August is a month of festivities in El Salvador. Not only did the country celebrate its patron saints during the fiestas agostinas for 6 days, Salvadorans also commemorated the 100th birthday of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, the Archbishop known for his unrelenting defense of human rights.
Every Sunday in the late 1970s, Salvadorans would turn on the radio to listen to Romero’s homilies and to his words of encouragement for the poor. People also turned to him for his denunciations of the military’s violent repression. As the conflict between left-wing rebels and the regime escalated, Óscar Romero became a threat and a target for the established power. In 1980, he was shot during mass. The murder of the Archbishop unleashed a tragic civil war which left nearly a million dead and disappeared. The Vatican recognized him as a martyr in 2015 and rumors say he will be canonized next year.
Canonized or not, Romero is venerated in El Salvador. In a country in dire need of an inspirational figure, Romero is already a saint. The small Central American nation is still torn by violence and hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans are fleeing gang warfare. The exodus carries on as we speak. Celebrating the martyr’s birthday is therefore a symbol of hope for many Salvadorans. (…)
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