As we near the end of the month in which Archbishop Óscar A. Romero was recognized as a martyr and thus, made eligible for beatification, no date has yet been announced for his beatification ceremony. The delay is not seen as anything but a logistical hold-up and the announcement is expected to come soon. (In fact, the Vatican did announce this week the dates for the beatification of the Peruvian churchmen whose martyrdom was approved on the same day that Romero’s martyrdom was approved.)
As time goes by, it seems less likely that the Romero beatification date will coincide with the 35th anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom (March 24—now, too soon) or Romero’s birthday (August 15—too far off and, worse, in the middle of Rome’s end-of-summer hiatus). If the authorities were looking for another date with some significance, they might consider one that appears to fall within the planning “sweet spot” and has significance that Archbishop Romero himself might have approved. Sunday June 21, the date of the summer solstice, will also mark the 45 anniversary of Romero’s episcopal ordination in 1970. Romero’s elevation to the episcopate was organized by his friend Fr. Rutilio Grande, who was killed shortly after Romero was named Archbishop in 1977, and whose beatification cause was recently opened (photo).
Romero picked June 21st for the ceremony in which he was ordained a bishop because of his devotion to the Virgin Queen of Peace, the Patroness of his native San Miguel, whose feast day is November 21, which Romero remembered every month of the year. Five years later, the date would figure prominently again in Romero’s life when, on June 21, 1975, the Salvadoran army committed a peasant massacre at a hamlet called Las Tres Calles, in Romero’s rural diocese of Santiago de María. The incident triggered an awakening in Romero to the brutal reality of peasant life in El Salvador, which flourished more fully when he was archbishop. June 21 was also the date of Romero’s last audience with Pope Bl. Paul VI, which he recalled fondly in a pastoral letter. Paul, Romero wrote, “confirmed our episcopal service when, on that unforgettable June 21, he spoke to us with the tenderness of a father [who] was already aware of the approach of death” (the Pope passed away the following August 6).
Super Martyrio will continue to monitor developments and provide an update every Friday regarding plans for the beatification, as well as for commemorations of Romero's anniversary in March and his birthday in August. And when there is no news to report (like this week), I will console you with miscellaneous musings to pass the time while we await real developments!
Read last week’s update here.