The unanticipated crowd well exceeded the 14,353-seat capacity of the Cox Convention Center and several thousand had to be turned away. Many more were able to watch via live video stream on EWTN, including residents of Santiago Atitlán in Guatemala, where Rother had served from 1968 until his murder on July 28, 1981.
The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City. More than 50 bishops and cardinals, from Italy, South Africa and Guatemala, as well as more than a dozen U.S. states, participated. The Mass included sections read in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Comanche, and Tzutujil. The event began with a premiere screening of a new documentary film on the life of Rother, commissioned by the diocese.
Rother is the first recognized martyr in the United States, and the first U.S.-born priest to be beatified. After a ten-year cause, promoted by Archbishop Emeritus Eusebius Beltran, beginning Oct. 5, 2007, Rother was pronounced “Blessed” in an apostolic letter from Pope Francis delivered by Amato. In his homily, Amato declared, “the murder of Father Rother was a real and true martyrdom in odium fidei (in hatred of the faith).” [More]