SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Four Latin American presidents from neighboring Panama, Ecuador, Honduras and Guatemala and six cardinals are expected to attend tomorrow’s beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.
The six cardinals are: Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, of Honduras, Leopoldo Brenes of Nicaragua, Jaime Ortega of Cuba, Jose Luis Lacunza of Panama, Roger Mahony of the U.S. and Italian Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as well as Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of Archbishop Romero’s cause.
“There have been people inspired by Romero for 35 years. How do you think they feel right now?” said Father Estefan Turcios, parish priest of El Salvador’s St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Soyapango.
Members of Archbishop Romero’s family are expected to attend, including Gaspar Romero, his brother who is expected to place flowers around the relic, the shirt that soaked up the archbishop’s blood as he died in the middle of Mass after being shot. A document chronicling the atrocities committed by both sides of the country’s 12-year conflict will be offered during the ceremony, in hopes of reconciliation of a terrible moment in history.
The humming of cars, pounding of hammers and fireworks (some in celebration of the beatification, but others in honor of the Virgin Mary in the month of May) have given San Salvador, the capital, reason to feel festive, even when there’s little celebrate because of spiraling gang violence in the country.
Though the ceremony is tomorrow, a Friday evening vigil has been organized with Mass scheduled to be celebrated at the site of the beatification by Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Drones are flying over the Monument to the Divine Savior where the beatification will take place, and images, as well as the voice of the man many already consider a saint are everywhere you look.
Jesuit Father Miguel Angel Vasquez Hernandez, of Arcatao, in northern El Salvador, said the archbishop would probably have felt taken aback with such a ceremony, which is expected to cost about $1 million and is expected to be attended by 200,000 to 250,000.
The best way to honor him, he said, is to work for peace and justice in El Salvador, and in other parts of the world afflicted by poverty, war, violence, oppression and economic injustice.