People and Powers

Stylized portrait of Óscar Arnulfo Romero y GaldámezLearn more about key figures and people groups in The Weight of All Things.


Óscar Romero

The book begins with the funeral of Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, which occurred on March 30, 1980. Who was Monseñor Romero? Why is he so significant to the people of El Salvador (both then and now)? To learn more about the life and legacy of Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez, listen to this brief NPR story, explore this web collection of Romero resources, or read this brief summary of his ministry and impact from Just Spirituality by Mae Elise Cannon (to order the full book, visit

Salvadoran Farmers and Peasants

Much of the story takes place in Chalatenango, one of the fourteen departments of El Salvador, where many people prior to and during the civil war depended on small-scale farming for their livelihood. To learn more about everyday life of Salvadoran farmers and peasants read from One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta.

Guerrillas and Revolutionaries

The story’s nine-year old protagonist, Nicolás, interacts with “guerrilleros” from the Popular Liberation Force (FPL, Fuerzas Populares de Liberación Farabundo Martí) and the soldiers from the Salvadoran National Army. These groups represent some of the principal forces that engaged in violent conflict during the civil war. For a good description of the various economic and political groups, and of the different military and paramilitary groups (including the so-called “death squads”) involved in the civil war, read from The Salvador Option: The United States in El Salvador (1977-1992) by Russell Crandall.

The Virgin Mary

A figure who frequently appears in the story to encourage and guide Nicolás is la Virgen Milagrosa, the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. As you read, pay careful attention to how Nicolás interacts with the various “versions” of la Virgen that he encounters, and be sure to note when and how she appears and speaks to him. For more on the importance of the Virgin Mary in Latin American Catholicism see “Religious Beliefs” from Pew’s Research Center report on Religion in Latin America. For more on Mary in scripture see Dr. Amy Peeler’s reflections. Dr. Matt Milliner offers reflections on the role of Mary in The Weight of All Things.


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