Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande of El Salvador is to be beatified on Saturday 22nd January in San Salvador along with two lay companions and Franciscan Father Cosme Spessotto. All were victims of murder at the hands of death squads during years of terror in El Salvador and were martyrs for faith and justice.
Rutilio Grande and his two companions died on 12th March 1977. They were shot down by gunmen acting for the then government.
In a video message, Fr. Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Jesuits, said:
“Fr. Rutilio Grande was a Jesuit of unsuspected human and religious dimensions. In his weakness he found his greatness. (…) He knew how to be a counselor, an understanding and kind companion, and at the same time firm and serious about the Christian life and the responsible exercise of the priestly ministry. The peasant population, of which he himself was a part and which he served with dedication in his pastoral service, found in him a close, self-sacrificing and loving religious, ordained priest to share life with the community of the followers of Jesus who witness to the Good News.”
The beatification ceremony will be performed by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez. Father Pascual Cebollada, Postulator of the Cause, will represent Father General at the ceremony. He says about his experience:
“It was a consolation to read about the life of Rutilio, to see how this Jesuit was so committed to the powerless and the defenceless. I also appreciated his humanity and I could identify with him in so many aspects of his life. His commitment to prayer and to being close to Jesus poor and humble – something all Jesuits are called to – has now made him an example that we can all learn from.”
Rutilio Grande was born on 5th March 1928, he entered the Jesuits in 1945 and was ordained in the year 1959. He was the first priest killed in the civil war in El Salvador. His murder had an enormous impact on Óscar Romero, the then Archbishop of San Salvador who became increasingly outspoken about the war and who himself was eventually murdered.
A chronology of Rutilio Grande’s life, Father Sosa’s letter to the Society of Jesus on the occasion of his beatification, photos and other documents are available in the press section of jesuit.media. Also available are a video message from Father General and a video on Rutilio Grande from the series on “Jesuit Saints”.
A recent article in America magazine gives some lessons that can be learned from the life of Fr. Grande.
Georgetown university is running an online event on Jan 21st about the beatification (10 a.m. El Salvador time, 11 a.m. U.S. Eastern time, 5 p.m. Rome time).
The beatification celebration will be streamed live on YouTube on January 22nd at 5 p.m. El Salvador time.
Archdiocesan Television of San Salvador has prepared a series of four videos on the life of Rutilio Grande (in Spanish):
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