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 Cosma 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 March 5, 1928, entered the Society of Jesus in 1945 and was ordained priest in 1959. He was the first priest to be killed during the civil war in El Salvador. Has assassination had a huge impact on Óscar Romero, then Archbishop of San Salvador, who spoke out more and more openly about the war and was later murdered himself.
The beatification celebration will be streamed live on YouTube on January 22nd at 5 p.m. El Salvador time.
Video message from Father General
Video on Rutilio Grande
An article on America magazine on Fr. Rutilio 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).