Monday, March 07, 2016

Blessed Romero tames Iron Maiden

#BlessedRomero #MartyrOfMercy
St. Patrick is said to have banished the snakes from Ireland.  St. Leo the Great supposedly convinced Attila the Hun to withdraw from the gates of Rome.  Now we will add another prodigy to the annals of sacred history after Blessed Oscar Romero tamed and possibly converted the hedonistic head bangers of the British heavy metal group Iron Maiden, who played in El Salvador on Sunday, March 6, 2016.

Drummer Nicko McBrain and guitarist Janick Gers visited Romero’s tomb in the Crypt of the San Salvador Metropolitan Cathedral before their concert on Sunday, and later McBrain was seen wearing a “Saint Romero of the Americas” t-shirt onstage before 9,000 fans at the Mágico González Stadium concert Sunday night.
Paulita Pike was on volunteer duty giving tours of Romero’s tomb when the band members came through.  I arrived at the Cathedral Crypt on Sunday as I have been doing for approximately twenty years to serve the pilgrims who arrive to visit Archbishop Romero,” Pike told Super Martyrio.  The day got off to a pleasant start when Pike drove into downtown San Salvador through mostly deserted streets in the historic district.  She said hello to acquaintances enjoying the shade of the mango tree near the church, to the ladies that sell Romero t-shirts outside the entrance to the Crypt, and distributed meals to the indigent in the adjacent streets.  Pike at first was nonplussed by the sight of the Caucasian foreigners walking down the steps to the Crypt—foreigners visit the site every day.  It took Pike’s friend to point out to her—“It’s them, it’s them ... it’s the rockers!
The band arrived in El Salvador on Saturday, and were immediate headline news when their specialized 747, “Ed Force One,” designed to carry the band, their crew and stage production to countries lacking facilities to allow the group the perform, landed at Msgr. Oscar Romero Airport.  Thousands of their fans entered El Salvador from nearby Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, including Eddie and Iván Aguare, who drove 250 miles from Totonicapán, Guatemala, to be there, and were among the Maiden fans visiting the San Salvador Cathedral on Sunday, taking advantage of their time in the country to pay homage to Romero.
Pike’s picture of McBrain and Gers at Romero’s Tomb quickly went viral.  She was lucky to be on duty at the time the rockers came through, and they were fortunate that Pike speaks flawless English and was able to provide highly accurate information about Romero (she is the head of an influential group promoting Romero in San Salvador called Cultura Romeriana).  “It was very exciting, especially because they were so interested and so moved, with Nicko even shedding a couple of tears.”

McBrain and Gers spent about 40 minutes at the site, asking probing questions about Romero and the context in which he was killed.  They asked why Romero had been killed, whether the unjust structures that existed before had been removed after 36 years, and whether El Salvador was more stable now after the war.  Guitarist Gers surprised Pike by asking whether she knew anything about the four nuns that had been killed.  At first, Pike thought he was talking about the U.S. religious women killed in El Salvador in December 1980.  Instead, he was talking about the four members of Mother Teresa’s order brutally killed in Yemen on Friday.

As the band’s handlers finally came to get them, Pike’s friend arrived with two t-shirts to give the musicians.  Pike asked McBrain whether he would wear it at the concert.  “You know when I will change into it?,” he asked her.  “When there are three songs left before the end of the show, I will put it on and I will say ‘THIS IS FOR MONSEÑOR ROMERO’.”  And the rest is history.

In truth, the group members are not the “Satanists” that some conservative critics have accused them of being.  McBrain converted to Christianity in 1999.  But the legend of the Salvadoran saint who tamed the raucous rockers may be too hard to suppress.

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