Romero's homilies presented to Pope Francis

Pope Francis accepts the Romero Homilies from Julian Filochowski. Osservatore Romano
Pope Francis accepts the Romero Homilies from Julian Filochowski, Osservatore Romano

As the Catholic Church around the world celebrates the centenary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero – and many continue to anticipate his canonisation – Pope Francis has been presented with six volumes of the English translation of the Salvadorian Archbishop’s homilies.

The presentation was made by Jesuit Missions Consultant and Chair of the Archbishop Romero Trust, Julian Filochowski OBE, at the end of the Ash Wednesday General Audience on 1 March in St Peter's Square. "I presented a bag with all six volumes of Archbishop Romero's homilies to Pope Francis," he says, adding: "I’m not sure what he made of it but he listened to my Spanish explanation patiently and seemed to smile!"

The homilies of Blessed Oscar Romero have been published by Convivium in Miami, which acknowledges the role of the Archbishop Romero Trust in their publication. The Trust is supported by a grant from the Jesuits in Britain and Fr Frank Turner SJ, the Province’s Delegate for the Intellectual Apostolate, is a member.

From the time Oscar Arnulfo Romero was named archbishop of San Salvador on 22 February 1977 until he was murdered at the altar on 24 March 1980, he delivered 193 homilies that were broadcast to the nation by radio. These homilies were later transcribed and published in six volumes in El Salvador; the English translation entitled A Prophetic Bishop Speaks to His People is available on Amazon. The homilies are the impassioned voice of a prophetic pastor addressing his people and his nation at a time of unprecedented crisis and violence. They offer an unsparing indictment of the harsh political reality of El Salvador but persistently summon Salvadorans to respond courageously to the Gospel mandates of peace, love, and social equality.

The Martyr VestmentsBlood-stained relic: Romero's clerical shirt. Jan Graffius

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Oscar Romero. In El Salvador, it has been declared the Year of Romero; while throughout the world people are celebrating the life, witness and enduring legacy of the Archbishop of San Salvador. A series of events, including services and lectures, are planned across England, Wales and Scotland. These include Romero Week, which coincides with the anniversary with his martyrdom, for which the guest speaker will be Sr Martha Zechmeister CJ. She teaches theology at the University of Central America in San Salvador and will speak on The Secret of Romero: Passion for God and Compassion for the Poor. Among the venues at which she will give the Romero Lecture will be the Lauriston Jesuit Centre in Edinburgh, on Monday 20 March starting at 7.30pm.

Although he was not a Jesuit, Archbishop Oscar Romero had many connections with the Society of Jesus. He was trained by the Jesuits in seminary and chose a phrase from the Spiritual Exercises as his episcopal motto: Sentire cum Ecclesia - 'To think and feel with the Church'. Read more about his Jesuit links in the Summer 2015 of Jesuits & Friends. Since 2007, Jan Graffius, the Curator at Stonyhurst College, has been involved in the preservation of the relics of Archbishop Romero including the 'Martyr Vestments': a simple purple cotton chasuble, a white alb and cincture, a grey cotton shirt and a pair of black woollen trousers – the clothes he was wearing when he was murdered while saying Mass.