A key figure in the life of Consuela Flores in A Candle for Consuela, Father Rutilio Grande was a Jesuit priest in El Salvador dedicated to social justice and the rights of the poor. He was assassinated, aged 48. by a death squad on March 12, 1977.
Pope Francis approved Grande’s beatification in 2020. This is a major step in the process of declaring someone a saint. He said Grande was a “martyr of the faith who gave his life for the Gospel and for the poor.” He also said his beatification was “a sign of hope for all those who suffer persecution for their faith.”
Father Grande’s legacy continues to be celebrated in El Salvador and beyond, and he is remembered as a hero and a martyr for his commitment to social justice and human rights. His murder remains a tragic reminder of the violence and brutality that characterized the conflict in El Salvador and the human toll of the struggle for justice and peace.
Pope Francis has long expressed his intense admiration for both Grande and Archbishop Oscar Romero. At the entrance to his room at the Vatican hotel where he lives, is a piece of cloth with Romero’s blood on it and notes from a catechism teaching Grande delivered.
Rutilio’s death acted as a catalyst for the transformation of Archbishop Oscar Romero from a traditional cleric into a fierce supporter of the rights of oppressed “campesinos” to live in peace and with justice.
Rutilio and Romero were friends prior to engaging in the ministries that led them to their respective martyrdoms. They met before Romero was named archbishop when both worked at the local seminary in San Salvador.
“The announcement of the beatification of Father Rutilio Grande,” said Mercy Sister Ana Maria Pineda, a relative of the slain priest, “is received with jubilee and joy. Despite many falsehoods spread about the Jesuit priest, including that he was a subversive and took up arms, the truth survived, and he is being recognized for his commitment as a pastor to his people.”
Consuela mourned her loss in the soon-to-be-released FREE companion eBook “Roots of Destiny”.
“In the same year as Jorge was born, I started at a school set up by a Jesuit priest we had in Aguilares. His name was Father Rutilio Grande, and he came originally from El Paisnal, just a few miles from Aguilares. He had lived in Spain and was a friend of Bishop Oscar Romero. My father used to help out at San Jose Church, and I liked to listen to the Father’s sermons. They weren’t boring like some of the other priests. He talked about the injustices the people suffered, and I understood that when I saw how much some of the landowners had and how poor most of the people were. The landowners thought he was a threat to their interests and tried to stop their workers from going to the church when he was preaching. When I was seven, he started a small school, and I asked if I could go. I learned how to read and write at the school and how to do sums. I loved maths. Everyone thought I was strange because I enjoyed working out sums, but it helped me a lot later.”
Sources: Associated Press / National Catholic Reporter / Interviews