Monday, October 19, 2015

Romero relics


Photo courtesy Msgr. Rafael Urrutia.
Faithful can now obtain third class relics of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero from the San Salvador Archdiocese canonization office.  Prayer cards that contain a piece of cloth that has been touched to Romero’s vestments are available through the canonization office. 
As explained by Catholic News Service: “A first-class relic is the physical bodily remains of a saint or blessed like bones, blood and hair; a second-class relic is a personal possession, such as clothing, devotional objects, handwritten letters or even furniture; and a third-class relic is an object that has touched a first-class relic. These — usually small snips of cloth that have touched a blessed or saint’s tomb — often end up in public distribution fixed onto prayer cards.”
Blessed Romero was killed by a gunshot through the heart while he was celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980.  The vestments he was wearing were soaked in blood.  His gray clerical shirt was featured prominently during the Romero beatification in May in San Salvador.  The shirt was carried in ceremonial procession up to the altar where it was incensed and venerated.  After the beatification, the shirt was sent to various churches in El Salvador for veneration.  (The shirt is seen in the right hand side of the masthead of this blog.)
Photo courtesy San Francisco Te Ve.
Out of concern for the integrity of the garment, the shirt was recently replaced with a much smaller piece of cloth containing Romero’s blood which was placed in a new reliquary to be sent around in El Salvador.  This cloth is not from Romero’s vestments, but from the white linen cloth (called the corporal) upon which the Eucharistic chalice had been placed during Romero’s final Mass.  The new reliquary also contains a miter (bishop’s head garb) worn by Romero.  The Salvadoran Church intends to send these relics to every parish in El Salvador, and to the cathedrals in the other Central American capitals.  The pilgrimage will last three years.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of Romero’s blood produced on that fateful Monday evening in March 1980.  The killer’s bullet impacted Romero’s heart, triggering profuse bleeding through the entry wound in Romero’s chest, as well as through his mouth and nostrils, after his lungs filled with blood.  Some of the most haunting photographs of the scene show the nuns who worked in the hospital in whose chapel Romero was killed cleaning up his blood after his body was taken away.  They appeared to be conscious of its sacredness, picking it up in white sheets, rather than just mopping it up with ordinary cleaning equipment.  Fragments of those sheets were given away as treasured relics to Romero devotees for years.
Those who wish to obtain a third class relic of Blessed Romero should contact the canonization office. The office is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to Noon local time.  The phone number is: Country Code +503, 2234-5347.  Email:

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