Blessed Oscar Romero, beloved bishop, martyr, and spiritual guide, will be canonized on October 14th, 2018.
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born August 15, 1917 to Santos Romero and Guadalupe de Jésus Galdámez in Ciudad Barrios in the San Miguel department of El Salvador. Ordained priest in Rome in 1942 and auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Salvador in 1970, Romero spent his career as a pious and tradition-minded cleric.
On February 23, 1977, Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador. Many priests were disappointed, especially those openly supportive of Marxist ideology. On March 12, 1977, Rutilio Grande, a Jesuit priest and personal friend of Romero, was assassinated. His murder impacted Romero deeply; he would go on to say of his friend: "When I looked at Rutilio lying there dead I thought, 'If they have killed him for doing what he did, then I too have to walk the same path.'"
Romero came to devote himself to the poor, particularly through his critique of the torture, disappearance, and murder of poor people which had become part of the daily fabric of life in El Salvador. His sermons, demanding social justice for poor people and standing up to politicians and military leaders, reached hundreds of thousands of people via radio broadcasts.
Romero was assassinated on March 24, 1980 while offering Mass in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence. The Funeral Mass on March 30 was attended by more than 250,000 mourners. At his funeral, the army opened fire, killing dozens of mourners. The 12-year civil war which began around the time of his murder left more than 75,000 people dead and thousands more disappeared. Though no one was ever convicted for his assassination, the UN-created Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that extreme-right wing politician and death squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson had given the order.
In 1997, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon Oscar Romero the title of “Servant of God,” when his cause for canonization was opened. He was declared a martyr in February of 2015 and beatified on May 23rd of that same year. In March of 2018, Pope Francis announced that Romero was to be canonized. Long recognized as a “people’s saint” in El Salvador, Romero’s canonization marks a recognition of his commitment to the gospel of human dignity.