I'll never forget the parade that day. Everyone in our group crayoned Romero Vive ("Romero lives") on our white T-shirts. We piled into the repainted but obviously recycled circa 1960s American school bus (the standard public transport in Central America today), drove as close as we could, and then spilled into the streets. Joining masses of Salvadorans, we funneled through their capital city and to the cathedral, which held the body of their national hero. Entrepreneurs sold bananas from woven bins and drinks in clear plastic bags pierced by paper straws. Parents packed along children born long after Romero's day. Prune-faced old ladies who couldn't handle the long march filled the backs of beat-up pickup trucks adding so rolling “granny floats” to the parade of people. Banks, Western Union offices, strip malls, and fast-food joints seemed to stand still and observe as the marchers shut down the city. Soldiers looking on appeared humbled by the crowd.
Just being there put me in solidarity with a powerful and surging people's spirit. Being a head taller than anyone else and clearly a norteamericano, I had lots of friends. Judging from the smiles I encountered, my presence was appreciated.
The symbolic resurrection of Romero in his people is depicted in colorful murals showing the people of El Salvador rising like tall stocks of corn with big smiles and bullet wounds in their hands. In Latin America, crosses are decorated with peasants and symbols of their lives — healthy stocks of corn. While this is a land of martyrs, it's also a fertile land of resurrection.
Oscar Romero is not yet a saint. While the Vatican sends mixed signals, the local Catholic hierarchy is gradually trying to sanitizing his image to be less offensive to the rich. But priests, nuns, and people throughout Central America are not waiting. For them, Oscar Romero is already "San Romero."
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You are reading "Romero, Martyrdom, and Resurrection", an entry posted on 04 November 2009 by Rick Steves.