Fr Rutilio Grande’s martyrdom marked the beginning of a campaign of persecution of the Church in El Salvador.
Rutilio was assassinated on March 12th 1977 together with his sacristan, Manuel Solorzano and young assistant Nelson Lemus. They were shot by a death squad as they drove from Aguilares to celebrate Mass in the village of El Paisnal. The killings occurred less than three weeks after Oscar Romero was named Archbishop of San Salvador. As a Jesuit priest Rutilio had served, ten years earlier, on the staff of the seminary in San Salvador where Oscar Romero came to live - and they became friends.
Rutilio took charge of the rural parish of Aguilares in 1972. It was at the epicentre of growing tension and social conflict where landless peasants worked as exploited day labourers on the vast sugar cane plantations of wealthy landowners. Rutilio with a team of young Jesuits promoted programmes of conscientisation in the manner of Paulo Freire and established a remarkable network of basic Christian communities following the directives from the Medellin Conference of Latin American Bishops.
Rutilio preached and spoke with passion and clarity about the injustices suffered by the rural population and he stood with them as they organised to seek land reform and social development. The landowners came to see Rutilio’s pastoral programmes as a great threat to their interests.
The killing of this Salvadoran priest was a huge shock, but especially to Rutilio’s friend Archbishop Romero. Romero determined to follow the same path taking the side of the poor and exploited that Rutilio had pioneered - and it put Romero on the road to his own Calvary three years later. The Cause for the beatification of Rutilio and his two companions is moving forward rapidly and is expected soon to come to fruition in Rome alongside Oscar Romero’s canonisation.
In the Spanish language a number of articles and books have been written on Rutilio Grande - but few in English. The principal English language analysis of Rutilio is a book by Thomas Kelly, ‘When the Gospel Grows Feet’. It is complemented by Kelly’s more recent ‘Rutilio Grande SJ: Homilies and Writings’ which, as the title suggests, is a translation of various of Rutilio’s texts and sermons. Both are available on Amazon.
We have below one or two articles on Rutilio in English and we hope to add translations of other materials which are presented here in Spanish. They are the texts of two pamphlets that were produced in San Salvador at the Monseñor Romero Centre at the UCA (the Jesuit University) - which has kindly given permission for the Trust to put them here in downloadable pdf formats.
Click here to read a talk given by the late Dean Brackley SJ on Rutilio Grande SJ and Archbishop Romero: Martyrs for our Time.
25th Anniversary of Rutilio Grande: His Homilies
30th Anniversary of Rutilio Grande: Testimonies to Rutilio
This brief video in Spanish of Rutilio's life is also produced by the UCA.