Roman Catholic Saint. He is remembered internationally as the martyred Roman Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador, serving from 1977 to 1980, and being the first archbishop killed while at the altar since St. Thomas Becket in 1170. On a day in 1975 while he was Bishop of the Diocese of Santiago de Maria, soldiers raided a village killing many innocent people; the soldiers claimed that they were looking for illegal weapons. Bishop Romero was horrified. At the funerals of these villagers, he spoke about people’s human rights and how the military was wrong in their cruel behavior. In his crusade for justice, he even wrote to the country’s president, Arturo Armando Molina. On February 23, 1977 he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, while the conditions in his country went from bad to worst. He had developed a wide-spread radio following, who listened to his mass. After denouncing human rights abuses by the Revolutionary Government Junta, he was assassinated in 1980 by an unknown agent of the military dictatorship in political power. The assassination occurred while he was performing a mass; he spoke against poverty, social injustice, murder, torture and then he was killed. With El Salvador having civil unrest, a bomb exploded during his funeral killing several of the 250,000 mourners in attendance. In the years following the funeral, the killings continued with many of these citizens disappearing never to be seen again. For his courageous stance, he became an international hero, whose life-sized statue holding a child now graces the facade of Westminster Abbey in London, England. In 1989, the film “Romero” has Raul Julia portray the role of the archbishop. Born into a very large, poor Roman Catholic family, he attended first through third grade in the local school and then was taught at home until he was thirteen years old. Although he was trained to be a carpenter from a very early age, Romero knew he wanted to be a priest. The next year, he left home traveling by horse to the minor seminary in San Miguel and later at the national seminary in San Salvador where he would study for the priesthood. He completed his studies at the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy receiving a Licentiate in Theology as cum laude in 1941. He was too young to be ordained that year.He was ordained a priest in Rome on April 2, 1942. He remained in Rome where he obtained a doctoral degree in theology specializing in ascetical theology and Christian perfection. He returned to El Salvador eventually becoming the priest a San Miguel for over twenty years. He was professionally diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and scrupulosity. His career continued as he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Salvador in 1970 followed by Bishop of the Diocese of Santiago de Maria in 1974 before becoming the Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. In 1997 Pope John Paul II bestowed on him the title of “Servant of God” when his cause for canonization was opened: Archbishop Romeo was a fearless defender of the poor and suffering in his nation, and he ultimately gave his life for them. In 2010 the El Salvadoran government formally apologized for the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero. In February of 2015, Pope Francis declared Archbishop Romero a martyr. The Church formally beatified him on May 23, 2015. On October 14, 2018, he was canonized, or named a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bio by: Linda Davis