SAN SALVADOR – A large procession marked the culmination of the patron saint’s festivities on Saturday in San Salvador, in which the faithful commemorated the legacy of the Catholic martyrs in the civil war in their country (1980-1992) who helped them overcome that period of violence and impunity.
Their legacy “should be a source of great hope for all, in the midst of the dark night we are living in because of injustice, social exclusion, impunity and violence” and to “fight together for peace,” said the archbishop of San Salvador, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, before the main act.
Earlier, the parishioners had begun to take to the streets of the city center where the image of the “El Divino Salvador del Mundo,” created in 1777, had to be moved from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
In the latter, Escobar Alas, his assistant and first Salvadoran cardinal, Gregorio Rosa Chavez, priests and seminarians held prayers known as Vespers.
After the prayers, the image of the “Colocho,” as it is commonly known, dressed in a yellow dress, began the journey of more than a kilometer towards the cathedral, which lasted for about three hours, amid songs, incense smoke and stick rockets.
The devotees remembered, with cheers and banners, two of their most beloved priests – Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero and curate Rutilio Grande – and victims of death squads for their preaching against state repression and violence.
Blessed Romero, whose canonization process is in its last stages, was assassinated in 1980 by a sniper while celebrating Mass in a hospital for cancer patients, while Grande, whose beatification process is ongoing, was ambushed and machine-gunned along with another man and a boy in 1977.
“Walking with our martyrs in pursuit of Christ,” was the motto repeated by those, who walked in procession and the thousands who waited in the frontispiece of the main Catholic church in the country, at the behest of the priests cheering the crowds.
The main event of the day took place in front of the cathedral: the image was placed on a column of about 12 meters (39.3 feet) in height, which was crowned with a blue globe that rose with white robes, representing the biblical passage of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor.
The festivities in honor of the “El Divino Salvador del Mundo,” patron saint of San Salvador, are the most important in the country, where government activity is paralyzed between Aug. 1-6, while the private sector is closed on dates Aug. 3 and Aug. 5-6.
El Salvador Catholic hierarchs hope that some 500 priests, killed before and during the Civil War, are declared martyrs, because “they gave their lives for their faith,” according to Escobar Alas in March 2015.