Nov 16 - “Martyrs of the Jesuit University” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Memorial Day!
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In the early morning hours of November 16, 1989, government troops forced their way into the Jesuit residence of the Central American University in San Salvador and brutally murdered six priests and two women. 75,000 others had already been killed in El Salvador’s civil war and while each death was equally tragic, these eight murders immediately took on special symbolic importance. Shot in the head with M16’s at close range, their brains had been blown out of their skulls. It was as if the army had wanted to wipe out the intellectual life of their country, trampling on all that the university and western civilization represented.
The husband of one of the martyrs has turned the yard in which their bodies were found into a rose garden, which is why roses fill the center of this icon. Moving clockwise from the top, the martyrs are Ignacio Martín-Baró, Amando López, Julia Elba Ramos, Ignacio Ellacuría, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Celina Ramos and Joaquín López y López.
These people were teachers, priests, peacemakers, and innocent women. Their crime was that they took too seriously the Gospel and the democratic constitution of their country --documents that had become dusty through neglect. Written documents like these that preserve moral ideals soon lose their life if they are not re-animated in each generation by prophets, artists, and holy fools. These martyrs were prophets who paid the ultimate price so that the ideals they cherished would not die.