The Archbishop Romero El Salvador Tour
Follow the historic trail of Oscar Romero in 2014
Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez was the fourth Archbishop of El Salvador, and he was tragically murdered on 24 March 1980 during unrest that occurred just before the country's twelve year civil war.
Over thirty years later the Salvadoran government are promoting Archbishop Romero El Salvador tours, which can be done as a guided tour or by yourself, using the information provided in this article.
I would like to tell you a little about who Oscar Romero was, what events led to his death and how he has been honored since then.Join me as we take a trip to each of the ten sites that are being promoted on the Archbishop Romero tour, where you can learn about the importance of each of them and why they were chosen.
Who was Archbishop Oscar Romero?
Ãscar Arnulfo Romero y GaldÃ¡mez was born in Ciudad Barrios, which is situated in the San Miguel department of El Salvador, on August 15 1917.
One of six children, Ãscar's father encouraged him to train to be a carpenter, but despite showing much promise he felt a calling to the church and at the age of thirteen he entered the Catholic Seminary in San Miguel. From there he went to San Salvador and then on to Rome, where he completed his studies and was ordained a Catholic priest on April 4 1942.
Arriving back in El Salvador, Oscar Romero was made a parish priest in AnamorÃ³s before spending twenty years in San Miguel.
By 1970 he had been appointed auxiliary bishop to Luis ChÃ¡vez y GonzÃ¡lez, the San Salvador Archbishop, and at the end of 1975 he became Bishop of Santiago de MarÃa, a rural area of El Salvador that included the town where he was born.
Less than two years later, on February 23rd 1977, Bishop Romero was made Archbishop of El Salvador, a post that he would hold for little over three years.
His appointment to Archbishop was not popular amongst the other Salvadoran bishops, who saw him as being too conservative, but he was a popular choice with the government.
Little was he to know that before long the country he loved would be embroiled in violence and he would end up paying the ultimate sacrifice with his life.
Books by Oscar Romero - (Translated Into English)
If you would like to read some of the writings of Archbishop Romero then these books were written by him and have been translated into English.
Oscar Romero Day
A time to reflect on the life of Oscar Romero
So what made Ãscar Romero, considered by many to be a safe option as a member of El Salvador's Catholic elite, a man seen as conservative and unlikely to cause problems with the influential aristocracy, become transformed into a campaigner for justice for Salvadorans, which would ultimately cost him his life?
Three years after Romero was made Archbishop, in 1980, El Salvador was spiralling towards what would end up being a twelve year civil war between the Junta Revolucionaria de Gobierno, who had overturned the government a few months previously and a collaboration of five left wing guerilla groups known collectively as the FMLN (Farabundo MartÃ National Liberation Front).
It was February 1980, and Archbishop Romero was saddened to see his beloved country's escalating violence, and in February he wrote and published an open letter to President Jimmy Carter, begging him to stop all financial and military aid to the Salvadoran government, in an attempt to halt the attrocities.
On March 23 1980 Romero made a speech that called upon Salvadoran soldiers and police to disobey their orders and refuse to murder their fellow countrymen.
The following day, on March 24, whilst taking mass at the Divine Providence Hospital, Archbishop Romero was shot dead, in front of his congregation.
The Romero El Salvador Tour
San Salvador City and Volcan De San Vincent, El Salvador by Christian KoberAllposters.com
San Salvador is the capital city of Central America's smallest country, El Salvador, and is home to over half a million people, in a country of little over six million people in total.
This is the city where Oscar Romero lived and worked during his brief time as Archbishop of El Salvador, and here you can visit places that were important in his life:
The five other places to visit on the Romero tour are more background interest, and can be visited if you have sufficient time.
10. Paseo El Carmen
The areas where he lived and worked before becoming Archbishop are not being covered by the tour, but if you have sufficient time it would be possible to visit Ciudad Barrios, where he was born, and the city of San Miguel where he served as a parish priest for many years.
If you are visiting El Salvador there are a lot of interesting places for tourists to visit and most of them are within easy reach of the capital city.
Sites that can help you to plan your Archbishop Romero El Salvador tour:
* Waves Tours Fiestas on Facebook
The Archbishop Romero Tour Sites
The 5 Significant Romero Sites
that form the core of the Romero tour
Visit Romero's Tomb
The cathedral in the capital city would have a great importance in the life of the country's Archbishop, and it was here that Oscar Romero was laid to rest the week after his murder, on March 30 1980, which was also Palm Sunday.
More than a quarter of a million people attended the funeral, travelling from all over the world to pay their last respects to the Archbishop.
Pope John Paul II was represented at the funeral by Mexican cardinal, Corripio Ahumada, who said that "his blood will give fruit to brotherhood, love and peace."
As the funeral ceremony was being held there were explosions nearby that was quickly followed by gunfire, leaving up to fifty people dead and almost as many injured.
Chaos descended on the area surrounding the cathedral, and approximately seven thousand people rushed inside to take refuge, squashing into an area that usually holds a maximum of three thousand people.
Today you can visit his tomb which is prominently situated in the crypt, and pay your respects to this great man just as Pope John Paul II did in 1983 and 1996, and more recently US President Obama in 2011.
There has been a church in central San Salvador since the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1842 that it was elevated to cathedral status.
Unfortunately twelve years later the church was severely damaged by bad weather and then in 1873 an earthquake destroyed the remains.
The cathedral was rebuilt in 1888, using wood that gave the building more flexibility during earthquakes. Unfortunately the second cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1951.
In 1956 work began on a third cathedral, and this is the one that stands today. Third time lucky so far, it has escaped the ravages of tropical storms, earthquakes and fires!
The front of the cathedral was adorned with mosaic tiles that were specially designed by Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort. Unfortunately if you visit the cathedral today you will see a plain facade as the current Archbishop of El Salvador had the tiles removed in 2011, without consulting the people or government of El Salvador, an action that received a public outcry.
The church was not fully finished until 1999, some nineteen years after Romer'os death, but was in use during his lifetime.
The cathedral is open Monday and Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 - 12:00 and 14:30 - 17:00 and all day on Sundays
The address is Calle Ruben DariÂo, frente a Plaza Civica, contiguo a Plaza Barrios
GPS Coordinates: N13.69859, W -89.19111
There is a secure car park either side of the cathedral if you are arriving by car. Actually in the grounds of the cathedral, it costs about 50 cents for an hour and is secure. You can also leave your car here while you walk to the National Palace and El Rosario church.
Divine Providence Hospital Chapel
Visit the chapel where Romero was murdered
Romero lived at the Divine Providence Hospital during the 1970's and 80's, living alongside the resident Carmelite nuns who provide care for cancer patients.
The day after the Archbishop made his speech, imploring the Salvadoran soldiers not to kill their fellow Salvadorans, Romero led a funeral mass for the mother of a friend at the chapel in the Divine Providence hospital.
As the service drew to a close, and Romero lifted the chalice and prepared to take Holy Communion, gunfire sounded and a single bullet hit him in the heart.
It was here, in the place that he loved, amongst people he saw as his family, that he was killed
The chapel is open to the public Monday to Friday from 08:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 p.m - 16:30.
If you would like to attend a mass at the chapel, they are held at 17:00 on Mondays to Saturdays and at 09:00 and 17:00 on Sundays.
If you wish to contact the director, Sister Maria Julia Garcia, she can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The address for the hosital and chapel is: Final Calle Toluca y Avenida Rocio, Colonia Miramonte. San Salvador.
GPS Coordinates N 13.711307, W -89.223136
The Sacred Heart Basilica
See where Romero delivered his last Sunday mass
By EfegÃ© (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It is here, at the Basilica, that Archbishop Romero took his last Sunday mass on 23rd March 1980.
He chose to use the mass to make a very public appeal to his fellow countrymen in his sermon.
He listed a number of atrocities that had recently occurred, where many people were murdered.
Then he asked his fellow Salvadorans to remember that one of God's central laws was "Thou shall't not kill", imploring the soldiers and policemen to down arms and stop the needless killings.
The very next day Archbishop Romero was shot dead during a funeral mass at the Divine Providence Hospital chapel.
One of the last remnants of nineteenth century Salvadoran buildings, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an important building in downtown San Salvador.
The bishop of San Salvador, Antonio Adolfo PÃ©rez y Aguilar, organised the building of this basilica, and at the beginning of 1901 the inaugural stone was laid, starting a twenty year building schedule.
The building was constructed using European methods, which has so far managed to withstand the country's sizeable earthquakes.
For a period of ten years, from 1989 to 1999, the Basilica acted as San Salvador's principal church whilst construction work was completed on the cathedral.
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is situated at Calle Arce and 13 Avenida Norte very close to the cathedral.
GPS Coordinates: N 13.700279, W -89.198138
It is open Monday to Friday from 08:00 until 12:00 and 14:00 until 17:00 and Saturday from 08:00 until 12:00.
Parking is available on site at a cost of US$ 0.50
El Rosario Church
Archbishop Romero preached here
Archbishop Romero was known to preach at the El Rosario church, and this impressive building is definitely well worth a visit.
Built between the 1960's and 70's El Rosario church has a modern design and is famous for its magnificent stained glass windows that flood the inside of the church with a kaleidoscope of color.
The Salvadoran sculptor Ruben Martinez designed the chapel, and other monuments in and around San Salvador, including the Christ of Peace Monument
The El Rosario Church can be found on 4a Calle Oriente and 6a Avenida Sur , opposite Libertad Park.
GPS coordinates: N 13.697506, W -89.188664
Parking is available next to the church at a cost of US$ 0.50 per hour or part hour. You can also park on the road directly outside the front of the church if you are not staying long, or alternatively you can park at the cathedral and walk (it's only 1 block away).
The Romero Center
at Central American University
The site of the 1989 Jesuit Masacre
Photo Credit:Sandra Frost (Used with permission)
The Monsignor Romero Center is situated in the grounds of the Universidad Centroamericana, the site of a massacre in 1989, when six Jesuit priests were killed, along with their housekeeper and her daughter.
As well as the Romero Center there is also the "Hall of Martyrs." where you can view pictures and artefacts of Oscar Romero,
There is also a display of photos that honor the victims of El Salvador's civil war.
The university chapel is called "Jesus Christ the Liberator". and this is where the remains of the Jesuit priests are buried.
The Romero Center is open from 08:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 18:00 Monday through Friday and 08:00 - 11:30 on Saturdays.
There is no cost for entry, and parking costs USD $0.70 if you are travelling by car.
GPS Coordinates N13.678821, W-89.236037
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5 Extra Sites of Interest
to visit if you have time
The palace stands across from the cathedral
The National Palace is situated facing the same square as the Cathedral, and although it does not have any real link to Archbishop Romero it is worth a visit whilst you are in the vicinity.
The gardens at the center are planted with palmn trees and tropical flowers, and the area is incredibly peaceful. There are public toilets and seats where you can sit a while and take in the beauty of the architecture. In my opinion a coffee shop would be perfect here, as there is nowhere in the immediate downtown vicinity to have a coffee break.
Top Tip: Take a bottle of water with you as you will not find anywhere to stop for a drink break
Originally built in the nineteenth century it was devastated by fire in 1889.
In 1903 the government decided to rebuild and this is the magnificent building that was built.
Because of El Salvador being an active earthquake area most old building have not survived, so you should enjoy what few buildings are left, just in case another earthquake happens and destroys them.
The National Palace is situated on Calle RubÃ©n DarÃo, across the square from the the Metropolitan Cathedral.
GPS coordinates: N 13.697923, W -89.192011
You can park at the National Library, at the cathedral, or in nearby parking lots for approximately US$ 0.50 per hour.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 08:00 - 16:00 and admission costs USD$1:00 for Central American citizens, USD$3 for foreign nationals and free for students.
Monument to the Divine Savior of the World
A statue to Oscar Romero - stands in front of the Saviour of the World Monument
The Savior of the World Monument and statue to Oscar Romero is situated where Paseo General Escalon and Alameda Roosevelt meet, and it is an extremely busy junction.
Sunday morning is probably the easiest time to visit, when I have been able to park alongside the plaza to take photos.
This is probably the most well known icon of El Salvador, with its image appearing on car licence plates and on the now obsolete Colones currency.
Originally seen as a symbol of Salvadoran hope and faith, when it was rebuilt after the devastating 1986 earthquake it signified El Salvador's recovery from such a destructive quake.
It was created in honor of San Salvador's patron, the Divine Savior of the World, in 1942, and the figure that sits on the top was removed from the grave of the former Salvadoran President Araujo to take pride of place on this monument.
GPS coordinates are N 13.701321, W-89.224488
Parking is not easily available, you could maybe park on the underground car park and Gallerias mall and walk the short distance. If you only want to park to take photos the McDonalds car park, adjacent to the roundabout, makes a good photo vantage point.
Romero - Download now or buy on DVD
I can thoroughly recommend this film on the life of Oscar Romero to anyone interested in his tragic death.
Unable to buy this in El Salvador I ordered it and visitors brought it with them.
They enjoyed it so much that they brought their own copy.
David J Guzman Museum of Anthropology
El Salvador's Anthropology Museum
Named in honor of David JoaquÃn GuzmÃ¡n (1843-1927) the Salvadoran scientist, the Anthropology Museum is built in a modern style, and whilst it may not look much from the outside it is considered to be the best museum in El Salvador and is definitely worth a visit.
Inside the terracotta colored building you will find two floors that are filled with Salvadoran artefacts.
From El Salvador's Mayan heritage right through to the religiously diverse nation that exists today you will finds lots to look at.
The museum is situated at Final La Revolucion Avenue, Colonia San Benito, San Salvador, opposite the CIFO trade centre.
GPS Coordinates: N 13.687187, W-89.238682
Parking is available at CIFCO and taxis are usually available in the area..
The museum is open from 0900 - 17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday.
Admittance costs are US$1:00 for Salvadoran and Central American citizens, free for children under the age of 8 and elderly people and US$3:00 for foreign nationals
A sanctuary run by the Chacon sisters
The Chacon sisters were friends of the late Ãscar Romero, and if you choose to visit the sanctuary that they run you will be regaled with stories about the Archbishop.
The romero sanctuary is situated on 4 Calle Poniente in Santa Tecla.
GPS Coordinates: N 13.672301,W -89.29268
Paseo El Carmen
Paeso El Carmen
Photo Credit:Casa Cicak 2013, all rights reserved
Situated just a few miles from downtown San Salvador, at the edge of the greater San Salvador conurbation, is the city of Santa Tecla.
Built as a new capital city for El Salvador in the middle of the nineteenth century, a role that it only held for four years, Santa Tecla is home to several significant buildings and is undergoing a large amount of renovation and rejuvenation.
The main area of rejuvenation centers around the church of El Carmen, a short walk from the Romero Sanctuary. It is not possible to go inside the magnificent church as it was rendered unsafe following an earthquake. Services are now hedl in a new church that was buitl at the side of El Carmen.
If you visit Paseo El Carmen during the day time it does not look anything special. But visit on an evening, especially at the weekend and you will find a hub of activity, with bars, and a street market with food and entertainment.
I can fully understand why President Funes included Paseo El Carmen in the Romero tour, because if you are trying to entice tourists to visit a country that has an international reputation for civil wars and gang violence (and it is important to remember that gang violence has been greatly reduced lately) this really is a safe and pleasant area to visit, and gives tourists chance to buy locally made handicrafts.
Paseo El Carmen is one of my all time favorite places to visit. A five minute drive from my home, it always has something different and exciting to offer, and visiting family and friends that we have taken there always love it too.
Parking is available on the new Cafetalon car park which is situated next to the Cafetalon park at one end of Paseo El Carmen. Parking charges are on a sliding scale, dependong on tiem of arrival and departure. If arriving before 5pm and leaving at 8pm expect to pay around US0.85 as an aproximate guide.
GPS Coordinates for the Cafetalon car park: N13.67498, W-89.283362, GPS Coordinates for the Church of El Carmen: N 13.675485, W-89.288464
If you are visiting Paseo El Carmen on a Saturday the street stalls and entertainment begin to set up at around 16:00 and the place is lively until late.
Oscar Romero - Other Tributes
20th Century Martyrs at Westminster Abbey - London, England
If you are not able to visit El Salvador a statue of Archbishop Romero can be viewed at Westminster Abbey in a line up of twentieth century martyrs. The statue was sculpted by John Roberts and unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.
A Barry Woods Johnston statue of Oscar Romero can also be seen in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
Beatification of Archbishop Romero
Archbishop Oscar Romero is progressing to being made a saint, but the path to beatification can be a long one.
His sainthood was put on hold, due to political reasons. Usually a person has to have performed a miracle to be considered for sainthood. An alternative pathy is through martyrdom, and although nobody disoutes that Romero was a martyr, it makes a difference if that martyrdom was "odium fide" which translates as “in hatred of the faith" or whether there were social and political motives driving his actions.
Pope Benedict XVI supported the beatification, and under Pope Francis the obstacles that were stopping its progress were "unblocked", so hopefully the road to sainthood will be a swift one.
El Salvador Tributes to Archbishop Romero
When the new highway was opened in 2013, linking the Panamerican highway to the west with the highway that goes to the international airport, it was decided to honor Romero by naming it Boulevard Archbishop Romero (Bulevar Monsenor Romero).
In January 2014 it was anounced in the Salvadoran newspapers that the El Salvador International Airport is to be renamed Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero airport, and on 24th March, the 34th anniversary of Romero's murder a plaque with the new name was unveiled by President Funes
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Last updated on August 13, 2014
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