The Beatification Of Father Rutilio Grande
~ A Reflection by Sr. Maria Elena Plata, MSC *
On January 22, 2022, in the City Of San Salvador, El Salvador, the Eucharist was celebrated in which the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande García (48 years old) was officially declared blessed. He was murdered along with Manuel Solórzano, 72 years old, and Nelson Rutilio Lemus, 16 years old, both members of the parish community, on March 12, 1977, in the town of Aguilares, El Salvador. On that day, Friar Cosme Spessoto (Franciscan), considered a martyr for peace, was also beatified.
I had the opportunity to participate in that celebration as part of the delegation of the Conference of Religious of Guatemala. The Eucharist was celebrated by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, delegate of Pope Francis.
The celebration was very emotional, the “Savior of the World” square, in San Salvador, was full of representatives from all the parishes of the country, all the diocesan clergy was present, which reminded us of the “unique mass” that Monsignor Romero celebrated the day that Father Rutilio and his companions were assassinated. In the words of Cardinal Rosa Chavez: “in our assembly there are humble peasants who rejoice to see that the Church recognizes the sanctity of those who have given their lives in its service”. He also pointed out, that the two lay people represent “the multitude that no one will be able to count, that is, the innumerable anonymous martyrs of the Salvadoran people.”
The recognition of the martyrdom of Father Rutilio, of Fray Cosme, of Manuel and Nelson, has a profound value, since that also entails the recognition of the violence that the Salvadoran people suffered for years. There was a mixture of joy, happiness, pain, forgiveness and hope, as well as a call for attention and warning. Cardinal Rosa Chavez pointed out that we are very passive and asleep, that we are not fully aware of the treasure we possess by belonging to a martyrial church, and that the admiration we feel for them should lead us to imitate their example, and to live in coherence with the gospel, since their death, like the death of Jesus, was caused by fidelity to the gospel, and their pastoral actions were motivated by their conviction to establish the kingdom of life and justice that Jesus preached. *Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator