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Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980) of El Salvador has been canonized today, October 14, along with Pope Paul VI. Romero entered the seminary at thirteen and went to Rome to study. After ordination, he returned to El Salvador and was soon busy as a pastor, seminary rector, and editor of the archdiocesan paper. Ordained as an auxiliary bishop in 1970, he was seen as a conservative and distrusted by priests who were concerned about El Salvador’s poor.

In 1977, however, soon after becoming El Salvador’s archbishop, Romero’s close friend, Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., was assassinated because of his ministry to poor peasants. Romero’s heart changed. He began to recognize a Gospel-rooted call to defend the poor. Through radio broadcasts, Romero, an excellent preacher, began denouncing the military government for persecuting and murdering Salvadorans.

On March 24, 1980, while saying Mass, he was shot and killed at the altar. Romero once said, “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.” El Salvador saw his holiness through their tears.

An El Salvadorian ambassador said, “His teachings and legacy provide us, as a nation, a strong moral compass.” A friend said: “He is not ours but he is St. Romero of the Americas. And now he is going to be St. Romero of the world.”

In an article by John Dear in a National Catholic Reporter blog, he says:

“Romero for me is one of history's greatest Christian leaders, perhaps the most outspoken, Gospel-based leader we ever had. More than a saint and a martyr, he is a prophet in the same league as Jeremiah and Isaiah. Just knowing that he existed, that we live in the age of Romero, that any of us can follow Jesus like that, gives me strength.” Dear recalls a poster that used to hang over Daniel Berrigan’s writing desk. It was a large picture of Romero with a bold caption: “We want more bishops like Romero.”