Today I witnessed the official beatification of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, martyred at the altar on March 24, 1980.
Enormous crowds (more than 250,000), amazing energy, and a renewal of commitment for the poor.
I took part in the vigil which overflowed with youthful energy.
The Mass for the beatification in the morning was a little more solemn – but still filled with a joyful grace that at times brought me to tears.
The statement of beatification declared that this act was in response to the sensus fidelium, the sense of the faithful, and in fulfillment of the hopes of many believers. But the description of Romero was forthright and surprising:
bishop and martyr, pastor according to the heart of Christ, evangelizer and father of the poor, heroic witness of the Reign of God, a Reign of justice, fraternity, and peace.
Tomorrow is the feast of Pentecost. In the Pentecost Sequence the Holy Spirit is invoked as the Father of the Poor.
Some of us wondered why the Vigil of Pentecost was chosen as the date for Romero’s beatification. Could it be that Pope Francis sees Romero as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit?
Cardinal Ángelo Amato, the pope’s delegate, echoing a thought that the martyred Jesuit, Ignacio Ellacuría, once made, stated that
With Romero, Jesus walked with his people.
Romero reflected the Trinity in his life of love, solidarity, and advocacy for the poor, showing forth the Spirit of Jesus.
But I believed that we witnessed a sign of God's confirmation of Romero's holiness.
After the reading of the decree, a relic of Romero was brought forth – the shirt he wore when he was martyred.
Then the official image was unveiled.
But almost at the very moment we saw the image, several of us looked up into the sky and saw the sun surrounded by a rainbow ring.
The ring remained for about 45 minutes – until the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer.
Was this a sign? God shining a halo on his beloved martyr, Oscar.