Whether or not he knew it, just before being assassinated while delivering mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in El Salvador, Archbishop Oscar Romero uttered the words that would act as a rallying cry for his supporters: “If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people. I say so without boasting, with the greatest humility. … A bishop will die, but God’s church, which is the people, will never perish” (Sandoval 2018).
On Saturday, May 23, almost 300,000 people took to the streets in San Salvador to celebrate the beatification of Oscar Romero, thirty-five years after the archbishop was assassinated at the start of El Salvador’s civil war. The celebration of his martyrdom—for it has been celebrated by the leftist social movement long before its recognition by Pope Francis—as well as the fierce opposition to his sanctification from within El Salvador, illustrate the deep divisions in this small Central American country that endure nearly twenty-five years after the end of its civil war.