The preferential option for the poor in the 11th century: St. Elphege
I recently came across a figure whom I had not encountered before: St. Elphege, a monk, abbot, and finally archbishop, living in England before the Norman conquest, who, like Oscar Romero centuries later, lost his life defending the lives of the poor. St. Elphege is revered as a martyr and St. Anselm of Canterbury defended the appropriateness of this title.
A short biography of Elphege is available here: http://www.bartleby.com/210/4/192.html. It is worth a quick look, if only because it shows that the practice of the preferential option has been a crucial aspect of Christian witness and sanctity for quite some time and does not, contrary to some misperceptions, arise as a novelty in the twentieth century.