El Salvador celebrates beatification of 2 priests, 2 lay people

San Salvador, Jan 22 (EFE).- Priests Rutilio Grande and Cosme Spessotto, and lay people Nelson Lemus and Manuel Solórzano, became new martyrs of the Catholic Church of El Salvador on Saturday when they were beatified more than 40 years after their deaths during the civil war.

The ritual was carried out in a festive atmosphere with a small number of attendees due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With our apostolic authority we grant that the venerable servants of God – Rutilio Grande, Manuel Solórzona and Nelson Lemus, as well as Cosme Spessotto – martyrs, heroic witnesses of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of justice (…) from now on be called blessed,” Father Rodolfo Cardenal proclaimed when reading the apostolic letter sent by Pope Francis.

The beatification, led by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, was celebrated by attendees with a long applause, while a huge portrait with the faces of the four martyrs was unveiled amid shouts of joy.

On March 12, 1977, Jesuit Father Grande, Lemus and Solórzano were traveling from Aguilares to Grande’s hometown El Paisnal for a novena when they were gunned down by a paramilitary death squad, according to the Vatican News.

Catholic parishioners and residents of El Paisnal celebrated the beatification of their pastor, watching the ceremony on screens in the center of town, while others walked there after gathering at the monument known as the Three Crosses.

The Italian Spessotto, who was born in 1923 in Mansuè (Treviso) and was assigned to the central municipality of San Juan Nonualco, was shot dead on June 14, 1980 while he was kneeling in a church pew.

Each one had, in their own ways, spoken up for the poor and denounced the attacks by security forces against the civilian population, as well as other human rights violations. EFE


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