Remembering the lives of Blessed Paul VI & Blessed Oscar Romero

This Sunday, 14th October 2018, the Holy Father, Pope Francis will canonise (declare saints) two hugely influential figures in the recent history of the Catholic Church, Blessed Pope Paul VI and Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero.  Both contemporaries who met on a number of occasions, and both faithful stewards in the vineyard of the Lord.

Blessed Paul VI

Giovanni Battista Montini was born in 1897 in the town of Concesio, Italy, the future Pope Paul VI was ordained a priest at the age of 22. He was named Archbishop of Milan in 1954 prior to his election as Bishop of Rome in 1963 following the death of Pope St. John XXII during the Second Vatican Council.

As pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, including the promulgation of all of the council’s documents and led the process of implementing the council’s reforms. Anyone who opens the altar Missal in any Catholic church throughout the world will find the formal declaration of Paul VI promulgating the new Roman Missal.

During his Pontificate, the soon to be saint, became the first modern pope to leave the confines of the Vatican to undertake Apostolic visits abroad.  He visited visiting the Middle East and Asia, as well as Colombia, Australia, Uganda and New York where he addressed the United Nations in October 1965.  Although he was a very shy man, Blessed Paul VI redefined the modern papacy and took on the challenging role of addressing the moral decline in the world.

In 1968 he published his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, reaffirming Church teaching against contraception in wake of the sexual revolution. Now seen as a prophetic document, the publication caused much controversy.  The principle laid out in the encyclical became the key topics of discussion in the recent Synod on Family Life.

Following the publication of Humanae Vitae, the last 10 years of Blessed Paul VI’s pontificate became more burdensome.  He died on the 6thAugust 1978 at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Both miracles attributed to Paul VI’s intercession involve the healing of an unborn child.

Blessed Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero y Galdámez was born on 15thAugust 1917 to Santos Romero and Guadalupe de Jesús Galdámeza.  He was ordained a priest in 1942, having been delayed a year for his as he was a year below the required age of 25. He was appointed as the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 by Blessed Paul VI.

Throughout his ministry he spoke passionately against the injustice, corruption, poverty, torture in his country and against assassination.  He was greatly affected by the assassination of a close priest friend who worked extensively with the poor, only weeks after his installation as Archbishop. In 1979, the Revolutionary Government Junta came to power, and with it a notable increase in human rights abuses and mark the start of the Salvadoran Civil War.

Romero once said to Pope St. John Paul II that it was ‘difficult to support the government in Salvador because it legitimized terror and assassinations’ and he often used his radio broadcasts to list the names of those that had disappeared or been either tortured or murdered.

Whilst his outspoken behaviour and actions won much admiration across the world, he also gained many enemies in the political leadership. On 23rdMarch 1980, he preached a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to ‘obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression and violations of basic human rights’.

He was assassinated the next day as he celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Divine Providence cancer hospital in San Salvador.  The gunman has never been identified, but the State acknowledged their responsibility in his murder.

Archbishop Romero’s funeral took place on 30thMarch 1980 with over 250,000 mourners present from all over the world. His body is buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador.

To read more about the life and teachings of Archbishop Oscar Romero visit

As we celebrate the canonisation of these two Servants of God, we seek their intercession on a world that still changes at an ever increasing rate, and with continued turmoil in places.

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