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San Salvador: Cathedral of the Holy Savior & Tomb of Saint Oscar Romero


About Saint Oscar Romero:

Saint Oscar RomeroOscar Romero served as archbishop of San Salvador from 1977 to 1980. To understand the backghround of the situation in El Salvador, you need to be aware of conditions here in the 20th century.  Up until the 1970’s,  a small number of wealthy families in the country owned the majority of the land and most of the population, the campesinos, lived in poverty.

Beginning in the late 1970’s, Salvadoran peasants, many of whom were inspired by leftist ideologies, began to fight for the right to ownership of the land.  In response to this, the  right-wing government created death squads that murdered & disfigured them to scare off others from rebelling. The regime accused the Salvadoran clergy of being infiltrated by communists and killed priests as well.  The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, in its efforts to quell the possible rise of communism in the country, backed the government, giving them arms and support.

Amidst this growing bloodshed, Archbishop Romero called for peace and for the cessation of violence and for an end to economic injustice. He had a weekly radio broadcast of his sermons on the Church’s station, YSAX, that was carried throughout the country.    In these sermons, he listed disappearances, tortures, murders, and had a tremendous following throughout the country.  As is true in most dictatorships, the government did not want the truth coming to light.

The night before he was murdered while celebrating Mass, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador said on the radio: “I would like to appeal in a special way to the men of the army, and in particular to the troops of the National Guard, the police, and the garrisons. Brothers, you belong to our own people. You kill your own brother peasants; and in the face of an order to kill that is given by a man, the law of God that says ‘Do not kill!’ should prevail.”

No soldier is obliged to obey an order counter to the law of God. No one has to comply with an immoral law. It is the time now that you recover your conscience and obey its dictates rather than the command of sin. . . . Therefore, in the name of God, and in the name of this long-suffering people, whose laments rise to heaven every day more tumultuous, I beseech you, I beg you, I command you! In the name of God: ‘Cease the repression!’”

On March 24, 1980, he was shot by a government death squad while celebrating Mass at a small chapel located in a hospital called “La Divina Providencia”.  Although no one was ever convicted of the crime, it is widely attributed to the regime.  The likely suspects possibly fled the country and probably still alive.

His Funeral Mass on March 30, 1980 in San Salvador was attended by more than 250,000 mourners from all over the world. Adding to the violence, during his funeral, a group of right-wing supporters threw smoke bombs in to the crowd and opened fire on the mourners causing a stampede that killed many.  Again, no one was ever arrested.

Contrary to what some might have believed, Archbishop Romero was neither a Communist or a proponent of Liberation Theology (rampant in some parts of the country at that time).  These were just myths….he was simply one who spoke the truth.  For more about the myths about him that have proven to be incorrect, read this.

Oscar Romero was declared a Saint by Pope Francis on October 14, 2018.  We celebrate his Feast Day on March 24 (anniversary of his martyrdom).

About the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in San Salvador:

Pope John Paul II visiting his tomb (photo courtesy The Catholic Company)
Pope John Paul II visiting his tomb (photo courtesy The Catholic Company)

The Cathedral itself is of great interest, being the seat of the Archbishop of San Salvador; however, the tomb of Saint Oscar Romero is the main attraction of the Cathedral, and is visited by thousands.

Pope John Paul II visited here twice:  in 1983 and 1996, where he knelt and prayed before the tomb ( newer tomb has been built to replace the simple one shown here).

Address:  Calle Ruben Dario, San Salvador, El Salvador

Tel:  +503-2271-2573

There is no official website for the Cathedral.

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