Forty years after Óscar Romero’s martyrdom, El Salvador sees a harvest of martyrs

Rhina Guidos, 27 March 2020
St Oscar Romero in 1978 on a visit to Rome. Image: Wikimedia Commons.


As the Catholic Church in El Salvador declared a jubilee year for its martyrs, whispers were already circulating, hinting at the possibility that the country would receive news from Rome of several new beatified Salvadorans this year.

The whispers began with a poster circulated in early January on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, featuring St. Óscar Romero, Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande and Franciscan Father Cosme Spessotto. Was this a hint, some speculated, about an upcoming beatification of the Franciscan and the Jesuit this year?

On Feb. 22, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had recognized the martyrdom of Father Grande and two companions, clearing the way for their beatification. There’s also the hope that this year, too, will bring about the declaration of martyrdom for Father Spessotto, an Italian who lived for decades in El Salvador and was killed in 1980 after denouncing government injustices against the country’s poor and vulnerable.

Like St. Romero and Father Grande, killed for the same type of reasons — siding with the poor and demanding their rights be respected — the expectation is that Father Spessotto, too, will be declared a martyr. If that comes to fruition, El Salvador could celebrate four beatifications this year.

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With thanks to America Magazine and Angelo Jesus Canta, where this article originally appeared.



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