The Society of Jesus joins the profound joy of the People of God who are on pilgrimage in El Salvador for the beatification of four martyrs, witnesses of the faith on which the hope of the Salvadoran people is based.
Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., and the laymen Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus, were ambushed in Tres Cruces, near the Parish of El Paisnal, on 12th March 1977, while they were on their way to attend to the pastoral care of one of the ecclesial communities in the area. Fray Cosme Spessotto Zamuner, O.F.M., was also shot in front of the altar of the Parish Church of San Juan Nonualco, on 14th June 1980.
These four people were united by their faith in Jesus Christ, which led them to “love and serve in all things” the people to whom they belonged. Following the Lord, they emptied themselves to share the fate of the people, even to the point of giving their lives.
Manuel Solórzano, born in Suchitoto in 1905, married and father of ten children, had moved to Aguilares for work reasons. His honesty and commitment to the pastoral work of the community made him a much loved person. Nelson Rutilio Lemus, much younger, was born in 1960 in El Paisnal, like Fr. Rutilio with whom he was related, but above all they shared the enthusiasm of service to the ecclesial communities that formed the parish of El Señor de las Misericordias, of Aguilares in El Salvador.
Fray Cosme had arrived from Italy to El Salvador in 1953, 30 years old and five years after his ordination to the priesthood. Following his missionary vocation, he devoted himself to the service of the people without distinction, even during the years of armed conflict. His martyrdom was the result of a life consistent with his faith and with the ministry entrusted to him at the service of all the people.
Fr. Rutilio Grande, born on January 5, 1928, was a Jesuit of unsuspected human and religious dimensions. In his weakness he found his greatness. He spent most of his life in the silence and humility of those who, step by step, become companions of Jesus. Those who knew him always found in him a good man, close and helpful. For the seminarians he was an authentic formator and for the Salvadoran clergy a delicate spiritual companion. Rutilio 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.
In recognizing the martyrdom of Fr. Rutilio, Manuel, Nelson and Fray Cosme, the Catholic Church confirms that their lives were taken because of the faith that gave meaning to their lives and to which they became witnesses by their unjustly shed blood.
As the Society of Jesus, we give thanks to God for the lives of these generous people. Through them, we unite ourselves with the faith of the people of El Salvador and with their efforts to bring about the necessary transformations that will make possible a just society with a dignified place for all people.
May Our Lady Queen of Peace, patroness of the Salvadoran people, be the light that illuminates the way, following the example of the new Blessed Martyrs of El Salvador.
Prayer for the intercession of Rutilio Grande
O God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, you instilled in your servant Father Rutilio Grande, SJ, love for your Word, for the Eucharist and for the evangelizing mission of the Church among the poor.
You granted him the gift of uniting himself to the passion of your son Jesus Christ, through a martyr’s death, together with his companions Manuel and Nelson, when they were on their way to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
We thank you for the example and life of Rutilio alongside his companions Manuel and Nelson. Grant through their intercession the favor I now ask of you… (here you can make a petition). Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary and Gloria…
The beatification celebration will be streamed live on YouTube on January 22nd at 5 p.m. El Salvador time.