Thursday, April 30, 2015

Romero beatification update #15

Like a city that seems clearer on the horizon as the viewer approaches it, the beatification ceremony for Archbishop Óscar A. Romero can be seen in greater detail each week. According to advance previews given to the press by event organizers and other information obtained by Super Martyrio, the activities related to the beatification of the martyr-bishop will last three days from Friday evening to Sunday’s Mass. In the climactic hours, Romero will be beatified before an ocean of ​​people in a ceremony that will last three hours, full of poignant details.
The scene, which would have been unthinkable during the last days of Archbishop Romero—a time of tensions between Romero and the other bishops—will begin with a procession of two hundred bishops wearing chasubles blazoned with Romero’s episcopal coat of arms.  The bishops who have confirmed their presence come from fifteen different countries. From Central America and the Caribbean: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba and Puerto Rico. From South America: Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. From North America: United States and Mexico. From Europe: England and Italy. Finally, from Oceania: Papua N. Guinea.

Among the bishops will be six cardinals: Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, Cuba; Leopoldo Brenes of Managua Nicaragua; Roger Mahony of Los Angeles; and José Luis Lacunza of Panama.
His last day on earth, Romero asked a collaborator to build a platform for the outdoor Mass on the following Palm Sunday. That construction would have paled in comparison to the "shrine" that the bishops have commissioned as the main altar for beatification, which will be installed in the Divine Savior Plaza two weeks before the beatification, and which includes computer models for demonstration. The construction in the Savior of the World, will include two towers of three levels each for the press, and tents to accommodate VIP guests at the ceremony.
In the weeks before his assassination, Romero’s enemies bombed the antenna of the radio station transmitting Romero’s sermons. That station, the historic YSAX, will go back on the air on May 23, the day of the beatification. Also, the beatification pavilion will feature a large image of Our Lady of Peace, Patroness of El Salvador, whom Romero cared for in the early years of his priesthood. The principal patron of the country is the Divine Savior of the World, whose image is central in the square where the beatification will take place.
Against these minute details stand the large scale touches. The Salvadoran Church is trying to arrange for Pope Francis to greet the faithful from the Vatican via the 50 giant television screens placed throughout the city. Even if that does not come to be, the ceremony already figures as a historic event for El Salvador: Nine presidents have confirmed their participation, including Rafael Correa of ​​Ecuador, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras and Ireland’s Michael D. Higgins.
The event is projected to cost around half a million dollars, but the Church says that it will keep costs down by using all rented equipment and accepting donations from sister churches to cover the costs. [For more operational details, see my previous report.]
Everything starts on Friday May 22 in the evening in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the resting place of the mortal remains of the soon to be Blessed. At 5:30 pm, there will be a large scale procession from the Cathedral to the Divine Savior Plaza, the site of the beatification. There the faithful will remain for an overnight vigil, crowd control during the vigil divided into blocks and assigned to various groups over the course of the night: the Romero Foundation, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Claretians.
At 7 am Saturday May 23 the beatification sequence begins with several acts of welcome and introduction. Separately, the clergy will begin to get organized at the nearby San Jose de la Montaña Seminary at 8:00 am, and will begin processing to the plaza at 9:30 am. As previously reported, the Mass will begin at 10:00 and the Rite of Beatification will come in the first part of the Mass. However, the Eucharist will run for three hours, and will end at approximately 1 pm with the final blessing.
During the beatification Mass, a relic of Romero will be exposed on the altar.  The object of veneration will be the shirt Romero was wearing when he was killed, pierced with a tiny bullet puncture and stained with the martyr’s blood.  A 125-member choir will perform during the ceremony; it is actually several pre-existing choirs that have been grouped into one a large super-choir assembled just for the occasion. In its Facebook page you can view videos that show the advanced state of their rehearsals.
On Sunday May 24, on the Day of Pentecost, there will be a Mass of thanksgiving in the cathedral at 8 am. In fact, all the Sunday Masses will be masses giving thanks for the beatification of Archbishop Romero as per the instructions of the episcopal conference.

Finally, happy birthday Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia!  Everything that’s happening would not be possible without your work for the past two decades.  God bless you.
Super Martyrio will continue to monitor developments and provide an update regarding the ongoing beatification plans.  [Read my last update here.]
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