Monday, January 25, 2016

The Churches of Blessed Romero


#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy
The Archdiocese of San Salvador has published a list of churches where the faithful can obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. Several of the temples have links to Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero, especially the five that follow, which allow Salvadoran and foreign pilgrims to approach Blessed Romero during the Holy Year and trace his footsteps.

1. The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador.

This was Archbishop Romero’s headquarters during the years of his archbishopric (1977-1980). The unfinished cathedral became the icon of his "Church of the Poor". Here lie his remains, in the cathedral crypt where they were visited twice by Pope Saint John Paul II. It was here that Archbishop Romero celebrated the "Single Mass" after the assassination of Father Rutilio Grande, as well as the funerals of several other murdered priests. Often, a platform was installed on its steps to celebrate Mass outdoors due to the massive participation of the faithful who could not fit inside the church.

2. Chapel at Hospitalito de La Divina Providencia.

Archbishop Romero lived on the grounds of this cancer hospital located in the Miramontes neighborhood, and was assassinated in its chapel on March 24, 1980. Romero had consecrated the chapel in 1974.  The place has become a real pilgrimage site, and the Salvadoran Church is in process of converting the chapel into a formal parish. In addition to the sanctuary, the house where the martyr lived is a small museum which preserves many aspects of his daily life as well as numerous relics.

3. Sacred Heart Basilica (Basílica del Sagrado Corazón).

It was here that Romero gave his famous final homily on March 23, 1980, in which he demanded that the security forces "Stop the repression!". In times when the cathedral was taken by protesters, Archbishop Romero was forced to hold his Sunday Masses in other churches, and the Basilica was often his temporary seat. It also served as the principal church for some time, after Archbishop Romero, while the cathedral was being completed.

4. El Rosario Church.

Located one block from the Metropolitan Cathedral, this church too, an outstanding exemplar of the modern style, was repeatedly an alternative headquarters for Romero during the famous cathedral occupations. El Rosario was involved in hostage dramas, including an episode depicted in the film "Romero" (1989), in which demonstrators sought refuge in the church when the army opened fire on them, and Romero had to come to console the victims.

5. El Señor de las Misericordias Parish (Aguilares).

This was the church of Father Rutilio Grande, whose assassination changed the course of Archbishop Romero’s ministry just when it was about to begin. The Jesuit martyr is buried here. Romero came to the church in March 1977 and "wept for his priest as a mother could do for her own child," in the words of Cardinal Amato. Later, Romero came to retake the church after a military occupation, and also returned to mark the anniversary of “Fr. Tilo”.

The following churches, not included in the Jubilee Year program but also linked to Romero, deserve an honorable mention. The church of San José de la Montaña in the seminary of the same name was where Archbishop Romero took possession as Archbishop in February 1977. The Resurrection Parish in the Miramontes district was where Archbishop Romero debuted his first pastoral letter "The Church of Easter," alongside Fr. Alfonso Navarro, who was killed less than a month later. The Shrine of Fatima in Planes de Renderos was where Archbishop Romero spoke the words quoted by Pope Francis at a general audience last year: "To have the spirit of martyrdom means that one is faithful to one’s obligations, to prayer, to the honest fulfillment of one’s duties,” etc. Likewise, Archbishop Romero preached memorable sermons in Iglesia del Cármen in Santa Tecla, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe ("La Ceiba"), and Holy Innocents in Antiguo Cuscatlán. The last two are places where visitors may obtain a Year of Mercy indulgence.

For both Salvadoran Catholics and visitors to the country, the ability to experience the spirituality of Archbishop Romero for the Jubilee Year can be an incomparable experience.

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