VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Before the sun rose in Rome Oct. 14, 88-year-old Gaspar Romero and his brother, 93-year-old Tiberio Romero were at the head of the line of thousands of people waiting to get into St. Peter’s Square.
The two were at the Vatican for the canonization of their brother, St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980.
In the glow of the lights under the colonnade surrounding St. Peter’s Square, the Romero brothers and other family members waited with a group of priests from El Salvador.
“Thanks to this event, our country has become known in the whole world,” Gaspar Romero told Catholic News Service. “So many people in the world were waiting for this.”
While standing in line, he shared an anecdote of the honors his brother received throughout the years.
“The biggest honor was when Queen Elizabeth of England contacted me,” he said, explaining it happened under atypical circumstances. “I had seen in the papers that the Westminster Abbey was preparing a statue (of Archbishop Romero in 1998), and so I wrote a thank-you note to them.”
A few days later, the British ambassador visited Gaspar Romero at his home and invited him to meet the queen. “For me that was something unexpected, unexplainable and unasked for,” he said with a chuckle.
The Anglican Church, while not formally canonizing St. Romero, honored him and nine others as “martyrs of the 20th century” and erected their statues in Westminster Abbey. Lord Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, led an official delegation of the Anglican Communion at the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Although he had kept a low profile in the wake of his brother’s death, Gaspar Romero recently has begun to share his experience publicly.
“I feel proud as a brother and as a family member,” he said, “but also as part of the (Salvadoran) people because over there, they love him a lot.”
The younger Romero said his trip to Rome made him realize just how much people from around the globe share that sentiment.