Óscar Arnulfo Romero

Monseñor Romero (colour)

Canonized: October 14, 2018
Beatified: May 23, 2015
Venerated: February 3, 2015

Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born in the small town of El Salvador known as Ciudad Barrios in 1917. His father trained him to be a carpenter, but from a very early age Óscar knew he wanted to be a priest. He left home at the age of 14, traveling by horse to the large city where he could study.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of San Salvador in 1942 and quickly became a popular, well-known parish priest and editor of his diocesan newspaper. In 1967, he went to work for the bishops of El Salvador and soon became Bishop of Santiago de Maria.

One day in 1975, soldiers raided a village in his diocese and killed many innocent people, claiming they were looking for hidden 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 the things they did. He even wrote to the country’s president.

When he became Archbishop of San Salvador, the nation’s capital, the government began to turn on the Church, arresting priests and sending them to other countries, and killing people who protested against the leadership. The government killed a priest friend of the archbishop as a warning that he should keep quiet. Archbishop Romero excommunicated the murderers, announcing they could not receive Sacraments in the Church. The government closed Catholic schools, and more priests were tortured and killed, as were teachers of religion. Even possessing a Bible or a hymnbook became illegal.

Protest for change must always take place within Gospel teaching, Archbishop Romero told the people of his country, asking them not to be violent. Soon, despite support from many other countries in the world, the archbishop became the target of the Salvadoran government’s anger.

On March 24, 1980, he was gunned down by an unknown assassin while celebrating Mass in a small hospital chapel. The day before, he had asked Salvadoran soldiers to obey God and not the government.

More than 250,000 Salvadorans attended his funeral, during which a bomb exploded and more people were killed. Many Salvadorans in the following years “disappeared,” never to be seen or heard from again—most likely killed.

In 2010, the government of El Salvador formally apologized for the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero.

In 1997, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon Óscar Romero the title of “Servant of God,” when his cause for canonization was opened. Archbishop Romero was a fearless defender of the poor and suffering in his nation, and he ultimately gave his life for them.

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 Church.

Continuing the Connection . . .

Primary Grades: The day before he died, Archbishop Romero asked the soldiers to obey God and not the government.

Using the letters of the word obey, work with the children to name four or more ways they can obey God. (For example, “o” could be “Open your ears to hear God’s Word.”)


Intermediate Grades: Archbishop Romero asked the people of his country not to be violent in response to those who were persecuting them.

Using the letters of the word peace, invite the young people to brainstorm five or more ways they can respond to hatred and violence with peace. (For example, “p” could be “Pray for those who hurt you.”)


Junior High: Throughout his ministry, Archbishop Romero spoke up for the poor and for the victims of violence and injustice.

With the young people, brainstorm three or more groups of people in the world today who need someone to speak up for them. Choose one group of people for whom you, as a class, can speak up. Decide on a way to do so. (For example, write to your congressional representatives, pray a special prayer of petition together, raise awareness through social media, and so forth.) On October 14, 2018, he was canonized, or named a saint of the Church.

Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 4, chapter 14

Life in Christ Jesus, Chapter 4

Connecting to Blest Are We: Faith in Action
The Story of the Church, chapter 19


Connecting to Blest Are We: Faith & Word
The Story of the Church, Chapter 19