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Mass in Los Angeles to celebrate canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero

Mass in Los Angeles to celebrate canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero
Archbishop Oscar Romero at his residence in San Salvador in July 1979. (Leif Skoogfors / Getty Images)

A special Mass in Los Angeles on Sunday will honor seven people, including former Pope Paul VI and slain Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as they’re elevated to sainthood during a canonization ceremony in Rome.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels downtown will also pay tribute to four other religious leaders and an orphan boy during a Spanish-language Mass at 12:15 p.m., hours after they are canonized by Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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Three thousand people are expected to fill the L.A. cathedral for the special mass. The event will be livestreamed from the cathedral’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

For many in attendance, the focus will be on Romero, who is revered as a hero for fighting oppression and resisting the massacre of poor people during the civil war in his native El Salvador.

Romero was shot in the heart by a right-wing death squad as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in 1980.

For years, church conservatives tried to block Romero’s canonization because they perceived him as a left-wing radical.

Salvadorans at home and abroad cheered the Vatican’s announcement in March that Pope Francis had cleared the path for Romero’s sainthood, with some calling it a sign of hope at a time when the Trump administration was rescinding temporary protected status for Salvadorans in the U.S.

“We thank God for these canonizations,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles. “Our new saint, Paul VI, was prophet for our times. ... Monseñor Romero was a heroic bishop and martyr for the faith.”

Thousands of Salvadorans, many of them from Los Angeles, have traveled to the Vatican over the past week to witness the canonization firsthand.

Parishes across Los Angeles, home to a large community of Salvadoran immigrants and their descendants, have been holding vigils and Masses highlighting Romero’s life. A chapel featuring relics and photographs in his honor will be open inside the cathedral through Oct. 26.

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