JUBILEE YEAR for the CENTENNIAL of BLESSED ROMERO, 2016 — 2017
|Empty canvas on which new Romero image for the San Salvador Cathedral will be created in connection with his expected canonization. Photo courtesy B. Hernandez.|
The signs that 2018 will be “the year” of Blessed Oscar A. Romero continue to pile up. One of the most recent is the publication in his blog and on Twitter by postulator of the cause Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, of information originally published in this blog on the very subject, suggesting a swift conclusion of the process. [See also Prediction: “Saint Romero,” 2018.]
Asked about the canonization prospects, Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, visiting Barcelona, Spain, responded: “We expect that the news will arrive at any moment.” According to several sources, Cardinal Rosa Chavez added that “the Holy Father is impatient for the day to arrive,” and described the process as a “spiritual earthquake” that awaits his country, insisting that El Salvador is “discovering” Archbishop Romero after his beatification in May 2015.
If what is coming is a “spiritual earthquake”, then Bellini Hernandez, a member of a secular group called Cultura Romeriana in San Salvador, experienced a bit of a foreshock when she arrived at the Metropolitan Cathedral last Sunday and discovered that the images of Romero that had adorned the temple had been removed. Disturbed by the fact, because Cultura Romeriana had donated one of the images, the parishioner decided to question Fr. Francisco Gongora, the pastor of the Cathedral.
“He answered that it is because they are preparing a large altarpiece and likewise a large picture of Archbishop Romero,” says Hernandez, “on the occasion of the canonization of Archbishop Romero.”
Contacted by Super Martyrio, Father Gongora confirmed the plans. “I proposed to the archbishop to make a place in the cathedral dedicated to Archbishop Romero, and since we do not have a chapel, I drafted some plans for him on how to make an altarpiece in line with the background of the presbytery wherein he [Romero] represents the Good Shepherd who walks with his people and that’s how it will be done,” he says.
The Cathedral has undergone a small restoration. Last year, local media reported a donation from Taiwan to help with the process. “Not only has Taiwan donated; there are around eight companies that have donated to allow us to restore the Cathedral,” says the pastor. “All the money that has been received has been fully invested in the works of the Cathedral including the change of sewage pipes and the waterproofing of the interior roof which was in bad shape. In addition, the Crypt has not only been painted but we have also invested through donations from the different companies in the floor, to crystallize it; in the same way the entrance to the Crypt has been decorated with a false ceiling and lighting,” he summarizes.
As a footnote, not everyone is satisfied with these measures. On Facebook, Fr. Héctor Fernando Martínez Espinoza, Vicar General of the Diocese of Tarahumara, Mexico, expressed consternation at the removal of Romero’s images. “We believe that if you are going to put some other image of Romero, you could in the meantime, not remove the picture from Cultura Romeriana, since it is the only explicit reference in the cathedral temple,” the priest wrote from Mexico. Father Gongora dismisses the criticism, asserting that “the Church is hierarchical, not democratic,” and that the decision has been vetted and deserves to be respected, “because I respect each diocesan territory and therefore I ask respect for mine.”
The Cathedral prepares for a canonization, but El Salvador must prepare for a “spiritual earthquake” in which there will surely be many rumblings and murmurings about the best way to receive and venerate the new saint.