El Salvador Tourist Board has launched the Monsignor Romero City Tour, a new tour of San Salvador and other locations linked to the life and legacy of Archbishop Oscar Romero, in a bid to capitalize on the importance of this historical figurehead and boost religious tourism to the country.
Monsignor Oscar Romero, “the voice of the poor and persecuted”, was a crucial figure in the struggles that led to civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. His love for his people, who were suffering violence and oppression, led him to take their side and to denounce their oppressors. His outspoken sermons at San Salvador Cathedral gained him huge popular support and international acclaim. He was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the Universities of Georgetown (USA) and Leuven (Belgium) and in 1979 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
His position also led to accusations of being a revolutionary and death threats, and he was assassinated while celebrating mass at the Chapel of the Divine Providence Hospital in 1980. He has become a 20th Century Martyr, commemorated as such with a statue in Westminster Abbey, and is now being canonized to become a Saint.
While his tomb at San Salvador Cathedral has attracted many Catholic pilgrims in the past decades, the new Monsignor Romero City Tour aims to extend the appeal to many other international visitors interested in the history of the country and anybody who supports his cause for justice and equality around the world.
The City Tour around San Salvador takes approximately six hours, and can be extended to up to two days to include a visit to the nearby town of Santa Tecla and other places of interest in the historic centre of San Salvador. The tour is available through several local operators and more information can be found on El Salvador Tourist Board’s website www.elsalvador.travel.
Sites visited in the Monsignor Romero City Tour include:
Monsignor Romero Centre and Martyrs Museum: A poignant museum where visitors can learn about the troubled history of El Salvador and remember the martyrs and victims of the 1980s civil war. Its peaceful Roses Garden commemorates the six priests who were murdered there, together with their housekeeper and her young daughter, in 1989.
San Salvador Cathedral: A church in honour of Our Saviour was built here back in the 16th century. The current modern building occupies its site, after several expansions and rebuilding following earthquakes and fires. Its crypt houses the tomb of Archbishop Romero.
The Museum of the Word and Image: A museum aimed at preserving the history and culture of El Salvador through photograph and videos, as well as a programme of seminars. It also features photographs illustrating Oscar Romero’s life.
Divine Providence Hospital: The site of Archbishop Romero’s assassination and a focus of pilgrimage for decades, the Hospital includes the house where he lived as Archbishop of San Salvador, with many of his personal mementoes and photographs.
Statue of Monsignor Romero and the monument to the Saviour of the World (El Salvador, which gives the country its name)
The extended tour also includes the following visits:
National Museum of Anthropology: The museum features a permanent exhibition about the life and legacy of Monsignor Romero, as well as displays about religion in El Salvador, from ancient indigenous beliefs to the present day.
Monsignor Romero Sanctuary at the Chacon Sisters’ House in Santa Tecla, followed by a walk along the Paseo del Carmen in Santa Tecla to enjoy the local cuisine. Personal friends of Oscar Romero, the Chacon Sisters open their house to visitors and share their memories of the Archbishop.
National Palace, San Salvador: Built in 1974 in the neoclassic style, and witness to many important historical events.
Church of Rosario: One of the most modern churches in San Salvador, with an impressive pillar-free interior.
Sacred Heart Basilica: A 19th century basilica built in the neo-gothic style, which was temporarily the site of the Archbishop of San Salvador.