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Pope Francis: Martyrdom is a grace from God

Rome: October 30, 2015. (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted pilgrims from El Salvador who came to the Vatican on Friday to thank the Holy Father for beatifying Archbishop Oscar Romero in May of this year.
500 people including Bishops, priests, religious, lay people and seminarians from El Salvador came to the Vatican on Friday to say quite simply “Thank You” to Pope Francis for beatifying Archbishop Oscar Romero in May 2015. The Archbishop was shot dead as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel on 24 March 1980. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered, Pope Francis said Oscar Romero’s life was taken violently, while he was celebrating the Eucharist, a supreme sacrifice of love, sealing with his blood the announcement of the Gospel.

At the heart of his address was the theme of martyrdom. The Pope recalled the martyrs of the past and said that today too the blood of many Christian martyrs is still being dramatically shed in the world, but he added, with the certain hope that it will bear fruit "in a rich harvest of holiness, justice, reconciliation and love for God."

He also underlined that no one is born a martyr, saying that it is a grace that the Lord gives. The Holy Father recalled the words of Archbishop Romero himself when he said, "We must be willing to die for our faith, even if the Lord does not give us this honour.”

Pope Francis went to say that the martyr is not someone who is relegated to the past, a beautiful image that adorns our churches and we remember with nostalgia.

No, he stressed, the martyr is a brother, a sister, who continues to accompany us in the mystery of the communion of saints, and that, “united to Christ, does not ignore our earthly pilgrimage, our sufferings, our agonies.”

People like Archbishop Romero, said the Pope, are a treasure and a hope for the Church and for Salvadoran society.

Concluding his address the Holy Father noted that the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, and the example shown by Oscar Romero for his beloved nation was a stimulus for a renewed proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Pope added that “the holy people of God on pilgrimage in El Salvador who still face a series of difficult tasks, need like the rest of the world, the evangelizing announcement of the Gospel that will help to advance the promotion and development of a nation in search of true justice, genuine peace and the reconciliation of hearts.