JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
In El Salvador, the Jubilee of Mercy, decreed by Pope Francis for the Universal Church, comes to an end, but the Jubilee for the Centenary of Blessed Oscar A. Romero, inaugurated by the Archdiocese of San Salvador since August of this year until August next year, goes on. The Holy Year of Mercy concludes in most of the world’s dioceses on Sunday, when the Church commemorates the Solemnity of Christ the King, which ends the liturgical year, but in El Salvador the closing will be on Monday the 21st, Feast of Our Lady Queen of Peace, the Co-Patron of the nation.
The feast also has significance for Romero, since the Virgin is venerated in San Miguel, birthplace of the martyred bishop, and the care of her image was entrusted to him when he was a young priest. Romero was a devotee of the Virgin all his life (photo), and he remembered this feast on the 21st of each month, which is why he chose June 21 for his episcopal ordination. The image of the Virgin was displayed at the altar of Romero’s beatification in May 2015. All the bishops of the country will be present and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Leon Kalenga, will preside at the closing Mass of the Jubilee Year of Mercy in the San Miguel Cathedral on Monday the 21st.
However, Blessed Romero’s Jubilee Year will continue, and the faithful will be able to gain indulgences by visiting his tomb in the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Chapel of the Hospitalito de la Divina Providencia (site of his martyrdom) and his native town of Ciudad Barrios, praying for the intentions of Pope Francis and for peace in the country through August of next year. (See: Jubilee Decree.) San Salvador Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, explained to Super Martyrio the activities that the Archdiocese will observe though the rest of the Centennial, including the Prayer of the Blessed Romero Chaplet every Sunday in the Crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral: “that prayer is very important for us.”
The Blessed’s successor added: “We are also reflecting in groups in each parish the beautiful material that our Episcopal Conference has prepared for each of the three years in preparation for the great Jubilee of Archbishop Romero’s Centennial. In addition to that we have the pilgrimage of Archbishop Romero’s relics through all the parishes of the country; they have already passed through several dioceses, and will end in our archdiocese, precisely in August 2017 in his Centennial. In each parish there are different activities with the passage Archbishop Romero’s relics, prayers, reflections, songs and processions. Also, as we have said, during the Jubilee Year, the meeting of CELAM and the SEDAC will take place in our country in honor of Archbishop Romero and there are other activities being planned, some at the parish level, others at the vicariate level, at the diocesan level, and at the national level.”
The relics of Blessed Romero will conclude their pilgrimage throughout the country according to the following itinerary:
November-December2016 Diocese of Chalatenango
January-February 2017 Diocese of Santiago de María
March-April 2017 Diocese of Sonsonate
May 2017 Military Ordinariate of El Salvador
June 2017 onwards Archdiocese of San Salvador
On another front, the preparations for the CELAM meeting to commemorate the centenary are also under way. An article by Vatican watcher Austen Ivereigh, author of a leading biography of Pope Francis, has once again raised hopes that the pontiff will visit the land of Romero during the next year. Ivereigh referred to the 20th anniversary of the landmark «Ecclesia in America» (1997) of Saint John Paul II, around the same time.
“The obvious time and place” to commemorate it, Ivereigh wrote, “would be May 2017 in El Salvador, when the Latin-American Church will celebrate two of its own anniversaries: both the 10th anniversary of the CELAM General Conference at Aparecida, Brazil, whose concluding document is in many ways the charter for this papacy, as well as the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero, the Salvadoran martyr. It will be hard to imagine Pope Francis resisting such an invitation, as well as the opportunity personally to canonize Romero in situ. And if the bishops from the U.S. and Canada were present also, to celebrate the anniversary of the great inter-American synod, it will be a powerful and prophetic continental Catholic moment of bridge-building to counter the new walls.”