BY Ryan McDougall | March 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Heart of Edinburgh: The surprising link between St Oscar Romero and capital city

Ryan McDougall tells the story of an Salvadoran couple with links to Scotland, who have decided to marry in an Edinburgh church due to its incredible devotions to St Oscar Romero.

It may have been saintly intervention that drew El Salvadoran couple John McCormack and Anna Campos to Sacred Heart Church in Edinburgh.

While looking for a church in which to marry they happened across one which hosts a relic of their home county’s most famous saint: Oscar Romero.

“I just happened to stumble upon the Church,” John McCormack said. “We’d considered another church prior to the visit but we decided on Sacred Heart because of the shrine to St Romero—and also because we really liked the church!”

Mr McCormack believes coming across Sacred Heart was not a coincidence, as he has seen signs of St Romero several times in recent months.

He said he found a stamp picturing the saint in his father’s wallet after he died, and during a recent visit to an insurance company the lawyer he had arranged to meet was wearing necklace with a St Romero figure.

“I’ve started to believe that it’s actually the case that St Romero has sent me to these places,” he said.

St Romero is widely revered for his work speaking out against poverty and injustice, but his legacy in a country with a complex history has been clouded by political infighting.

“Even today in El Salvador, he’s not a figure who is loved by everyone. He’s very controversial,” Mr McCormack said.

“I’ve been working with the Church in El Salvador and with a group of private sector leaders to rewrite some of the history of who Romero was.

“He wasn’t some guerrilla leader trying to tell the poor to rise up; he just wanted to help people who didn’t have access to the basics: a place to live, water, food.”

Mr McCormick owns a business named Grupo Aberdeen, a name inspired by his Scottish heritage, and he’s hoping friends from Scotland and across the world can attend his wedding in September.

The parish of Sacred Heart has a special devotion to St Romero and is hosting a series of events in celebration of his life.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh is to bless the shrine to St Oscar Romero on Sunday March 24. The shrine features a first-class relic from the saint, a piece of his blood-stained alb from the day he was assassinated.

The church will also be displaying a pocket diary of Fr Rutilia Grande SJ, a friend of the saint who was killed just weeks after St Romero became an archbishop, a heartache that was key to the saint’s commitment to social injustice.

On Thursday March 14, a talk took place at the nearby Lauriston Jesuit Centre where Julian Filochowski—who knew St Romero personally—and Jan Graffius—who has worked in El Salvador to preserve the saint’s relics—spoke about the saint.

On Saturday March 23, the parish will host a Journey for Justice event organised by local S6 Caritas pupils.

Parishioners of Sacred Heart and three other Christian churches are to travel to each other’s buildings for prayer and reflection, followed by a film shown at Sacred Heart.

All are welcome to attend, and Sacred Heart has explained how they are working on even more initiatives to see that the saint’s story is known.

Andrew Cassidy, pastoral associate of Sacred Heart, said the parish is working on promotional packs for school pupils that will tell the saint’s story.

“We think it will be good for them because there’s a lot on social justice,” he said.

“At the minute, we’re just awaiting a decision on the process. Hopefully we can get it into as many primary and secondary schools as we can to detail his life.”

Visit for more information on Sacred Heart’s St Romero events.


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