Wednesday, May 30, 2018



Most recent cover of the San Salvador Archdiocesan weekly, Orientación.

#BlessedRomero #Beatification

This is the first of several blogposts that I plan to publish with regard to going to Rome for the canonization of Archbishop Romero—or taking part in the event in some other way. Therefore, this is only an overview of the issues, some of which will be discussed in more detail in future installments. (I have been asked to talk about prices, itineraries, etc., and I’m going to go into that a bit, but I also need to touch on various other topics.)

In general, there are two great possibilities for Romero’s devotees to be part of this historic event: (1) by going to Rome to witness the ceremony in person or (2) staying where you are (for example, El Salvador) and participating spiritually to the fullest extent possible. One of the points that I want to emphasize is that, when we analyze it thoroughly, we discover that there is no superior or inferior option; in fact, from different standpoints, both are extremely important and equally valid.

The two groups can take inspiration from the words of the saint who beckons them to participation. To those who can go to Rome, Romero says, “my sisters and brothers, it is wonderful to think about our Church as a missionary and pilgrim Church, for this implies that all of us, who are members of this Church, are also a pilgrim people.” (August 21, 1977 Homily.) Romero encourages them on their journey, saying that “we all have to go forward with the pilgrim’s staff in our hands.” Those who can go to Rome should go as pilgrims and missionaries, to give testimony in Rome of who Archbishop Romero is, and of his reality and Salvadoran historical context, and to soak up the spiritual significance of Romero’s canonization in Rome.

To those who cannot make the trip, Romero says: “not everyone is called to serve in those missionary vanguards”, for different economic, cultural or personal reasons. “We, however, as part of the rear guard, this army that conquers the world for God and for the faith, we also have to be missionaries.” Those who remain, who are in reality the vast majority of Salvadorans, have to go out to the streets to evangelize El Salvador with Romero’s message, to convert Salvadoran society with that message, and to sanctify the people so that they can again be Romero’s people in El Salvador. And in many ways this is the biggest and most important challenge in this process of sanctification.


In practical terms, those who go to Rome will participate in the canonization ceremony of Archbishop Romero and five other saints—the standout being Pope Paul VI. The canonization will take place during an open-air mass presided by Pope Francis, which will be held in St. Peter’s Square, in front of the Vatican Basilica on Sunday, October 14, probably beginning at 10 o’clock in the morning. However, the event will take up most of the first half of that day, since you have to arrive early to enter the Square, and the ceremony itself will last approximately two hours. Roman pilgrims will also have the possibility of attending a Thanksgiving Mass for Romero devotees the following day, Monday, October 15. Here is the calendar that we know so far:

10 am - Papal General Audience –  St. Peter’s Square
SIGNIS event with Card. Rosa Chavez –
Mass for the Canonizations  St. Peter’s Square
Thxgv Mass –
10 am - Papal General Audience –  St. Peter’s Square

A pilgrimage offered by Radio Paz (El Salvador) arrives in Rome on Wednesday, October 10, and departs on Saturday, October 20, allowing travelers to participate in the Mass for the Canonizations on Sunday the 14th; the Thanksgiving Mass on Monday the 15th; and the Pope’s General Audience on Wednesday the 17th. The approximate price of the deal is $ 2,600, which compares favorably with packages offered for other canonizations in recent years. (The Romero Trust in London has secured a limited package for $700 for three days, not including air fare from the UK.)  A package tour for the canonization of Mother Teresa in 2016 cost $2,500 not including air, and a trip for the double canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII in 2014, for which there was great demand, cost up to $ 3,500 per person, including air. It is worth noting that the aforementioned pilgrimages included a tour of Assisi, land of Saint Francis, which can be done in one day out of Rome. (The referenced tours also included more central hotels than the accommodations offered by Radio Paz, tbh.)

In Rome, pilgrims can visit the sacred Vatican sites and museums, the seven traditional pilgrimage churches, tourist sites such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon, as well as sites associated with Romero. These include the Basilica of San Bartholomew on Tiber Island, where relics of 20th century martyrs, including Romero, are preserved; the “Giardino El Salvador” Park, where a Romero statue is planned; and the Basilica of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where Romero celebrated his first mass in 1942, after being ordained a priest on the campus of the Pio Latino Pontifical College. This last site no longer exists, because the school moved to another location decades ago, and its old facilities were razed to clear the way for new buildings.

To enter the canonization ceremony, and to participate in a papal General Audience, it is necessary to obtain tickets. The General Audiences are Wednesdays at 10 in the morning. On Sundays the Pope also meets with the faithful to pray the “Angelus” at 12 noon (on Sunday the 14th, there will technically be such a prayer, but it is tucked in at the end of the Mass for the Canonizations, therefore, it is not necessary to separately obtain tickets for it). Tickets can be obtained free of charge from the Prefecture of the Papal Household. They can also be obtained from other Vatican offices, as well as from some travel agencies, always free of charge. The authority that issues them is as indicated, and they must be reserved in advance (it is advisable to contact the PPH before making the trip so as to not arrive and find that one has no means of entry).

El Salvador

Those who will remain in El Salvador can participate in a large gathering that will watch the event live through giant screens installed in the Divine Savior Square—the site where the beatification of Archbishop Romero took place in 2015. When the ceremony takes place in Rome, it will be 2 in the morning El Salvador and, therefore, attending the event will test both the devotion of the faithful and the security capacities of the Salvadoran authorities. In fact, the event can be an opportunity to reclaim a civic space the same way that the mayor of San Salvador created public confidence earlier this year by lighting up and re-opening Plaza Barrios in front of the Cathedral. It is easy to imagine a candlelight vigil that presents the image of the light of faith overcoming darkness, etc. Finally, Salvadorans will have their Thanksgiving Mass when the bishops return from Rome, which may be the Sunday after the canonization, ie, October 21st.

The 21st of the month is significant for Romero and his followers. Romero was a devotee of Mary the Queen of Peace, the patron saint of El Salvador and of his home town of San Miguel. The feast of the Virgin is on November 21, but Romero celebrated it monthly. Therefore, when Romero was created bishop in June 1970, he chose the 21st day for the ceremony. October 21 is World Mission Sunday and celebrating Romero’s canonization on that day would highlight the evangelizing function of his presentation as a saint. Presenting him in El Salvador as a saint on that day underscores the great significance of his holiness for the sanctification of his people.

Post Script

This conversation continues! Online and on social media, let’s use the hashtags #VamosTodos and #AllRoadsLeadToRomero to continue talking about these topics.
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