Rafael Palacios, Salvadoran martyr of the base communities

On June 20, 1977, Padre Rafael Palacios was gunned down on the streets of Santa Tecla, El Salvador. He had worked with base communities and had recently been named pastor of a church whose previous pastor had been martyred.

convento painting

Padre Rafael identified with the poor and worked, accompanying them in their efforts to grow in a liberating faith through the base communities. One of his strongest actions was to arrange a Lenten Stations of the Cross with strong justice themes.

He was buried in a side chapel of the church of Santa Lucía in Suchitoto where his family lived and where he grew up.

DSC00586Blessed Monseñor Romero said this of him in a homily:

“In him we see the new man and the zeal he had to fashion those new human beings that Latin America needs today—not just by changing structures but above all by changing hearts. It is the voice of conversion, the voice of genuine evangelization.”

Today I’d like to share parts of the hymn that was written in his honor:

La verdad de la
anunciaste siempre fiel;
por seguir a Jesucristo
te mataron, Rafael.

The truth of the Gospel
you announced, always faithful.
They killed you, Rafael,
for following Jesus Christ.

1. Los campesinos han doblado,
anunciando si dolor
ante el cuerpo acribillado
por el odio y el rencor.
No entendieron su lenguaje,
no aceptaron su misión,
no aguantaron su mensaje
que exigió liberación.

The campesinos have bent down
announcing their sorrow
before his body riddled [with bullets]
because of hate and resentment.
They did not understand his language;
they did not accept his mission;
they could not stand his message
which demanded liberation.

2. Como a Cristo flagelaron
con un látigo feroz
con calumnias te azotaron
para hacer callar tu voz.
Caminaste hacia el Calvario
como caminó Jesús
señalado por denarios
la metralla fue su cruz.

As they scourged Christ
with a fierce whip,
with slanders they whipped you
to silence your voice.
You walked toward Calvary
as Jesus walked,
branded by money,
shrapnel was your cross.

3. Que tristeza Santa Tecla
mucho rezo y devoción
pero matas el profeta
cuando exige conversión.
Hoy nos grita con su ejemplo
vivan con sinceridad.
Nuestro Dios no está en el templo,
sino en la comunidad.

What sadness for Santa Tecla,
with much prayer and devotion.
But you kill the prophet
when he called for conversion.
Now you cry out to us with you example:
live with sincerity.
Our God is not in the church building
but in the community

4. Trabajaste por el Reino
fue en tu vida un gran ideal;
por un mundo más fraterno
denunciaste siempre el mal.
Tus palabras ahora queman
con su fuego de verdad,
el Reino de Dios comienza
al construir fraternidad.

You worked for the Reign;
it was a great ideal in your life;
for a more fraternal world
you always denounced evil.
Your words now are on fire
with your fire of truth;
the Reign of God begins
by building fraternity.

5. Aunque tu cuerpo han matado
vivirás en el Señor
y los que te han escuchado
resucitarán tu amor.
Una cruz va adelante
nos invita a caminar;
una antorcha muy brillante
ilumina nuestro andar.

Even though they have killed your body,
you will live in the Lord
and those who have heard you
will raise up your love.
A cross goes before
and invites is to walk;
a very bright light
lightens up our way.

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