied music theory and piano at Guiteras Academy. On Sundays, she helped in the religious education taught by the nuns in the city outskirts, to which she often brought books, toys, and sweets for children.

Montse had a strong, lively character. She was an active girl and enjoyed the companionship of others. Montse was also quick to rise to challenges, which is why she loved sport. While she played to win, she also knew how to lose gracefully. She played tennis and ping-pong, and at school, she played basketball.

Responsable, attentive, sober, strong Smart, practical, tenacious, passionate about music and sports Cheerful, optimistic, enthusiastic, sociable, a little bit bossy Virtude de Montse Alive, with initiative, determined, open to new challenges Simple, naive, with strong opinions, quick to correct Sensible and generous, cared about others, prayed to god for others


Over the years, the Grases spend their holidays in Vallvidrera, Calella, and Seva, the latter a village nestling in the Montseny mountain range. There, in the summer Montse went hiking with her family and friends.. Many of them shared their Christian faith and, as teenagers, forged a tradition of going to church before going on a hike. On their return, they would go into the church for a few minutes to visit Jesus in the tabernacle. Montse did not take ‘holidays’ when it came to showing her love for God.

Montse and Mª Luisa in Seva

After Mass we hovered around the church door, chewing the fat.

Mª Luisa Xiol
Friend of Montse, summer in Seva

Montse enjoyed herself in Seva, where she loved walking, dancing, and singing. She was a cheerful girl and her joy was catching. With her friends she climbed the surrounding mountains, such as the Matagalls (5,568 feet). During the summer, the group rehearsed a play for the benefit of the parish. As the summer drew to a close, they would perform the play before the villagers and local holidaymakers.


Montse studied hard, while continuing her music classes and helping at home. She was a clever, practical girl and she passed the first three courses at Las Damas Negras school but had problems with some of the subjects. At the beginning of 1955 a sac formed in the wall of her small intestine — a condition that forced her to stay in bed for several weeks, making her lose several months of schooling. She finally completed the Elementary Baccalaureate in June 1956.

Montse with her classmates at the Niño Jesús school

I admired Montse because she was strong, determined, and enthusiastic. Although we did not become friends, she was good company. I was deeply affected when I got back from the holidays and saw her obituary. It still hits me every time that I speak to Montse in my prayers as if nothing had happened.

Carmen Heredia
Classmate of Montse Grases at las Damas Negras school from 1951 onwards


In October 1955 Montse went to Llar , (an Opus Dei centre on Muntaner Street, Barcelona) for the first time. Montse took to the place like a duck to water.

The people who lived in Llar at that time and the girls of Montse’s age describe her as an extraordinarily cheerful and rather mischievous girl.

Montse in 1955

She was very lively, affectionate, and above all, very cheerful. One afternoon, while I was giving private lessons around the table in a room, I suddenly felt the table move. Hidden under the tablecloth were Montse and Ana Maria, who after giving me the surprise of my life, ran out, laughing. Later on, I learnt that Montse was worried that she might have upset me.

Marijé Luna
Resident of Llar in 1954

On the very first day, she signed up for piano lessons but also helped out with practical things, because Llar has little in the way of materials. After a while, she began attending talks on Christian training, and prayers held by a priest, with whom one could hold confession. Llar swiftly became Montse’s second home.

Montse had become a teenager with a strong, clear personality. She was steadily growing to know herself and strove to soften and temper her character. Those who knew her well saw the changes in her. It was at this point that Montse decided to sign up for the match of her life, where what was really at stake was her own happiness and that of others.

Signing up for the great tournament

Montse matured quickly. She realised how much her parents worked to help her family get ahead and she strove ever harder in caring for her siblings and helping around the house. In Llar, she began asking for advice on how she could improve. She started to place greater value on studying and using her time wisely. She imparted religious education in the Montjuïc district’s slums, visited sick children in the Hospital of San Juan de Dios, and helped to raise funds for The Red Cross.

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In this daily improvement tournament, she did not play alone. In the training talks she got in Llar, she learnt to address God in a new way: in which she discovered him as Father. Montse also spent time talking with Jesus Christ in the oratory. She strove to become aware of his presence throughout the day, often going to Mass and making small sacrifices such as walking to save the tram fare or getting up earlier.

Montse made ever more friends, who are drawn from widening circles :the Seva group, the school, the Barcino Tennis Club, Llar. Furthermore, the bonds of friendship were becoming stronger. She began to share her feelings with her friends, which made her happy, especially her interest in getting closer to God. She told all her friends about Llar and invited them to receive the same spiritual help that had done her so much good.

Montse and Enrique in the Montseny, summer of 1955

After the summer holidays of 1956, Enrique, the oldest of the Grases, aged 16, told his family of his plans to become a priest. This news brought Montse. great joy. She always felt very close to her brother, and perhaps Enrique’s decision to dedicate his life in God’s service would influence her later vocation. In the autumn, aged 15, she took the step of attending her first spiritual retreat with two friends.

Montse wanted to become a nurse but she was still too young to start Nursing Studies and would have to wait another two years. Her parents suggested she enrol in the Women’s Domestic Crafts and Artistic Trades School, run by the Barcelona Provincial Council. The subjects taught there — sewing, dressmaking, drawing, cooking, art and crafts — did not enthuse her but she has discovered the value of a job well done and this encouraged her to learn new skills and do her best.

My dear young people, only Jesus knows what is in your hearts and your deepest desires. Only He, who has loved you to the end (cf. John 13.1), can fulfil your aspirations.

John Paul II
Message for the XVIII World Youth Day

A new horizon

It was October 1957 and the beginning of a new school year. Enrique, had obtained his Higher Baccalaureate, and entered the Barcelona diocesan seminary. Montse practised nursing at the Hospital de San Pablo.

Months before, in a conversation with her friend Rosa, the theme of her vocation to Opus Dei came up. Montse’s reaction was one of bewilderment. With her natural honesty, she told her mother about the conversation and stopped going to Llar for a while. In the meantime, she kept praying and searching her conscience to find the voice of God.

Montse and some friends in Castelldaura, 1958

Now she decided to attend a second spiritual retreat with a view to thoroughly examining what God’s plans for her life were. The first thing that she and Ana María did when they got to Castelldaura, the retreat house, was to find which bed had the fluffiest, most comfortable mattress. Once the best one was chosen, Montse leapt onto the bed… only for it to breaks beneath her. It was not the best start.

Yet the following days were to prove a watershed for Montse, who returned with renewed enthusiasm for what God asked of her. She prayed fervently to The Virgin and each night she briefly delved into her conscience in her quest for self-improvement. The weeks passed until, length, she grasps that if she surrendered herself to God, He in turn would lend her His Strength. Montse shared her thoughts with her parents, who advise her to think calmly and make her own choice. They say that she might like to talk to another priest they know and who does not work at Llar. Finally, after meditating and praying on her own, Montse asks for admission to Opus Dei. It was Christmas Eve 1957.

Montse in Llar, 1958

A new horizon opened up for her. His dealings with God and the desire to make others happy become the core of her life. From then on, she was even more attentive in the daily Mass, prayers, and the reading of The Gospel, recitation of the rosary, the hours of class offered to God. The change was also evident in her growing sensitivity towards others. She sought to help her parents in everything she could, she showed the patience of Job with her siblings, and she spent a lot of time with her friends, to whom she spoke about Jesus Christ. Everyone notices the joy that infused Montse.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, in the 1950s.

"You cannot imagine, Father, how happy I am."

Letter of February 12, 1958 to the founder of Opus Dei, whom everyone in Opus familiarly calls "Father".

This is how Enrique describes his sister Montse’s relationship with the disease: “Pain challenged her but she overcame it. She was passionate about tennis and the whole thing was like a tennis match against pain. This match was always hard fought because there was no halfway house — either the pain wins or you do, by defeating it. Montse had the courage to look pain face to face: You are pain –she thought– but I shall use you to win!  Montse turned her illness into an instrument of co-redemption“.

A match against the pain

A few days before asking for admission to Opus Dei, Montse began to feel discomfort in her left leg. At home they put it down to a fall while skiing and gave little thought to it. But over the weeks the pain worsened and her parents decided to take her to see a doctor.

The vitamins that had been prescribed had had no effect, so the doctors put Montse’s leg in plaster as a precaution. This only worsened the pain and after a few weeks they had to remove the cast. Montse’s long trek from specialist to specialist began but nobody could pin down the source of the pain. She found it ever harder to walk. in June 1958 Montse’s father received the final diagnosis: Ewing’s Sarcoma, a highly malignant bone cancer of young people that gave Montse just a few months to live.

Manuel and Manolita decided to only tell their daughter that she has a tumour and that she should start radiotherapy. Meanwhile, they strove to follow normal family life. They went to Seva, although Montse stayed in Barcelona on treatment days. She was not worried: she was young (her 17th birthday fell on the 10th of July), she was full of enthusiasm for her new vocation, and she trusted that God would give her the health to live it.

"Whatever you want"

As the days went by, Montse saw her parents’ worry and guessed that they were keeping something from her. She asked Llar’s Director: Do you know what is happening to me?  When returning from Seva one weekend, at night, when the children were already in bed, Montse easked her parents to tell her exactly what she had. When she heard, she suggested having her leg amputated. But her parents had already asked the doctor: amputation would not help. Montse only said: What a pity! Then she bade them goodnight and went to her bedroom.

Her mother saw her kneeling before the Virgin of Montserrat and praying before going to bed. Manolita went in to have a word with her daughter. Montse told her mother that she had prayed to The Virgin for ‘good luck’. Later on, Manolita would learn that Montse had in fact only uttered the words “Whatever you want”  to the statue of The Virgin.

Dear young people, do not fear to face these challenges! Never lose hope. Be brave, even in difficulties, remaining steadfast in your faith. You may be certain that in every circumstance you are cherished and protected by the love of God, who is our strength.

Benedict XVI
Speech in Ancona (Italy), September 11, 2011

From now on, Montse lived as she had planned before getting sick, namely with a full commitment to God and to others. She had hoped her adventure that would last many years, and that she might even go to Paris to help start the first residence for university students. Yet God had other plans in store for her and she trusted that with His Grace she will be able to embark on the same divine adventure on each day of the time that she had left.

Montse took her radiotherapy sessions in good humour. Her leg was getting ever darker. She noticed the change but did not make a fuss when getting into a taxi to go to the hospital. When she saw that her fully-stretched leg would not fit on the back seat, she joked that she needed a bespoke taxi.

She went to Seva when the treatment came to an end. The neighbours were astonished to see how happy she was. Since the radiotherapy had given her back a little mobility, she dared to go cycling, pedalling with just one leg to go to mass with her friends. She did her utmost to keep up her pastimes: sport, bathing in river pools, dancing sardanas, theatre. The only thing that now lay beyond her was climbing Matagalls.

Irrepressible joy

At the end of September, she returned to Barcelona and the pains that had subsided after radiotherapy became more acute. Yet she tried to lead as normal a life as possible. She had enrolled in the Women’s Domestic Crafts and Artistic Trades School but after a few months she was forced to stop going to class. In spite of the physical difficulties and moments of discouragement,  she strove to practice her faith which only grew stronger following her request to join Opus Dei. She wrote down her daily dealings with God in her notebook every night as she worked on improving her character, and better fulfilling God’s purpose the next day. She did not stop talking about God to all her friends and took a deep interest in people she barely knew. His family and friends noted her waxing mildness, strength and patience, all fruits of her faith and openness to God’s Grace.

There were moments of uncertainty. In Llar she told the Director that she sometimes made a mess of things when asking God for his healing or not.

And when I get in such a mess, I tell The Virgin to suit herself.

Yet Montse’s humour never flagged. One day, one of her friends was driving a motorbike-and-sidecar and spotted Montse at a bus top. He asked her if she would like to hop in. Montse said smiling: I want to hop in but I am not sure my leg does.

At the end of November her health swiftly began to worsen, her leg swole alarmingly, making venturing out ever harder. In those moments, Montse struggled to be happy and to cheer up the lives of others. At the same time she strove to be closer to God with each passing day in both her prayers and in a thousand other little ways.

A trip to Rome

Seeing the speed with which his daughter’s health was going downhill, Montse’s parents decided to do something that will mean the world to her, notwithstanding the impact it would have on the family’s slender resources: a lightning trip to Rome. In November Montse spent four days in The Holy City. She attended the Angelus with The Pope and visited St. Peter’s Basilica. She also met the founder of Opus Dei, Saint Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer, and lived in a residence with other young people from Opus Dei. Despite her exhaustion, she fondly recalled the trip during the following months, exclaiming: What a joy those days were!


Christmas was spent in bed, in the room with the statue of The Virgin, a brighter space, accompanied by her family. From then on, she would hardly leave home. The pain was frightful — It is as if a dog were constantly biting my leg, she would sometimes say. Even so, Montse kept conveying the same joy and good humour as always. She tried hard to make everyone around her happy and that is why she learnt to play the guitar in bed. Sometimes she hummed a song and asked everyone to sing along. When her father, too choked with emotion to sing, hid behind the newspaper, Montse told him: Dad, I cannot hear you… I want you to be happy.

Seeing her like this, many of her friends found it hard to believe that she really was so sick. Behind her attitude were details that suggested great sacrifice: She never said no to visits; she arranged when they could come and see her; she apologised for the work she made for others; she only spoke of the pain she was in with her parents and a few people from Opus Dei. Her mother sometimes hesitated to let friends visit, fearing that they will leave her daughter exhausted. Yet Montse insisted: Mum, we’re not put here on this Earth to do whatever we want — let them in.

If a new medicine comes out, I’ll take it; If they have to cut my leg off, let them. If the Good Lord wants me to die… then I’ll die. I fight because I want to live, because I belong to Opus Dei, because I want to serve God, because I want to save my parents suffering. I love life but if God wants me to die, then I shall… because I can also help from Heaven.

In the midst of great sorrows, Montse sought to unite herself ever more with Jesus on The Cross. Her enforced physical inactivity was accompanied by an intense dialogue with God. Some days she could not read or write. Sometimes she invited someone to accompany her in prayer: We shall pray a little or Can you read The Gospel to me?   Those around her were moved to see how she had accepted her life as an offering to God and how God was present in her fibre of her soul, giving her a joyful serenity.

I have sighed on occasions and begun to beseech The Lord but I caught myself in time and said “But Thou shalt console me”.

Montse’s life is ebbing fast. Her family and Llar’s do not leave her unattended. Instead, they minister to both her bodily and spiritual needs as the dark day nears. Finally, on the 26th of March, Maunday Thursday, the wellspring of life runs dry, with the small cross that Montse had kissed so often still clasped in her lifeless hands.

Montse enshrined that spirit of victory because she knew that God does not lose battles. She also knew that God's love is always stronger than death. She knew how to give everyone the love that lay within her, and she had outmatched pain, drawing upon the suffering of Christ on The Cross, with God alongside her as her tennis partner. With God on her side, it was she who won game, set, and match. I think that is part of my sister’s message to us. She turned all that pain into pure Love.

Montse’s eldest brother

Montse’s life and death left none of us who knew her untouched. Montse’s message still rings in my ears: Rest assured, I shall help you from heaven and never leave your side.

The gold medal of holiness

The burial took place on Easter Saturday in Barcelona’s Montjuïc Cemetery. A week later, the funeral was held in the parish of Pilar. It was attended by her parents, her brothers and her friends, for whom she done everything in lifeto make them happy. There was Enrique, who was still preparing for the priesthood. There was little Nacho, for whom Montse always picked up veneers from the floor for his collection, despite having to bend over with her badly swollen leg. There was Mari Carmen, who recalled how Montse convinced her three months earlier to make a knitted sweater between them and to give it away as part of the Llar’s giving of Christmas presents. There was also the priest who had held communion with her every day for Montse’s last months.

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Those who knew her well believe Montse was very close to God. Soon after, many people began asking for Montse’s divine intercession with The Good Lord. Soon a brief prayer for the private devotion of Montse Grases was broadcast. On the 19th of December 1962, the informative process of her canonization cause began.

In May 1992, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decreed the validity of the process and, in April 2016, Pope Francis declared the heroism of Montse Grases virtues, venerable on her.

By declaring her venerable, the Church indicates that Montse is an example worthy of devotion and emulation by the Catholic faithful; and that also encourages us to ask for her intercession to obtain favours from heaven.

Mons. José Luis Gutiérrez
Postulator, 27th April 2016

The publication of several newsletters andand various texts on Montse helped spread news of her life and her message across the planet. Her reputation for holiness has spread to the four corners of the world. People write in every day to the “oficina del postulador” describing favors received through Montse’s divine intercession.

In 1994, the remains of Montse Grases were transferred to the crypt of The Oratory of Santa Maria de Bonaigua, in Barcelona, ​​in a chapel presided over by the image of The Virgin of Montserrat, before which she so often prayed. Many people go there daily to ask for her help and intercession, attracted by the sincere joy of someone who lived her short life to the full and who unstintingly served God.

The Montse Grases Route

This map shows the locations of the most important places in Montse’s life: the family home, the summer resorts, the schools where she studied, and the former Llar headquarters, among others.
See the map