Fr. Stanley Rother, a priest from Oklahoma who was murdered in Guatemala in 1981, will be beatified on September 23, it was announced on Monday. Beatification is one step below sainthood in the Catholic Church. After this date, Fr. Stanley Rother will be known as "Blessed Stanley Rother."
Fr. Rother served as a missionary in rural Guatemala for 13 years. He first moved there in 1968, and became fluent in Spanish and the indigenous language Tz'utujil. He translated the New Testament into Tz'utujil and celebrated Mass in the language as well. He also founded a hospital, school, and a radio station.
In January of 1981, during the Guatemalan civil war, Fr. Rother left the country after it was discovered that his name was on a death list. He received permission to return to Guatemala for Holy Week (the period leading up to Easter), and stayed there until his death on July 28, 1981.
Fr. Rother was murdered by three people who broke into the rectory and attempted to "disappear" him. Not wanting to put anyone else in danger, he did not call out for help and attempted to fend off the attackers himself. He was shot and killed shortly after.
He was recognized as a martyr in July of 2015 by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints of the Holy See, and Pope Francis signed his decree of martyrdom on December 2, 2016. Fr. Rother is the first recognized U.S.-born martyr. Because he was killed in an act of martyrdom, he does not need to have a miracle attributed to his intercession as his death fulfills that requirement.