This Wednesday, August 15, Salvadorans have a double feast to celebrate: The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the 101st anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero.

The Salvadoran community will mark Bishop Romero’s birthday by distributing one rosemary plant per household. The trees will be distributed starting August 15.

“Romero in my House” is a new campaign of the Archdiocese of San Salvador to honor the life and martyrdom of Romero, who was beatified in 2015 and will become the first canonized saint from El Salvador on October 14 of this year. 

The campaign was announced on August 4th in Romero’s hometown of Ciudad Barrios, during the closing ceremony and Mass of a three-day pilgrimage “Walking with San Romero to Build Peace”. The Mass was celebrated in the Blessed Monsignor Oscar Romero parish, located about four hours east of San Salvador. 

Presiding was San Salvador Auxiliary Bishop Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, who explained that “one rosemary tree in my house and the Saint Romero in my heart means that every family will accept to be modeled by the love and teachings of Saint Romero to follow his example.”

Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez walks with pilgrims from around El Salvador and other countries. SILVIA GALDAMEZ

“Blessed Romero once said that nothing is more important than life, because life is sacred,” said the cardinal, who was a close associate of the bishop before he was killed while celebrating Mass in 1980. 

The initiative may seem like just a clever reference to the bishop’s last name, which is the Spanish word for rosemary. But according to Cardinal Rosa Chavez, the idea for the campaign came from a line that Romero wrote in his diary while studying in Rome. 

“‘Back then,’ he wrote, ‘I came to Rome like a romero,’” which means, according to Chavez, “‘I came here as a pilgrim,’ because the word ‘romero’ in Roman means pilgrim.”

More than five thousand people participated in the 100 mile walking pilgrimage, which started in San Salvador and finished in Ciudad Barrios, located in San Miguel department of El Salvador. 

During his homily, Cardinal Chavez greeted all those present who came from different towns of El Salvador and many more from other countries. “We are all pilgrims from everywhere who are looking for the cradle of the prophet, Monsignor Romero,” said Cardinal Chavez.

During the pilgrimage, people referred to Romero as “the saint of America,” a motto that was proclaimed from the altar of the Blessed Monsignor Oscar Romero parish.

The Catholic Church will formally recognize the sainthood of Blessed Romero during the Synod of Bishops on the youth in Rome, that will take place from October 3 to 28, 2018. The second required posthumous miracle approved by the Vatican involved the inexplicable recovery of a pregnant woman suffering from HELLP syndrome after family and members of her Neocatechumenal community invoked Romero’s intercession for her healing.


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