We started out at the Chapel of Divine Providence Hospital (a hospital for
terminal cancer patients) where Oscar Romero was murdered. It was very close to the home where he lived. We learned that he was killed as he ended his homily. The interior of the chapel has plaques and other paintings, etc. depicting Bishop Romero. It was sobering to be there, to see where he was murdered.
After being at the Church, we headed a few yards away to the humble home
in which Bishop Oscar Romero lived. It was a very simple home, with a front room, a tiny, tiny kitchen, a bed and bath, and a small guest room. In the guest room were the clothing he was wearing when he was murdered -- blood stains and all. It took my breath away to be there -- to witness the humbleness in which he lived, a reflection of his life. A man who lived simply with a very powerful message. The fact that he was killed immediately after his sermon with one bullet directed to his heart brought me to tears. The power of words -- to inspire or incense. In the case of Oscar Romero, proclaiming the gospel of God in Christ, calling for justice -- incensed.
We then headed over to UCA -- the University museum, to see the exhibits of those who were murdered. The seven Jesuits who were murdered -- and the two women staff -- executed. The remaining blood stained clothing of the Jesuits were on display as if they were standing there. I was stunned -- and held back tears. We saw the pictures of the Maryknoll sisters who died -- and we still don't know where they are buried. Seeing the personal effects of the Jesuits and others on display, along with the personal effects of Oscar Romero at his home -- I was haunted by the image of the need to remember -- to not let what has happened, and the ordinary items of life that we hold on to remind us that we need to remember. To remember that lives that are taken are linked to all things personal, to other people, to love, to life.
We then went into the chapel at UCA. I had to stop and I gasped. The stations of the cross, descriptive, compelling, brutal, amazing. I held back tears as I took pictures of these stations. I also had Shelley Denney walk me over to a painting depicting what happened in the assassinations of the Jesuits. It was powerful and alarming -- art depicting life, life that ended in death.
We then headed over to the Roman Catholic Cathedral in San Salvador which contains the crypt where Oscar Romero was buried. We spent time walking around the nave floor of the Cathedral -- beautiful. It is in the Center of San Salvador -- and is in a depressed area. What once housed the rich and famous now is an area of poverty and is a bit dangerous to walk around in on your own. We tried to go into the crypt, but it was closed until 2:00. So, we ended up trying to go to Iglesia del Rosario. Well, it was closed, but we powered then over to the Palacio Nacional -- which was beautiful, and in the process of being renovated. We toured around, and then headed back to the Cathedral.
We arrived at the crypt, and saw the beautiful tomb of Oscar Romero. I kept
thinking to myself that he was a humble man -- I saw his house, I saw his car. They were humble, and this was so, in many ways, grand. Maybe that's the point -- humble in life, saint in the next. It was so hot today, I was perspiring profusely, but I kept thinking about Bishop Romero in his robes, which are never light over our clothing. He was kind, but he spoke God's truth. What a powerful image for people, even today.
I so appreciated the fact that Oscar Romero was not afraid to follow Christ. I applaud the Salvadoran people for housing graphic displays of what happened to people -- bloodily so -- who followed Christ. May we never forget that there is a cost for this work when we speak prophetically.
We got back in time to the hotel to grab a VERY quick bite to eat, shower and change for the ordinations. We headed to the Cathedral at 5, greeted new and old friends, and proceeded to get ready for the ordinations. I have a LOT of pictures of the ordination, as I was seated with a great "view". I was honored to be able to preach for our two new deacons, and to open the convention. More, to be able to celebrate the Eucharist after all we had seen this day -- so much death, so much oppression, so much repression -- we found out as we arrived at the Cathedral earlier today that our driver Arcelio's father was murdered in the cathedral in a massacre -- when Arcelio was 2 years old. It made me weep. I held those prayers with me at this ordination -- and give thanks for Alfredo and Antonio.
More pictures and blog entries from El Salvador to come.
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Location:Lamatepec,San Salvador,El Salvador