Saint Oscar Romero
Oscar Romero was born in San Salvador in 1917. In his village the public school only went through the third grade, so Oscar’s father trained him in carpentry. He excelled as an apprentice, but he told his parents that his true calling was to become a priest.
His studies took him to Rome, where he was ordained at the age of twenty-five. Returning to El Salvador, he served as a parish priest for the next twenty years. Exhausted, and diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and scrupulosity, he was moved into duties overseeing the archdiocesan newspaper, which under his editorship focused on defending the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church.
In 1974 at the age of 57, he was appointed bishop of Santiago de Maria, a poor and rural diocese. In 1977 he was made Archbishop of San Salvador, a move which was initially welcomed by the government because of his reputation for conservatism.
At that time, there was increasing political violence in El Salvador, as right wing paramilitary groups, supported by the government violently repressed people who supported the left wing opposition party. Many Catholic clergy spoke up in support of those being repressed, many of whom were poor peasants. Although Archbishop Romero was not partisan, he did speak out about the human rights violations against the people and against priests and religious. He began to broadcast his weekly homilies on the radio, and those homilies became a major source of news for Catholics throughout the country.
On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Romero delivered a sermon in which he called upon Salvadoran soldiers to obey God’s law first, even if it meant refusing to follow orders to carry out repressions. That evening, while he was celebrating mass in a small chapel, a gunman shot and killed the archbishop.
Archbishop Romero’s funeral drew a quarter million mourners. He was beatified in 2015 and canonized on October 18, 2018 by Pope Francis. His feast day is March 24th.
This icon was written for the first church that would be named after St. Romero. Soil from the site of the massacre was mixed into the paint used to write the icon. St. Romero is shown wearing red vestments, the color of martyrdom. On his vestment is an image of Christ as priest, and also one of a pelican wounding herself in order to feed her young. According to medieval legend, in times of famine the mother pelican stabs herself with her sharp beak in order to nourish her children with her blood. This legend was used as a representation for Christ’s sacrifice to save our souls. Above the saints two shoulders are images of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady of Peace, two of his particular devotions. On each side he is flanked by olive branches, a symbol of eternal life and of peace. AMDG
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