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Artist: Unknown; Title: Martyrdom of Five Cristeros. Translated Inscription: Execution of Cristeros by federal soldiers on the outskirts of San Gabriel, Jalisco, October 8, 1927. On the same site, the soldiers were ambushed, suffering the same fate. Date: 1927. The painting now hangs in the Knights of Columbus Museum: Knights of Columbus Religious Heritage Art Collection, New Haven, CT. (All rights reserved)
Every account of martyrdom forces us to think; “What if I were called to martyrdom. Would I have the courage to be willing to lay down my life for our Savior?” Pray that God would give you the grace to endure the trial. We must prepare for the day, even if it never comes, by being faithful to Him each and every moment. Indeed, as we learn through experience, each day is an opportunity to be a martyr (witness) by accepting His will with joy. That is truly a challenge, but we should always be inspired by those who have gone before us, as recounted in these stories of Mexican Martyrdom:
Remembering the Mexican martyrs of the Cristero rebellion
By Ann Ball
Until the May 21, 2000 canonization of 25 Mexican martyrs, many Catholics—even in the neighboring United States—were unaware of the scope and ferocity of the persecution unleashed against the Catholic Church in Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s. The bitter conflict known as the Cristero Rebellion (the Cristiada) is rarely mentioned by popular historians. Under the dictatorship of Plutarco Elias Calles, from 1924 to 1928, the Mexican government was bitterly anti-clerical; Calles wanted to eradicate the Catholic Church. In 1925 he attempted to establish a national church, expelled all foreign clergymen from the country, and confiscated the property of Church-affiliated agencies such as schools, hospitals, and charitable institutions. In 1926, 33 new legislative measures designed to suppress the Church—measures which became known as the Ley Calles (the Calles Law)—were enacted. The Ley Calles limited the number of priests who could serve in any locality, and the number of services they could lead, closed down seminaries and convents, and barred foreign priests from serving in Mexico.
With the knowledge of Pope Pius XI, the Mexican bishops closed the country’s Catholic churches in protest against these new repressive laws. Faithful Catholics mobilized, collecting over two million signatures on a petition calling for the repeal of the Ley Calles. But their efforts were ignored by the Mexican regime, and finally some Catholics, concluding that they had no other choice, took up arms in an effort to restore their religious liberty.
The Cristero rebels, whose cause was always handicapped by a shortage of weapons and a lack of military training and experience, officially began their military campaign on New Year’s Day in 1927. The rebellion began in Jalisco, and spread rapidly to surrounding areas. It ended 30 months later, with the results settled at a bargaining table rather than a battlefield.
Most of the Mexican Catholic bishops had always opposed armed conflict. From his place in exile, Bishop Pascual Diaz of Tabasco ceaselessly worked to formulate an agreement with the government that could bring an end to the fighting. Dwight Whitney Morrow, the US ambassador to Mexico, and Father John J. Burke, the head of the US National Catholic Welfare Conference (the predecessor to today’s US Catholic Conference) were also key players in the search for a negotiated solution.
When Alvaro Obregón, Calles’s successor as Mexican president, was assassinated two weeks after his election, Emilio Portes Gil was named interim president. Portes Gil was more flexible than his predecessors, and on June 21, 1929 his government reached an agreement with the Catholic negotiators. On June 27, the churches of Mexico were re-opened, to the joyous pealing of their bells.
Although it was not successful in meeting its goals, and anti-Catholic legislation would remain in place in Mexico almost until the end of the 20th century, the Cristiada left an indelible mark on Mexican history. The battle cry of the Cristeros, “Viva Cristo Rey,” still resounds today.
In May, some 20,000 Mexican pilgrims traveled to Rome for the ceremonies in which 25 heroes of the Cristiada were canonized. Among these new saints were the first six members of the Knights of Columbus ever to attain beatification. And many more Cristeros are being studied by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Fathers Miguel Pro, SJ, and Elías del Socorro Nieves have already been beatified. Causes have also been opened for the lay martyrs Maria de la Luz Camacho, Josefa Parra, Coleta Melendez Degollado, and José Sanchez del Rio, who was only 13 when he was killed. Finally there are eight other laymen whose causes have been opened. Here, in brief, are the stories of those eight Mexican Catholic heroes.
The social activist
Anacleto Gonzalez Flores was a fiery young attorney from Tepatitlan, in Jalisco, who had pledged to use his oratorical talents in service to God and his country. An excellent student, he gained the nickname “El Maestro Cleto,” (“Professor Cleto”). Gonzalez Flores was particularly influenced by Rerum Novarum, the great encyclical by Pope Leo XIII which first set out the major themes of Catholic social thought. He studied law in Guadalajara, where he was an enthusiastic member of the Association Catolica de la Juventaud Mexicana (ACJM)—an organization founded in Guadalajara in 1913, dedicated to the restoration the Christian social order in Mexico. He taught catechism, and as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul society, visited the poor, the sick, and prisoners. He wrote articles in magazines and newspapers, and founded a periodical to refute the anti-religious arguments that lay behind the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Alongside these activities and studies, Gonzalez cultivated a deep interior life as a daily communicant, and a third order Franciscan. In November of 1922, he married Maria Concepcion Guerrero Flores. He was deeply devoted to his wife and to family life and wrote, “The family is the true unifier, energetic and vigorous, in which rests all the good of society.”
In July 1918, Guadalajara had seen the first violent conflict between government forces and the Catholic faithful. Gonzalez worked to defend Catholic interests, and was able to secure the revocation of some unpopular decrees. In leading the Catholic response to the increasingly anti-clerical government policies, he elaborated a philosophy of resistance based on the non-violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi. He was jailed briefly in 1919, and by 1922, he had come to prominence as a coordinator of the first national congress of Catholic workers. That meeting, held in Guadalajara, led to the organization of the National Confederation of Catholic Workers, a group which soon spread throughout Mexico.
In 1924 Gonzalez organized another new group, the Union Popular, in order to revive the flagging spirits of the country’s Catholics. The Union Popular rapidly gained strength in Guadalajara, with the blessing and approval of Archbishop Orozco y Jimenez. Next Gonzalez and a colleague, Luis Padilla, founded a new periodical, Gladium, in which they wrote:
The country is a jail for the Catholic Church. In order to be logical, a Revolution must gain the entire soul of a nation. They will have to open a jail for each home, and they don’t have enough handcuffs or hangmen to bind up the hands and cut off the heads of the martyrs. We are not worried about defending our material interests, because these come and go; but our spiritual interests, these we will defend because they are necessary to obtain our salvation.
The Union Popular was based on pacifist principles, in contrast to the more militant line developed by the Liga Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa. The latter group, begun in Mexico City in 1925, supported the use of armed force, if necessary, to regain religious freedom; the Union Popular insisted that victory could be won through the power of non-violent resistance.
By 1926, however, the struggle to uphold the principles of non-violence was becoming more difficult. On August 3 of that year, the desecration of the sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Guadalajara prompted cries for open rebellion, which resounded throughout the state of Jalisco. In Zacatecas, Father Luis Batis and three other members of the ACJM were murdered. In October there were uprisings all across Jalisco—in Tlajomulco, Ameca, Cocula, Ciudad Guzman, Chapala, Atengo, Ayutla, and Tecolotlan. (These outbursts of rebellion caught President Calles by surprise. He considered religion a pastime for women and children, and called Jalisco, a center of fervent Catholic sentiment, the “Henhouse of the Republic.”)
Gonzalez Flores was caught in a moral dilemma. Now that armed conflict had begun, he began to ask himself how he could, in conscience, maintain his commitment to non-violence while thousands of Catholics were “put down to death like cannon fodder.” He made his decision during the last days of December 1926, when delegates from the Liga Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa came forward with a demand that the Union Popular declare itself for or against the armed struggle. Basing his position on the moral legitimacy of self-defense —an argument which had been accepted tacitly by some Mexican bishops, and openly by others—he decided to throw his support behind the rebels.
So Gonzalez brought together the leaders of the Union Popular, and announced:
The League has begun a revolutionary adventure with a single-hearted determination. For my part, my personal position is that I cannot be someone other than what my position demands. I will be with the Liga Defensora, and I will throw all that I am, and all that I have, into the balance. This much remains clear: the Union Popular was not made to be an instrument of civil war. Today, however, beyond doubt we are driven to extremes.
The die was cast, and Gonzalez was soon acting as a chief organizer of the resistance. In January of 1927 the guerrilla war began in earnest throughout all of Jalisco. The periodical Gladium carried news of the struggle, and exhortations for Catholics to help the Cristeros. From a series of hiding places, Gonzalez helped to set the strategy of the rebel campaign, wrote and sent out bulletins, and delivered speeches rousing support for the Cristiada.
The Mexican government naturally wanted to crush the rebellion immediately. General Jesus Maria Ferreira felt that the best way to achieve that goal would be to capture the chiefs of the Union Popular and the ACJM, and set the time for this action as the morning of April 1, 1927.
Gonzalez was captured at the home of the Vargas Gonzalez family and taken to military headquarters where General Ferreira ordered for him to be tortured, in an effort to learn more about the Cristeros. He was hanged by his thumbs until they were dislocated; the bottoms of his feet were slashed. Yet he steadfastly refused to give any information. The frustrated General Ferreira condemned Gonzalez to death, accusing him of masterminding an assassination. His Gladium colleague Luis Padilla and three young men from the Vargas Gonzalez family were also condemned, although the youngest of the Vargas brothers was released due to confusion about his age. On the first Friday of April 1927, at three in the afternoon, the prisoners were taken out to be shot. A short while thereafter, a defense attorney arrived with a stay of execution. He was too late.
When the body of Anacleto Gonzalez Flores was recovered by his family, hundreds of friends, relatives, and admirers passed by his home, to touch the body of Maestro Cleto and pay their final respects. Anacleto’s young widow brought their sons into the room where their father’s body lay. “Look,” she said to her eldest child:
This is your father. He has died defending the faith. Promise me on his body that you will do the same when you are older if God asks it of you.
The following day, thousands of Mexican Catholics ignored the heavy presence of the police, and perhaps even risked their lives, when they followed the bodies of the martyrs to the cemetery in Mezquitan, reciting prayers and singing hymns to Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe.
In an official statement that he released to explain the executions, General Ferreira said that he had found Anacleto Gonzalez Flores to be “the brains” behind the shooting of Edgar Wilkins, an American citizen; he added that Anacleto Flores and his “group of fanatics” were trying to stir up trouble between Mexico and the United States. General Ferreira successfully pressured the news media to publicize his statement. But the widow of Edgar Wilkins was never satisfied with the Mexican government’s explanation of his death. She wrote a protest to Washington, providing the name of the man she believed to be the real murderer of her husband, and explaining that the killer’s motive was straightforward: robbery.
Their leader’s example
Jorge and Ramon Vargas Gonzalez, who died alongside Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, were from Ahualuco de Mercado in the state of Jalisco. After their university studies, Jorge began working at the electric company while Ramon studied medicine. The brothers became active members of the ACJM and were followers of “Maestro Cleto.”
During the persecution of religious, the Vargas family gave refuge to a number of priests and seminarians. Jorge’s sister Maria Louisa recalled the family’s decision to shelter Anacleto as well:
We had already had in our house various priests and a group of young seminarians, but never a chief of the Cristeros. The responsibility of lodging him was enormous, but it was impossible to close the doors against him—this, never.
Once they were in jail, Gonzalez Flores and the brothers Vargas encountered Luis Padilla, who had also been taken prisoner in the same government crackdown. All five were put in the same room for interrogation. While Gonzalez was tortured, the others were exhaustively questioned and beaten. But following the example set by their leader, they remained steadfast and silent. Four were condemned; Florentino Vargas was set free because the police thought, erroneously, that he was below the age of legal majority. General Ferreira ordered a simultaneous execution, but Flores asked that he be shot last, so that he would be able to comfort the others up until the last moment. Together the condemned prisoners recited the Act of Contrition in a loud voice, and then a hail of bullets ended their final cry of Viva Cristo Rey! Their bodies were thrown outside on the patio of the police station, where they remained untended until their families claimed them.
Notice of the executions flashed like gunpowder through the city of Guadalajara. The homes of the martyrs filled rapidly with mourners. At the Vargas home, a relative began to cry loudly. Calmly the martyrs’ mother, Doña Elvira, quieted her by saying, “You know that our mission as mothers is to raise our children to heaven.” That night, the family and friends were surprised and overjoyed when Florentino unexpectedly arrived at home. His mother ran to embrace this son she had thought was dead, saying:
Ah, my son, how close you were to the crown of martyrdom. Now it is your obligation to live so as to merit the favor you have been given.
Luis Padilla Gómez, who had joined with Anacleto Gonzalez Flores to found Gladium, was born in Guadalajara. He once began studies for the priesthood, but struggled with his vocation and eventually left the seminary. A writer and deeply spiritual man, his personal diaries show his constant desire to give himself to God. In one moving passage he wrote, “Yes, Jesus, I will follow you, forgetting the world, even if hell passes over me. In the meantime, Lord, hide me in your wounds.”
In 1920, after completing philosophy studies, Luis dedicated himself to an apostolate as a catechist and social activist. A member of the ACJM since its founding, he became secretary of the Union Popular. By 1926 he had decided to resume his studies for the priesthood, but that option was no longer open to him; the seminaries had been closed and their students dispersed.
When he was in jail, with his death sentence pending, Padilla expressed the desire to go to confession. But no priest was available, and his friend and mentor Maestro Cleto assured him:
No, brother, now is not the hour to confess, but to request pardon and to pardon our enemies. God is a father and not a judge, the one that gives you hope. Your own blood will purify you.
Two more brothers
The brothers Ezequiel and Salvador Huerta Gutierrez were born in Magdalena and finished their education in Guadalajara. Ezequiel had a beautiful tenor voice and used his talent in the churches of the city. He was offered a contract with an Italian opera company, but refused on the grounds that his voice was dedicated to the service of God.
Ezequiel married in 1904 and fathered ten children. A dedicated family man, he loved his wife Maria and their children enormously and was generous and affectionate with them. Their home life was busy but happy. In 1925 Ezequiel made his profession as a third order Franciscan.
In 1926, when the churches were closed because of the religious persecution, Ezequiel Huerta became the custodian of the church of San Felipe Neri. His two oldest sons were active Cristeros. General Ferreira believed that Ezequiel’s wife was also active among the Cristeros. (She had, in fact, nursed the wounded among the rebels.) In March of 1927, Maria Huerta was captured while attending a clandestine Mass and on her release the couple discussed their belief that this incident was only a prelude to something worse.
Ezequiel Huerta attended the wake for Anacleto Flores, and on the following day he stayed with his children while his wife went to pay her respects. At about nine in the morning the police arrived at their home, telling Ezequiel that he had been denounced for having Cristero priests hidden in his house. A young seminarian who was a friend of the family, Juan Bernal, arrived at the Huerta home soon after the police, and later testified about his friend’s last hours.
After a fruitless search for hidden clerics, the police took Ezequiel Huerta and young Bernal into custody. As they left, Maria Huerta (who by now had returned from the wake) called out to her husband: “Don’t worry, Ezequiel; if you don’t return to see us in this life we will see you in heaven.” In a deliberate act of petty cruelty, the police took not only the breadwinner of the family, but also the bread; they confiscated beans, corn, and rice from the family kitchen.
Sergeant Felipe Velazquez questioned Ezequiel Huerta about the whereabouts of his two brothers who were priests, and other acquaintances who were believed to be active in the Cristero movement. Huerta refused even to open his mouth in response, so he was beaten until he was thoroughly bloodied. “We are going to hang your brother Salvador by the thumbs; and you, if you don’t talk, we will hang you by your hind legs,” cried the sergeant furiously. In reply, Huerta began to sing with all the strength he could muster, booming out the hymn “My Christ lives, my King lives.” He was beaten again until he was unable to sing or even speak aloud. Two men carried him back to his cell and dropped him beside Bernal. Painfully, in a low voice, Huerta reported to his companion, “Nothing much happened.” Then he delivered a final request:
Listen, when they carry my body to my house tell Maria that in the purse under my belt I have a hundred pesos of gold; it is all that I have to give her.
After finishing high school, Salvador Huerta worked as a mechanic, as an explosives technician in the mines of Zacatecas, and as a locomotive repairman in Aguascalientes. He married Adelina Jimenez in 1907 and fathered twelve children who would remember him as a loving and self-sacrificing father and a devoted husband. The family moved to Guadalajara in order to be closer to Salvador’s parents, and Salvador Huerta opened an auto repair shop; he soon gained a reputation as the best mechanic in Guadalajara. Called the “Magician of Cars,” Huerta was well respected in the community. Eventually his business grew to include eight employees, and while he taught these workers mechanical skills, Huerta also taught them respect for the things of God. He himself made daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament and was a member of the Nocturnal Adoration Society. His children recall that he taught them piety more through his example than through his words.
On the same morning that his brother Ezequiel was arrested, Salvador Huerta was at work when the police came and told him to come to fix a car. He asked them to bring the car in to the shop, but when the police persisted, he serenely collected his tools and walked to the police station. Questioned there by the police chief about his connections with the Cristeros, Salvador Huerta also responded with silence. He was tortured and finally thrown in the same cell with his brother. While he was being questioned, agents searched through his house, finding some religious articles and a revolver which belonged to Salvador’s son. The butt of the gun was inscribed, “And the Word was made flesh and lived among us”; those words from the Gospel of St. John were commonly used among the Cristeros.
Early on the morning of April 3, two guards entered the cell where the Huerta brothers were imprisoned and ordered them out. In spite of their injuries, the two men arose and entered the police van to be carried to the cemetery of Mezquitan. As they were lined up against a wall there to be executed, Ezequiel turned to his brother and said, “We pardon them, right?” Then his beautiful voice was stilled by a volley of bullets. Salvador then said, “Brother, you are already a martyr.” Taking a candle in his hand, he held it in front of himself, telling his executioners, “I put this light on my chest so you won’t fail to hit my heart. I am ready to die for Christ.” The next volley drowned out his final words.
The Huerta families were not able to claim the men’s bodies because General Ferreira deliberately set a high price for their release. Therefore, the two martyrs were buried in a single grave.
Ready for a fiesta
Luis Magana Servin was born in Arandas, Jalisco. A quiet child, he had beautiful eyes; a local painter chose him as the model for a painting of the Christ child, which still hangs in the Arandas parish church.
Luis became his father’s “right hand man” in the family business, a tannery. As a young man, he studied the encyclical Rerum Novarum, and committed himself to practicing social justice through humane treatment and kindness toward the workers at his family’s plant. Former employees testify that Magana made no distinction between poor and rich; he treated everyone in the same friendly and respectful fashion. He was one of the founders of the ACJM in Arandas and was also a founder of the Nocturnal Adoration Society in Arandas in 1922. Magana was active in his parish, and used his organizational skills to form youth groups to help the poorest families. Co-workers and friends remember Magana as a good salesman, who was generous to his workers and to the poor. He married a young girl named Elvira in January of 1926, and from the beginning their marriage was a happy one. Their first child, Gilberto, was born in April of 1927. Five months after her husband’s death, Elvira gave birth to a daughter whom she named Luisa in his memory.
Arandas remained peaceful during the turbulent years from 1910 to 1917, but during the Cristero conflict the town was one of the strongholds of the Catholic resistance. Many of the men joined in the fighting; the elderly, women, and children served as messengers and provisioners for the rebels. Luis Magana himself was a proponent of non-violence, but he gave the Cristiada his spiritual and material support, as did most of the Catholics of the area. Well aware of the dangers involved in such work, Luis collected and sent arms, food, and other necessities to the Cristeros.
Miguel Gomez Loza, the leader of the Cristeros and the civil governor of Jalisco, had established his headquarters on a ranch near Arandas in the middle of 1927, after government troops had burned down his former center of operations in Cerro Gordo. So the town became an ideological battleground, with the government determined to stem the growth of support for the rebels. In order to frighten the people, soldiers hanged the bodies of slain Cristeros in trees on a river bank south of town. Military authorities also demanded that the farmers bring their corn harvest to a designated collection center, in order to prevent them from sending food to aid the Cristeros. As the conflict intensified, authorities prepared a list of the people who were suspected of aiding the Cristeros, and the name of Luis Magana Servin appeared on that list.
On the morning of February 9, 1928, federal soldiers sent by General Martinez came to the Magana home to arrest Luis. Not finding him at home, they took his younger brother Delfino instead, telling Don Raymundo, his father, that if Luis did not turn himself in by the end of that very day, they would shoot Delfino. When Luis came home for lunch, he found his wife and parents in tears. They told him what had happened, and with his usual serenity he calmed them, saying he would go and speak with General Martinez to obtain Delfino’s release.
Luis then bathed, shaved, and dressed in a new suit. He ate lunch calmly with his pregnant wife and child. When he was finished, he knelt in front of his parents and asked for their blessing; then he hugged everyone, kissed his little son, and left the home.
As Magana walked down the street, a friend saw him and asked where he was going so dressed up. When Luis told him, he cautioned, “Don’t go, they will shoot you!” Then Magana, opening his arms and looking at the sky, replied, “What happiness! Within an hour I will be in the arms of God.”
Magana made his way to the military office and asked for General Martinez. He was immediately arrested and conducted to the hotel where the general was staying. When he entered the room, the general demanded, “Who are you?”
“My General, I am Luis Magana, whom you are looking for,” he said without a sign of uneasiness, looking the general directly in the face. “The one you have detained is my brother and he has not done anything. Now that you have me, turn him loose.”
General Martinez saw before him a brave man, dressed as if he was planning for a fiesta, calm and serene as if he were about to receive an award. Rising from his seat, he said, “Well, young man, we are going to see if you really are as valiant as you seem.” Then he ordered, “Let the other go, and shoot this one immediately on the patio of the church.”
Taken to the church, Luis refused the traditional blindfold and asked to speak. Two witnesses have testified to what he said:
I am neither a Cristero nor a rebel. But if you accuse me of being a Christian, that I am. You soldiers who are going to shoot me, I want to tell you that from this moment I pardon you and I promise you that on arriving in the presence of God, you are the first ones I will intercede for. Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Santa Maria de Guadalupe!
As the sound of the gunfire carried through the still air, the Magana family heard the reports, knowing in their hearts that it was their own martyr who had been executed.
The rebel organizer
Miguel Gomez Loma was born in Paredones (now El Refugio), near Tepatitlan, Jalisco. From his early years he showed a special talent for leadership. He was popular, respected and admired by his peers. He studied law in Guadalajara, planning to use his knowledge in order to defend the interests of Catholics. In Guadalajara he first came into contact with the most important Mexican Catholic leaders of his day. Gomez became a member of the ACJM in 1915, and in 1917 founded various smaller groups of workers and established a number of cooperatives. In 1919 he established a national congress of Catholic workers to unify industry workers, commercial employees, and agricultural laborers.
Gomez was jailed no fewer than 58 times for organizing protests against the government. He was often beaten, and several times he was at the point of being shot. During his stays in jail, he always remained serene and composed, leading his fellow prisoners in prayer and singing. In 1922, Gomez completed the final exam for a degree in jurisprudence, but for political reasons he was unable to obtain the governor’s signature. In December he married Maria Guadalupe Sanchez Barragan, and at his wedding breakfast one of his friends jokingly told Gomez that the first thing he should buy his wife was a lunch box, so that she could bring him his food when he was in jail.
The couple moved to Arandas, where Gomez opened an office and helped the local priest with legal matters. (In January of 1923, Miguel was present with a group of Arandas citizens at the mountain of Cubilete for the blessing of the first stone in a monument dedicated to Christ the King, which was the gift of the Vatican’s apostolic delegate in Mexico, Archbishop Ernesto Filippi. For that generous gift, Archbishop Filippi was rewarded by the government with immediate expulsion from Mexico.) The authorities in Arandas, learning that Gomez lacked the official certification for his professional work, expelled him from town. After three months of exile in Guanajuato, he returned to Guadalajara to be reunited with his family.
In 1924 Gomez became one of the leading organizers of the Union Popular in Guadalajara, protesting the actions of the government and organizing economic boycotts in an effort to put pressure on President Calles. Pope Pius XI awarded him the cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice as an outstanding defender of Mexican Catholicism. Ultimately the boycott strategy proved ineffective, and in December 1924 the Union Popular abandoned its non-violent posture and came out in support of armed conflict.
Gomez was assigned as the rebel chief of the zone of Los Altos de Jalisco. He traveled from one Cristero camp to the other, wherever he was needed. From his places of hiding, he maintained contact with Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, who was in Guadalajara coordinating the Cristero strategies. Gomez did not take up arms himself; rather, his mission was to encourage the combatants and to solicit the ecclesiastical authorities for chaplains to serve the spiritual needs of the rebel fighters. After the death of Maestro Cleto, Miguel was named as the chief leader of the Cristeros and their governor for Jalisco.
In March of 1928, Miguel was at a ranch near Atotonilco called El Lindero. His hiding place was discovered, and on March 21 a contingent of soldiers attacked and shot him there. His body was later taken to Guadalajara, where thousands gathered for his burial.
Martyrs of Tlaxcala
Tlaxcala - Land of Grace
In the history of the Church in Mexico, the province of Tlaxcala is highly regarded as a territory of great significance. In May of 1990, at Mexico City's shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, beatified three children of Tlaxcala, who had suffered martyrdom - Cristobalito, Antonio and Juan.
The three child martyrs of Tlaxcala: Cristobalito - Juan - Antonio, beatified by Pope John Paul II at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (May, 1990)
From a chronological vantage, these child martyrs (12 to 13 years old) were the first souls in the entire New World to be so sacrificed and sanctified. They were witnesses to and participants in the Spanish evangelization of all of the Americas. All three gave their lives for the Faith between 1527 and 1529, when they refused to recant their commitment to CHRIST. Cristobalito's pagan father, a tribal chief, had his son beaten with clubs and finally set on fire for his faith. Antonio and Juan were clubbed to death two years later.
Only 10 years after the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico City to Juan Diego (1531), she appeared in Tlaxcala to another Mexican named Juan Diego Bernardino. On this occasion, Mary brought the "second Juan Diego" to an unknown spring by a ravine of oak trees. As revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary, this fount of grace, still flowing abundantly, has extraordinary healing powers. Our Lady promised perfect health to those, who drank even the smallest drop of this miraculous water.
On the following day, the Blessed Virgin Mary burnt an image of her perfections into the trunk of an oak tree. This marvel left Juan Diego, the Franciscan friars, and the villagers in awe. Ever since, the Most Pure has been honored as Our Lady of Ocotlán, Our Lady of the Oak that Burned.
An exceptionally arresting Basilica honoring Our Lady of Ocotlán, and enshrining her beautiful "heaven-carved" image, towers over a hilltop above Tlaxcala City. Nearly 450 years of pilgrimages to Our Lady have witnessed countless wonders of God's grace through Mary's intercession!
This indescribable "image of my perfections" was mysteriously burnt into an oak tree in the Spring of 1541 by Our Lady of Ocotlán. She also brought forth a spring of water so powerful "one drop brings perfect health." Both sweet Mother Mary's statue and blessed well remain much revered in Tlaxcala.
Blessed Miguel Pro and the New Mexican Martyrs
Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, SJ is the martyr whose cause and whose story form the prototype for all the Catholics killed during the persecution of the Church in Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s. Although he was not the first priest to be killed, the publicity surrounding his death and the shocking photographs of his execution brought his case to the eyes of the world. Father Miguel Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
High spirits and happiness characterized the life of this modern martyr. His father was a mining engineer; his mother a pious and charitable housewife who loved and served the poor. Miguel grew up with a special affinity for the working class and the poor, which he retained all his life. He became a Jesuit novice at age 20 and was shortly thereafter exiled because of the Mexican revolution. With his fellow Jesuits, he traveled and studied in the United States, Spain, Nicaragua, and finally in Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered from severe stomach problems and when his health did not improve after three operations, he was allowed to return to his native Mexico. He spent the rest of his life in an underground ministry, obedient to his superiors. He was falsely accused, betrayed, imprisoned, and sentenced to death without any legal process. On the day of his death he forgave his executioners and died proclaiming the reign of Christ the King.
A group of 25 Mexican martyrs, also killed in hatred of the faith during the turbulent years from 1915 to 1937, were canonized in Rome in May of this year. While the circumstances of their martyrdom are varied, their stories fall into the same pattern as that of Blessed Miguel Pro.
Father Magallanes and his companions
Fathers Cristobal Magallanes Jara and Agustin Caloca were martyred together on May 25, 1927 at Colotitlan, Jalisco. Father Magallanes was accused of promoting the Cristero revolt, although he had preached and written against armed rebellion. While he was in jail, he told Father Caloca, “Cheer up, God loves the martyrs . . . one moment and we are in Heaven.” Father Caloca, responded, “We have lived for God and in him we die.” Before he was shot, Father Magallanes distributed his few possessions among his executioners and gave them absolution, saying:
Father David Galvan, a seminary teacher, was arrested while on his way to aid the victims of a confrontation in Guadalajara on January 30, 1915. Warned that he might be killed, he replied, “What greater glory is there than to die saving a soul?” He was executed by firing squad.
Father Luis Batiz, and the Catholic laymen David Roldan, Salvador Lara, and Manuel Moralez were killed August 15, 1926 at Chalchihuites, Zacatecas. The three laymen were officers of the Liga Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa. Father Batiz was accused of plotting an uprising. The four were offered their freedom if they recognized the legitimacy of President Calles’s anti-religious laws. All of them refused. Father Batiz asked the soldiers to free Morales, because he had children, but Morales told them, “I am dying for God, and God will care for my children.” He raised his hat as the soldiers fired. The others died crying out “ Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Santa Maria de Guadalupe!”
On January 17, 1927, Father Jenaro Sanchez, a pastor in Tecolotlan, Jalisco, was arrested and hanged from a mesquite tree. When the soldiers put the rope around his neck, he said, “My countrymen, you are going to hang me, but I pardon you, and my Father God also pardons you, and long live Christ the King!”
As a young priest Father Mateo Correa gave First Communion to Miguel Pro. In 1927, frail and elderly, he was taking the viaticum to a sick parishioner near Valparaiso when he was caught and accused of being in league with the Cristeros. Taken to Durango, he heard the confessions of some Cristeros awaiting execution. When the commander demanded to know what they had said, the brave confessor refused to answer, and he was shot.
On March 26, 1927, Father Julio Alvarez, pastor of Mechoacanejo, Jalisco, was arrested, tied to the saddle of a horse, and led away to Leon. On hearing his sentence, he said, “I know that you have to kill me because you are ordered to do so, but I am going to die innocent because I have done nothing wrong. My crime is to be a minister of God. I pardon you.” He crossed his arms and the soldiers fired, then threw his body onto a trash heap near the church.
While in prison in Cuernavaca, Father David Uribe wrote, “I declare that I am innocent of the things of which I am accused. . . . I pardon all my enemies and I beg pardon from any that I have offended.” On April 12th, 1927, he was shot in the back of the head near San Jose Vidal, Morelia.
On April 11, 1927, the pastor of Totolan, Jalisco, Father Sabas Reyes was arrested, beaten, and tortured, but he suffered with heroic patience. His hands and feet were burned, he was starved, left in the sun, and given nothing to drink. He was beaten until a number of his bones were broken and his skull was fractured. On April 13, he was taken to the cemetery and shot. Three or four times the rifles spoke; each time, Father Reyes raised his head and cried out “Viva Cristo Rey.”
Father Roman Adame, the parish priest of Nochistlan, Zacatecas, was denounced and arrested on April 18, 1927. He was forced to walk barefoot from Mexticacan to Yahualica, until a soldier offered his horse when he realized the elderly priest could not walk another step. For three days, Father Adame was kept tied to the columns in front of his jail, given neither food nor water. Although a ransom was paid, he was taken to the cemetery on April 21 and shot. One of the soldiers from the firing squad refused to take part in the execution; in punishment he himself was shot.
Father Jose Isabel Flores of Zapotlanejo, Jalisco, was denounced, arrested, and starved for three days. On June 21, 1927, he was taken to the cemetery and tortured by being hanged from a tree limb, then raised up and down three or four times. Finally he told his tormentors:
. . . But just let me say, if you received the sacraments from me, don’t cripple the hands that served you.
Father Jose Maria Robles was pastor of Tecolotlan, Guadalajara. He founded the congregation of sisters known as the Hermanas del Corazon de Jesus Sacramentado. In response to suggestions that he should leave his parish to avoid persecution, he said, “The shepherd can never abandon his sheep.” He was arrested and, in defiance of a legal stay of his execution, he was led on horseback to an oak tree where he prayed briefly, blessed the members of his parish, then pardoned and blessed his murderers. He kissed the rope, put it around his neck, and was hanged on June 26, 1927.
Father Miguel de la Mora, pastor at Colima, was on a trip with friends and stopped for breakfast when a woman asked him to officiate at her daughter’s wedding. Some government officials overheard the conversation, and arrested the group, taking them back to Colima. Advised of his sentence, Father Miguel calmly recited his rosary. He was shot August 7, 1927.
In October 1927, Father Rodrigo Aguilar, a priest in Union de Tula, Jalisco was betrayed and captured by government soldiers. He was taken to the main square of Ejutla where he blessed and forgave his executioners. One of the soldiers arrogantly asked, “Who lives?” telling him he would be spared if he would answer: “Long live the supreme government.” Instead, in a firm voice, the priest responded, “Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Furiously the soldier pulled on the rope to suspend the priest in mid-air. Then he lowered him and again asked, “Who lives?” Father Aguilar gave the same answer. When the same question and answer were repeated a third time, the soldier left the priest to hang until death.
During the height of the persecution, a bishop in the state of Guerrero could not find a priest willing to go to the parish of Atenango del Rio, because city officials had threatened to kill any priest who dared to go there. When he heard of that problem, Father Margarito Flores—a seminary professor and vicar of Chilapa, Guerrero—volunteered at once. On the way, he was caught and forced to walk to Tuliman in the blazing sun, half naked and barefoot. Serenely, Father Flores shared his last meal with his captors, then was taken behind the church where he blessed the soldiers and prayed as he was led forward. He was shot on November 12, 1924.
When he was advised to leave his parish, Father Pedro Esqueda of San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, responded “God put me here; He knows where I am.” November 18, 1927, he was captured by government troops at a private home. He was brutally tortured for four days, but suffered in silence. On November 22, he was led to a mesquite tree and ordered to climb it. Although he attempted to obey, he could not because his arm was broken. He was tortured again, then shot.
On February 5, 1928, the parish priest of Valtierilla, Michoican, Father Jesus Mendez had just celebrated Mass secretly when he heard fighting outside the house where he was staying. He left by a back window, taking the chalice under a tilma, but was stopped by a soldier who thought he was carrying arms. He quickly admitted he was priest. Taking his prisoner to the town plaza, the commanding officer attempted three times to kill him. On the first attempt the officer’s pistol misfired. So he ordered his soldiers to shoot the priest, but not a single shot hit Father Mendez (possibly because no one wanted to kill him). Finally, the soldiers removed the priest’s medals and cross, and on a third attempt they succeeded at least in wounding him; one of the soldiers then gave him the coup de grace. His body was thrown on the railroad tracks, but the wives of the town officials rescued and buried it.
Father Toribio Romo was assigned at Tequila, Jalisco where he lived in an abandoned factory. He prayed for courage, telling his sister, “I am cowardly, so if one day God wants me to be killed, I hope he will give me a rapid death, with only the time necessary to pray for my enemies.” In the early morning of February 25, 1928, government troops forced the local mailman to show them where the secret Masses were celebrated. They surprised Father Romo and shot him in his bed, stripped his body of clothing, and threw the naked corpse in front of the city hall.
Father Justino Orona, parish priest at Cuquio, Jalisco, wrote to a friend, “Those of us who walk the road of sorrows with fidelity can leave for heaven with a feeling of security.” On June 29, 1928, at a local ranch, he and his young vicar, Father Atiliano Cruz, recited the rosary and planned their hidden ministry. He asked Father Cruz if he was afraid of the soldiers, and the younger priest replied that he would greet them with the words, “Viva Cristo Rey.” At dawn on July 1, soldiers broke into the house where the two priests were sleeping. Father Cruz greeted them as he had promised, in a strong clear voice. Father Orona was killed immediately; Father Cruz was mortally wounded. Their bodies were thrown in the town plaza.
Father Tranquilino Ubiarco was arrested on October 5, 1928, while officiating at a wedding in a private home. As he was led to his execution, he asked who was commissioned to kill him. When all the soldiers remained silent, he said, “All of this is God’s will; the man who is made to kill me is not responsible.” One of the soldiers then confessed that he was the one who had been chosen, but he now felt that he could not carry out the assignment. Calmly, Father Ubiarco blessed all the soldiers. They hanged him from the branch of a eucalyptus tree at the entrance of town. Once again, the soldier in charge of the execution refused to carry out the order, so he was shot.
Because of the political unrest in Mexico, Father Pedro de Jesus Maldonado was ordained in El Paso, Texas. Returning home, he became pastor of Santa Isabel, Chihuahua. In the early 1930s, he was sent back to safety in Texas, but he begged to be allowed to return. A group of armed and drunken men arrested him at his house and made him walk barefoot to Santa Isabel. He recited his rosary along the way. He was beaten and hit on the head so hard that his left eye popped out. He had prayed for the grace of receiving final Communion. He had a consecrated host with him in a pyx, and when his murderers found it, one of them forced him to eat it saying, “Eat this, this is your last Communion!” He was then beaten until he was unconscious, then taken to the civil hospital where he died on February 11, 1937.
Holy Martyrs of Mexico (Mexican, 25 covert priests and persecuted laymen, martyred by anticlerical government between 1915 and 1937 [canonized May 21, 2000, during the Jubilee pilgrimage of Mexicans to Rome]) Viva Cristo Rey!]
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II
1. "Let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth" (1 Jn 3:18). This exhortation taken from the Apostle John in the second reading of this Mass invites us to imitate Christ and to live in close union with him. Jesus himself also told us this in the Gospel just proclaimed: "As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" (Jn 15:4).
Through profound union with Christ, begun in Baptism and nourished by prayer, the sacraments and the practice of the Gospel virtues, men and women of all times, as children of the Church, have reached the goal of holiness. They are saints because they put God at the centre of their lives and made seeking and extending his kingdom the purpose of their existence; saints because their deeds continue to speak of their total love for the Lord and for their brethren by bearing abundant fruits, thanks to their living faith in Jesus Christ and their commitment to loving as he loved us, including their enemies.
2. During the Jubilee pilgrimage of Mexicans, the Church rejoices in canonizing these children of Mexico: Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs, priests and laymen; José María de Yermo y Parres, priest and founder of the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
You Mexican pilgrims have come in great numbers, accompanied by a large group of Bishops, to take part in this solemn celebration honoring the memory of these illustrious children of the Church and of your homeland. I greet you all affectionately. The Church in Mexico rejoices at relying on these intercessors in heaven, models of supreme charity who followed in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. They all dedicated their lives to God and their brethren through martyrdom or by generously serving the needy. The firmness of their faith and hope sustained them in the various trials they had to endure. They are a precious legacy, a fruit of the faith rooted in the lands of Mexico, a faith which, at the dawn of the third millennium of Christianity, must be preserved and revitalized so that you may continue to be faithful to Christ and to his Church as you were in the past. Mexico ever faithful!
3. In the first reading we heard how Paul moved about Jerusalem, "preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him" (Acts 9: 28-29). Paul's mission prepares for the growth of the Church, which will take the Gospel message everywhere. And in this expansion, persecution and violence against those who preached the Good News were not lacking. But despite human adversities, the Church relies on the promise of divine help. This is why we heard that "the Church ... had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied" (Acts 9: 31).
We can well apply this passage from the Acts of the Apostles to the situation which Cristóbal Magallanes and his 24 companion martyrs had to endure in the first 30 years of the 20th century.
Most of them belonged to the secular clergy and three were laymen seriously committed to helping priests. They did not stop courageously exercising their ministry when religious persecution intensified in the beloved land of Mexico, unleashing hatred of the Catholic religion. They all freely and calmly accepted martyrdom as a witness to their faith, explicitly forgiving their persecutors. Faithful to God and to the Catholic faith so deeply rooted in the ecclesial communities which they served by also promoting their material well-being, today they are an example to the whole Church and to Mexican society in particular.
After the harsh trials that the Church endured in Mexico during those turbulent years, today Mexican Christians, encouraged by the witness of these witnesses to the faith, can live in peace and harmony, contributing the wealth of Gospel values to society. The Church grows and advances, since she is the crucible in which many priestly and religious vocations are born, where families are formed according to God's plan, and where young people, a substantial part of the Mexican population, can grow up with the hope of a better future. May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to make a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, which can continue to transform Mexican society so that justice, fraternity and harmony will prevail among all.
4. "This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us" (1 Jn 3:23). The command par excellence that Jesus gave to his disciples is to love one another fraternally as he has loved us (cf. Jn 15:12). In the second reading we heard, the command has a twofold aspect: to believe in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, confessing him at every moment, and to love one another because Christ himself has commanded us to do so. This command is so fundamental to the lives of believers that it becomes the prerequisite for the divine indwelling. Faith, hope and love lead to the existential acceptance of God as the sure path to holiness.
It could be said that this was the path taken by José María de Yermo y Parres, who lived his priestly commitment to Christ by following him with all his might, distinguishing himself at the same time by an essentially prayerful and contemplative attitude. In the Heart of Christ he found guidance for his spirituality and, in reflecting on his infinite love for men, he desired to imitate him by making charity the rule of his life.
The new saint founded the Religious Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor, a name which combines the two great loves that express the new saint's spirit and charism in the Church.
Dear daughters of St José María de Yermo y Parres, generously live your founder's rich heritage, beginning with fraternal communion in community and extending it in merciful love to your brothers and sisters with humility, simplicity, effectiveness and, above all, perfect union with God.
5. "Abide in me, and I in you.... He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15: 4, 5). In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus urged us to abide in him in order to unite all men and women with him. This invitation requires us to fulfill our baptismal commitment by living in his love, drawing inspiration from his Word, being nourished by the Eucharist, receiving his forgiveness and, when necessary, carrying the cross with him. Separation from God is the greatest tragedy a person can experience. The sap that flows to the branch makes it grow; the grace that comes to us through Christ makes us grow to adulthood so that we can bear fruits of eternal life.
St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, the first Mexican woman to be canonized, knew how to remain united to Christ during her long earthly life and thus she bore abundant fruits of eternal life. Her spirituality was marked by an exceptional Eucharistic piety, since it is clear that an excellent way to union with the Lord is to seek him, to adore him, to love him in the most holy mystery of his real presence in the Sacrament of the Altar.
She wanted to continue his work by founding the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who today in the Church follow her charism of charity to the poor and the sick. Indeed, the love of God is universal; it is meant for all human beings and for this reason the new saint understood that it was her duty to spread it, generously caring for everyone until the end of her days, even when her physical energy was declining and the heavy trials that she had to endure throughout her life had sapped her strength. Very faithful in her observance of the Constitutions, respectful to Bishops and priests, attentive to seminarians, St María de Jesús Sacramentado is an eloquent example of total dedication to the service of God and to suffering humanity.
6. This solemn celebration reminds us that faith involves a deep relationship with the Lord. The new saints teach us that the true followers and disciples of Jesus are those who do God's will and are united with him through faith and grace.
Listening to God's word, living one's life in harmony with it and giving priority to Christ configure a human being's life to him. "Abide in me and I in you" continues to be Jesus' invitation and must constantly echo in each of us and in our surroundings. St Paul, in accepting this call, could exclaim: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). May the Word of God proclaimed in this liturgy make our lives authentic by remaining existentially one with the Lord, loving not only in word, but in deed and in truth (cf. 1 Jn 3:18). Thus our life will truly be "through Christ, with him and in him".
We are celebrating the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. One of its aims is to "inspire in all the faithful a true longing for holiness" (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 42). May the example of these new saints, a gift of the Church in Mexico to the universal Church, spur all the faithful, using all the means within their reach and especially with the help of God's grace, to seek holiness with courage and determination.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom the martyrs prayed at the supreme moment of their sacrifice and to whom St José María de Yermo and St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas professed such tender devotion, accompany with her motherly protection the good intentions of all who honour the new saints today, and help those who follow their example. May she also guide and protect the Church so that, through her evangelizing activity and the Christian witness of all her children, she may light humanity's path in the third Christian millennium. Amen.
ST. ROMAN ADAME ROSALES
Also known as: Roman Adame; Romanus Adame
Memorial: 25 May
Profile: Ordained on 30 November 1890. Parish priest at Nochistlan, Zacatecas in 1913, a position he held until his death. Especially known for his ministry to the sick, and his devotion to Our Lady. Built chapels in the areas around Nochistlan. Founded the Daughters of Mary of Nocturnal Adoration. When government persecutions of religion began, he took his ministery underground.
On 18 April 1927 he conducted a Lenten service at Rancho Veladones. One of the people at the service betrayed him to one Colonel Quinones, and Father Roman was arrested the next day. Jailed at Mexticacan, then forced to walk miles to the parish at Yhualica. Quinones had commandeered the rectory; he kept Adame tied to an outdoor post during the day, threw him into a cell at night, and neglected to give him food or water. Some local lay people offered to buy the priest's freedom; Quinones demanded a $6,000 bribe, pocketed the money, and ordered Father Roman executed anyway. One of the soldiers, Antonio Carillo, refused to shoot Adame; the other soldiers shot him, too. Martyr.
También conocido como - Adame Romano; Romanus Adame
Conmemorativo - el 25 de mayo
Perfil - Ordained el 30 de noviembre de 1890 . Sacerdote de la parroquia en Nochistlan, Zacatecas en 1913 , una posición que él llevó a cabo hasta su muerte. Sabido especialmente para el su ministerio al enfermo , y su dedicación a nuestra señora . Capillas construidas en las áreas alrededor de Nochistlan. Fundó a hijas de Maria de la adoración de Nocturnal . Cuando las persecuciones del gobierno de la religión comenzaron, él tomó su subterráneo del ministery.
El 18 de abril de 1927 él condujo un servicio de Lenten en el rancho Veladones. Uno de la gente en el servicio lo traicionó a un coronel Quinones, y el padre romano era arrestado el día siguiente. Encarcelado en Mexticacan, entonces forzado para caminar millas a la parroquia en Yhualica. Las quinonas habían requisado la rectoría; él mantuvo Adame atado a un poste al aire libre durante el día, lo lanzó en una célula en la noche, y lo descuidó darle el alimento o el agua. Alguna gente local de la endecha ofreció comprar libertad de s al sacerdote '; Las quinonas exigieron un soborno $6.000, pocketed el dinero, y romano pedida del padre ejecutado de todos modos. Uno de los soldados , Antonio Carillo, rechazado para tirar a Adame; los otros soldados le tiraron, también. Martyr .
ST. CRISTÓBAL MAGALLANES JARA
Memorial: 25 May
Profile: Born to a farm family, and worked as a shepherd in his youth. Entered the seminary at 19. Parish priest at Totatiche, Mexico. Helped found schools, a newspaper, catechism centers for children and adults, carpentry shops, and an electric plant to power the mills. Worked with the indigenous people to form agrarian cooperatives with the town's people. Noted for his devotion to Our Lady.
When the anti-Church government closed all seminaries, Father Cristobal gathered displaced seminarians, and started his own seminary; it was quickly suppressed. He formed another, and another, and when they were all closed, the seminarians conducted classes in private homes.
He wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsley accused of promoting the Cristero guerilla revolt. Arrested on 21 May 1927 while en route to celebrate Mass at a farm. Gave away his few remaining possessions to his executioners, gave them absolution, and without a trial, he was martyred with Saint Agustin Caloca.
I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serves toward the peace of our divided Mexico.
Conmemorativo - el 25 de mayo
Perfil - Llevado a una familia de la granja, y trabajado como pastor en su juventud. Entró en el seminary en 19. Sacerdote en Totatiche, México de la parroquia . Las escuelas encontradas ayudadas , un periódico , catechism se centran para que los niños y los adultos, las tiendas de la carpintería, y una planta eléctrica accionen los molinos. Trabajado con la gente indígena a las cooperativas agrarias de la forma con la gente de ciudad. Observado para su dedicación a nuestra señora .
Cuando contra - el gobierno de la iglesia cerró todos los seminaries, engendra a seminaristas desplazados recolectados Cristobal , y comenzó su propio seminary; fue suprimido rápidamente. Él formó otro, y otro, y cuando todos fueron cerrados, los seminaristas condujeron clases en hogares privados.
Él escribió y predicó contra la rebelión armada, pero era falsley acusado de promover la rebelión del guerrilla de Cristero. Arrestado el 21 de mayo 1927 mientras que en el camino para celebrar la masa en una granja. Dio lejos sus pocas posesiones restantes a sus executioners, les dio la absolución , y sin un ensayo, él estaba martyred con Santo Agustin Caloca .
Llevado - 1869
Lecturas - Soy inocente y muero inocente. Perdono con todo mi corazón ésos responsables de mi muerte, y pregunto a dios que el vertimiento de mi sangre sirve hacia la paz de nuestro México dividido.
ST. RODRIGO AGUILAR ALEMAN
Knight of Columbus
(Parish priest, poet, hanged in 1927)
Memorial: 25 May
Profile: Fr. Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán was born on 13 March 1875 in Sayula, Jalisco. It was an ugly scene. Soldiers hung a rope from a mango tree in the town square and wrapped a noose around a neck that normally would have been encircled by a Roman collar.
The soldiers gave Father Rodrigo under the mango tree several chances to recant, asking each time they lowered him to the ground, “Who lives?” “Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!" was the constant response. Fr. Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán, who had readily identified himself as a priest when he was captured hours before, died when the rope was pulled ut for the third time, on 28 October 1927.
Born: March 13, 1875
Died: October 28, 1927
Nació en Sayula, Jal. (Diócesis de Ciudad Guzmán), el 13 de marzo de 1875. Párroco de Unión de Tula, Jal. (Diócesis de Autlán). Sacerdote poeta de fina sensibilidad. Consagró su sacerdocio a la Virgen Santísima de Guadalupe. Con todo su corazón imploró: «Señor, danos la gracia de padecer en tu nombre, de sellar nuestra fe con nuestra sangre y coronar nuestro sacerdocio con el martirio ¡Fiat voluntas tua!» Por eso, cuando tuvo que abandonar su parroquia y ocultarse en la población de Ejutla, Jal., y cuando llegaron las tropas federales para apresarlo, su rostro resplandecía de paz y gozo, y se despidió diciendo: «Nos vemos en el cielo». En la madrugada del 28 de octubre de 1927 fue conducido a la plaza de Ejutla. Arrojaron la cuerda a una rama gruesa de un árbol de mango, hicieron una lanzada y la colocaron al cuello del sacerdote. Luego quisieron poner a prueba su fortaleza y con altanería le preguntaron: «¿Quién vive?» La valiente respuesta fue: «¡Cristo Rey y Santa María de Guadalupe!» Entonces la cuerda fue tirada con fuerza y el señor cura Aguilar quedó suspendido. Se le bajó de nuevo y se le repitió la pregunta: «¿Quién vive?» Por segunda vez dijo con voz firme: «¡Cristo Rey y Santa María de Guadalupe!» Nuevamente al mismo suplicio y por tercera vez, el «¿Quién vive?» El mártir agonizante, arrastrando la lengua repitió: «Cristo Rey y Santa María de Guadalupe».
ST. JULIO ÁLVAREZ MENDOZA
(Priest, shot to death in 1927)
Also known as: Julio Alvarez
Memorial: 25 May
Profile: Ordained in 1894, he worked his entire ministry at Mechoacanejo, Jalisco, Mexico. Visited the area ranches, going to people who would not come to the church. Great devotion to the Eucharist. When the Church was suppresed by the state, he conducted Mass on farms and baptized in mountain streams. Arrested on 26 March 1927 for the crime of priesthood. He was tied to a saddle and dragged several days to Leon where General Amaro sentenced him to death. Martyr.
My crime is to be a minister of God. I pardon you. -Saint Julio just before executed
Nació en Guadalajara, Jal. el 20 de diciembre de 1866. Párrocode Mechoacanejo, Jal. (Diócesis de Aguascalientes), lugar donde pasó toda su vida sacerdotal. Párroco cariñoso, padre y amigo de los niños, pobre que vivió entre los pobres, sacerdote sencillo. Enseñó trabajos de artesanía para que pudieran superarse sus feligreses. Había aprendido el oficio de sastre y le sirvió para hacer ropa a los más necesitados. Amó filialmente a la Santísima Virgen de Guadalupe. Entregado a su ministerio de cura rural, camino de un rancho, fue reconocido como sacerdote y apresado por miembros del ejército. Allí inició su camino hacia el martirio: fue llevado en medio de mil incomodidades a Villa Hidalgo, Jal., a Aguascalientes, Ags., a León, Gto., y por último a San Julián, Jal. El 30 de marzo de 1927 fue colocado sobre un montón de basura para ser fusilado y dijo suavemente: «Voy a morir inocente. No he hecho ningún mal. Mi delito es ser ministro de Dios. Yo les perdono a ustedes». Cruzó los brazos y esperó la descarga.
ST. LUIS BATIS SAINZ
Knight of Columbus
(Parish priest, seminary's spiritual director, shot by firing squad in 1926)
Fr. Luis Batis Sainz was born on 13 September 1870 in San Miguel Mezquital, Zacatecas. He was shot on 15 August 1926.
Nació en San Miguel del Mezquital, Zac. (Arquidiócesis de Durango), el 13 de septiembre de 1870. Párroco de San Pedro Chalchihuites, Zac. (Arquidiócesis de Durango). Celoso sacerdote en todos sus ministerios, tuvo especial dedicación a los jóvenes. Fue para ellos un guía y padre bondadoso que de diversas formas les hacía crecer espiritual y culturalmente, y les ayudaba a superarse hasta en lo material. Especialmente supo infundir en la juventud el espíritu de heroísmo cristiano para profesar su fe. Apenas habían pasado quince días de la suspensión del culto público ordenado por los Obispos, fue tomado prisonero. Al comunicarlevque los soldados lo buscaban, dijo:«¡Que se haga la voluntad de Dios, si Él quiere, yo seré uno de los mártires de la Iglesia!» Y al día siguiente, 15 de agosto de 1926, fue conducido junto con sus más cercanos colaboradores en el apostolado: Manuel Morales, Salvador Lara Puente y David Roldán, al lugar conocido como “Puerto de Santa Teresa”. El Sr. Cura Batis y Manuel Morales fueron llevados fuera de la carretera para ser fusilados; entonces el sacerdote intercedió por su compañero recordándoles a los verdugos, que Manuel tenía esposa e hijos. Todo fue inútil y el párroco, con su característica sonrisa bondadosa, absolvió a su compañero y le dijo: «Hasta el cielo». Pocos segundos después se consumaba su martirio en el día de la fiesta de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen.
ST. AGUSTÍN CALOCA CORTÉS — Incorrupt Heart of St. Agustín Caloca
(Priest, seminary prefect, shot to death in 1927)
Fr. Agustín Caloca Cortés was born on 5 May 1898 in Teúl, Zacatecas. He suffered martyrdom on 25 May 1927.
Nació en San Juan Bautista del Teúl, Zac. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara), el 5 de mayo de 1898. Ministro en la parroquia de Totatiche y Prefecto del Seminario Auxiliar establecido en la misma población, para quienes fue un modelo de pureza sacerdotal. Fue hecho prisionero después de ayudar a escapar a los seminaristas y conducido a la misma prisión en donde se encontraba su párroco el Sr. Cura Magallanes. Un militar, en atención a su juventud, le ofreció la libertad, pero no aceptó si no la concedían también al señor Cura. Frente al pelotón encargado de su ejecución, la actitud y las palabras de su párroco lo llenaron de fortaleza y pudo exclamar: «Por Dios vivimos y por Él morimos». Sufrió el martirio el 25 de mayo de 1927 en Colotlán, Jalisco (Diócesis de Zacatecas, Zac.). Frente al verdugo tuvo la fuerza de confortar a su ministro y compañero de martirio, que lo consoló, diciéndole: «Reanímate, Dios quiere mártires; un momento, Padre, y estaremos en el cielo». Después volviéndose a las tropas exclamó: «Soy y muero inocente y pido a Dios que mi sangre sirva para la paz de mexicanos desunidos».
ST. MATEO CORREA MAGALLANES
Knight of Columbus
(Parish priest, gave First Communion to Bl. Miguel Pro, shot to death in 1927)
Fr. Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born on 30 July 1869 in Totatiche, Jalisco. Saying: "I pray to God that my blood serves the unity of my Mexican brethren", he was shot on 25 May 1927.
Nació en Tepechitlán, Zac. (Diócesis de Zacatecas), el 23 de julio de 1866. Párroco de Valparaíso, Zac., (Diócesis de Zacatecas). El Padre Mateo cumplió fielmente las obligaciones de su sacerdocio: evangelizar y servir a los más pobres, obedecer a su obispo, unirse a Cristo Sacerdote y Víctima, especialmente al convertirse en mártir a causa del sello sacramental. Fue perseguido continuamente y hecho prisionero varias veces, la última vez fue cuando iba a auxiliar a una persona enferma. Lo detuvieron algunos días en Fresnillo, Zac., y fue llevado después a Durango. Allí le pidió el general que confesara a unos presos y después le exigió que le revelara lo que había sabido en confesión, o de lo contrario le mataría. El señor Cura Correa respondió con dignidad: «Puede usted hacerlo, pero no ignore que un sacerdote debe guardar el secreto de la confesión. Estoy dispuesto a morir». Fue fusilado en el campo, a las afueras de la ciudad de Durango, el 6 de febrero de 1927 y así inició su verdadera vida aquel párroco abnegado y bondadoso.
ST. ATILANO CRUZ ALVARADO
(Parish priest, shot to death in 1928)
Fr. Atilano Cruz Alvarado was born on 5 October 1901 in Ahuetita de Abajo, Jalisco. He gave his life for Christ at the Las Cruces ranch on 1 July 1928.
Nació en Ahuetita de Abajo, perteneciente a la parroquia de Teocaltiche, Jal. (Diócesis de Aguascalientes), el 5 de octubre de 1901. Ministro de la parroquia de Cuquío, Jal. Se ordenó sacerdote cuando esto se consideraba como el mayor crimen que podía cometer un mexicano. Pero él, con una alegría que le desbordaba extendió sus manos para que fueran consagradas bajo el cielo azul de una barranca jalisciense donde se escondía el Arzobispo y el Seminario. Once meses después, el pacífico y alegre sacerdote, mientras ejercía a salto de mata su ministerio, fue llamado por su párroco el Sr. Cura Justino Orona. Obediente se encaminó al rancho de “Las Cruces”, lugar que sería su calvario. Poco antes había escrito: «Nuestro Señor Jesucristo nos invita a que lo acompañemos enla pasión». Mientras dormía llegaron las fuerzas militares y la autoridad civil. El padre Atilano, al oír la descarga que cortó la vida de su párroco, se arrodilló en la cama y esperó el momento de su sacrificio. Allí fue acribillado, dando testimonio de su fidelidad a Cristo Sacerdote, la madrugada del 1° de julio de 1928.
ST. MIGUEL DE LA MORA DE LA MORA
Knight of Columbus
(Priest, shot by firing squad in 1927)
Fr. Miguel de la Mora was born on 19 June 1878 in Tecalitlán, Jalisco. He was shot while praying the Rosary on 7 August 1927.
Nació en Tecalitlán, Jal. (Diócesis de Colima), el 19 de junio de 1878. Capellán de la Catedral de Colima, sacerdote sencillo, discreto, ordenado y puntual, siempre se mostró lleno de caridad para con los pobres y dispuesto a servir. Colima fue el primer estado de la República Mexicana en que el gobierno exigió la inscripción de los sacerdotes para otorgarles licencias de ejercer. El Obispo y sus sacerdotes protestaron afirmando que sufrirían todo antes que ser traidores a su fe y de su fidelidad a la Iglesia. La respuesta del gobierno fue procesar y desterrar a todos los sacerdotes. El Padre Miguel, como algunos otros, se ocultó para continuar prestando ayuda a los fieles. Fue descubierto y amenazado de cárcel definitiva si no abría el culto en la Catedral, contra lo dispuesto por el Obispo. Ante la presión del gobierno militar prefirió salir de la ciudad. En el camino fue apresado y llevado ante el general, quien lo condenó a ser pasado por las armas. Caminó en silencio hasta donde le indicaron y como proclamación de su fe y de su amor a María Santísima sacó su rosario, empezó a rezarlo, y con él en la mano, cayó abatido por las balas. Eran las doce del día 7 de agosto de 1927.
ST. PEDRO ESQUEDA RAMÍREZ
(Parish priest, catechist of children, shot to death in 1927)
Fr. Pedro Esqueda Ramírez was born on 29 April 1887 in San Juan de Los Lagos, Jalisco. He was shot on 22 November 1927.
Nació en San Juan de los Lagos, Jal. (Diócesis de San Juan de los Lagos), el 29 de abril de 1887. Vicario de San Juan de los Lagos. El ministerio al que se dedicó con verdadera pasión fue la catequesis de los niños. Fundó varios centros de estudio y una escuela para la formación de catequistas. Siempre fue muy devoto del Santísimo. En plena persecución organizaba a las familias para que no faltaran a la guardia perpetua a Jesús Sacramentado en casas particulares. Desde el momento de ser apresado fue tan duramente golpeado, que se le abrió una herida en la cara. Un militar, después de golpearlo, le dijo: «Ahora ya has de estar arrepentido de ser cura»; a lo que contestó dulcemente el padre Pedro: «No, ni un momento, y poco me falta para ver el cielo». El 22 de noviembre de 1927 fue sacado de su prisión para ser ejecutado; los niños le rodearon y el Padre Esqueda insistentemente le repitió a un pequeño que caminaba junto a él: «No dejes de estudiar el catecismo, ni dejes la doctrina cristiana para nada». Y en un pedazo de papel escribió sus últimas recomendaciones para las catequistas. Al llegar a las afueras del poblado de Teocaltitlán, Jal., le dispararon tres balas que cambiaron su vida terrena por la eterna.
ST. MARGARITO FLORES GARCÍA
(Parish priest, shot to death in 1927)
Fr. Margarito Flores García was born on 22 February 1899 in Taxco, Guerrero. He was shot on 12 November 1927.
Nació en Taxco, Gro. (Diócesis de Chilapa), el 22 de febrero del 1899. Párroco de Atenango del Río, Gro., (Diócesis de Chilapa). Tres años de ministerio fueron suficientes para conocer la entrega sacerdotal del Padre Margarito. Se encontraba fuera de la Diócesis a causa de la persecución, cuando supo de la muerte heroica del Sr. Cura David Uribe, exclamó: «Me hierve el alma, yo también me voy a dar la vida por Cristo; voy a pedir permiso al Superior y también voy a emprender el vuelo al martirio». El Vicario general de la Diócesis le nombró vicario con funciones de párroco de Atenango del Rio, Gro. El Padre Margarito se puso luego en camino. Fue descubierto como sacerdote al llegar a su destino; apresado y conducido a Tulimán, Gro., donde se dio la orden de fusilarlo. El Padre Margarito pidió permiso para orar, se arrodilló unos momentos, besó el suelo y luego, de pie, recibió las balas que le destrozaron la cabeza y le unieron para siempre a Cristo Sacerdote, el 12 de noviembre de 1927.
ST. JOSÉ ISABEL FLORES VARELA
(Parish priest, tortured, throat cut in 1927)
Fr José Isabel Flores Varela was born on 20 November 1866 in Santa María de la Paz, Jalisco. He was beheaded on 21 June 1927.
Nació en Santa María de la Paz, de la parroquia de San Juan Bautista del Teúl, Zac. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara), el 28 de noviembre de 1866. Capellán de Matatlán, de la parroquia de Zapotlanejo, Jal. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara). Por 26 años derramó la caridad de su ministerio en esa capellanía, siendo para todos un padre bondadoso y abnegado que los edificó con su pobreza, su espíritu de sacrificio, su piedad y su sabiduría. Un antiguo compañero, a quien el Padre Flores había protegido, lo denunció ante el cacique de Zapotlanejo y fue apresado el 18 de junio de 1927, cuando se encaminaba a una ranchería para celebrar la Eucaristía. Fue encerrado en un lugar degradante, atado y maltratado; el cacique le hizo escuchar música al mismo tiempo que le ofrecía: «Oye, qué bonita música, si afirmas acatando las leyes, te dejo en libertad». Sin alterarse, el mártir le expresó: «Yo voy a oír una música mejor en el cielo». El Padre José Isabel cumplía la palabra expresada varias veces: «Antes morir que fallarle a Dios». El 21 de junio de 1927 fue conducido, en la noche, al camposanto de Zapotlanejo. Intentaron ahorcarlo pero no pudieron. Ordenó el jefe que le dispararan, pero el soldado, que reconoció al sacerdote que lo había bautizado, se negó a hacerlo, entonces enfurecido el verdugo asesinó al soldado. Misteriosamente las armas no hicieron fuego contra el Padre Flores por lo que uno de aquellos asesinos sacó un gran cuchillo y degolló al valeroso mártir.
ST. DAVID GALVÁN BERMUDES
(Priest, seminary instructor, shot by firing squad in 1915)
Fr. David Galván Bermúdez was born on 29 January 1881 in Guadalajara, Jalisco. After pointing to his chest to show the executioners where to shoot, he died on 30 January 1915.
Nació en Guadalajara, Jal., el 29 de enero de 1881. Profesor del Seminario de Guadalajara. Su gran caridad para con los pobres y los trabajadores le hizo organizar y ayudar al gremio de zapateros, oficio que ejerció al lado de su padre. Defensor de la santidad del matrimonio, ayudó a una jovencita perseguida por un militar, quien ya casado pretendía contraer matrimonio con ella. Esto acarreó al padre Galván la enemistad del teniente que, al final, se convirtió en su verdugo. El 30 de enero de 1915, por auxiliar espiritualmente a los soldados heridos en un combate efectuado en Guadalajara, fue tomado prisionero. En espera de la ejecución su compañero de prisión le comentó que no había desayunado, y el padre Galván tranquilamente le dijo: «Hoy vamos a ir a comer con Dios». Y, frente a los encargados de ejecutarlo, se señaló serenamente el pecho para recibir las balas.
ST. SALVADOR LARA PUENTE
Knight of Columbus
(Layman, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death at age 21 in 1926)
Salvador Lara Puente was born on 13 August 1905 in Berlin, Durango. An active member of Catholic Action, he was executed with Fr Batis and Manuel Morales on 15 August 1926.
Nació en el poblado de Berlín, Dgo., perteneciente a la parroquia de Súchil (Arquidiócesis de Durango) el 13 de agosto de 1905. En plena juventud Salvador era alto y fuerte de cuerpo, aficionado a practicar el deporte de la charrería; educado y fino en el trato con todos, respetuoso y cariñoso con su madre viuda; íntegro y responsable como empleado en una empresa minera. Vivía su fe en la pureza de sus costumbres y en la entrega al apostolado como militante de la Acción Católica de la Juventud Mexicana. Cuando llegaron los soldados para apresarlo, junto con Manuel y David, respondió al ser llamado: «Aquí estoy». Caminó sonriente, como siempre, junto a su compañero y primo David hasta el lugar que les señalaron para ser fusilados. Acababan de darse cuenta del fusilamiento de su párroco, el Sr. Cura Batis y de su amigo Manuel Morales. Orando en voz baja, Salvador recibió la descarga que abrió las heridas para que brotara su sangre de mártir y se descubriera su grandeza de cristiano, el 15 de agosto de 1926.
ST. PEDRO DE JESÚS MALDONADO LUCERO
Knight of Columbus
(parish priest, promoter of nocturnal adoracion, blinded and beaten to death in 1937)
Fr. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero was born on 15 June 1892 in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. He died on 11 February 1937.
Nació en la ciudad de Chihuahua, Chih. (Arquidiócesis de Chihuahua), el 15 de junio de 1892. Párroco de Santa Isabel, Chih. Su propósito de seminarista: «He pensado tener mi corazón siempre en el cielo, en el sagrario» se convirtió en el ideal de su vida y fuente de toda su actividad sacerdotal. Sacerdote enamorado de Jesús Sacramentado, fue un continuo adorador y fundador de muchos turnos de adoración nocturna entre los feligreses a él confiados. El 10 de febrero de 1937, miércoles de ceniza, celebró la Eucaristía, impartió la ceniza y se dedicó a confesar. De pronto se presentó un grupo de hombres armados para apresarlo. El Padre Pedro tomó un relicario con hostias consagradas y siguió a sus perseguidores. Al llegar a la presidencia municipal, políticos y policías le insultaron y le golpearon. Un pistoletazo dado en la frente le fracturó el cráneo y le hizo saltar el ojo izquierdo. El sacerdote bañado en sangre, cayó casi inconsciente; el relicario se abrió y se cayeron las hostias. Uno de los verdugos las recogió y con cinismo se las dio al sacerdote diciéndole: «Cómete esto». Por manos de su verdugo se cumplió su anhelo de recibir a Jesús Sacramentado antes de morir. En estado agónico fue trasladado a un hospital público de Chihuahua y al día siguiente, 11 de febrero de 1937, aniversario de su ordenación sacerdotal, consumió su glorioso sacrificio el sacerdote mártir.
ST. JESÚS MÉNDEZ MONTOYA
(parish priest, shot to death in 1928
Fr. Jesús Méndez Montoya was born on 10 June 1880 in Tarimbaro, Michoacán. He was shot on 5 February 1928.
Nació en Tarímbaro, Mich. (Arquidiócesis de Morelia), el 10 de junio de 1880. Vicario de Valtierrilla, Gto. (Arquidiócesis de Morelia). Sacerdote que supo hacerse todo a todos no escatimó medios para intensificar la vida cristiana entre sus feligreses. Se sujetó a largas horas de confesionario de donde salían los cristianos convertidos o con anhelos de mayor perfección debido a sus prudentes consejos. Convivía con las familias pobres, era un catequista y guía para los obreros y campesinos; y un asiduo maestro de música que formó un buen coro para las celebraciones. El 5 de febrero de 1928 entraron las fuerzas federales para sofocar un pequeño grupo de cristeros y se dirigieron luego a la casa donde se ocultaba el Padre Jesús, quien trató de salvar un copón con hostias consagradas. Descubierto por los soldados, les pidió un momento para consumir el Santísimo Sacramento y le fue concedido. Después, con dulzura, se dirigió a una de sus hermanas y le dijo: «Es la voluntad de Dios. Que se haga su voluntad». Los soldados le llevaron a unos metros fuera del atrio del templo y lo sacrificaron con tres disparos. El sacerdote que aprovechó sus conocimientos humanos y su ciencia de Dios para hacer amar a Jesucristo, con su sangre proclamó su gran amor aCristo Rey.
ST. MANUEL MORALES
Knight of Columbus
(layman, father of three, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death in 1926)
Manuel Morales was born on 8 February 1898 in Mesillas, Zacatecas. A faithful husband and the father of three children, he tried to intercede for the release of Fr Balls, but was killed as well on 15 August 1926.
Nació en Mesillas, Zac., perteneciente a la parroquia de Sombrerete, Zac. (Arquidiócesis de Durango), el día 8 de febrero de 1898. Cristiano de una pieza, esposo fiel, padre cariñoso con sus tres pequeños hijos, trabajador cumplido, laico comprometido en el apostolado de su parroquia y de intensa vida espiritual alimentada con la Eucaristía. Miembro de la Acción Católica de la Juventud Mexicana y presidente de la Liga Nacional Defensora de la Libertad Religiosa, asociación que por medios pacíficos trataba de obtener la derogación de las leyes impías. El día 15 de agosto de 1926, al conocer la prisión del Sr. Cura Batis se movilizó para ir a pedir la libertad de su párroco. Apenas había reunido un grupo de jóvenes para deliberar, cuando la tropa se presentó y el jefe gritó: «¡Manuel Morales!». Manuel dio un paso adelante y con mucho garbo se presentó: «Yo soy. A sus órdenes». Lo insultaron y comenzaron a golpearlo con saña. Junto con el Sr. Cura fue conducido fuera de la ciudad, y al escuchar que su párroco pedía que le perdonaran la vida en atención a su familia, lleno de valor y de fe le dijo: «Señor Cura, yo muero, pero Dios no muere. El cuidará de mi esposa y de mis hijos». Luego se irguió y exclamó: «¡Viva Cristo Rey y la Virgen de Guadalupe!». Y el testimonio de su vida quedó firmado con su sangre de mártir.
ST. JUSTINO ORONA MADRIGAL
(parish priest, founded Poor Clare Sisters of the Sacred Heart, shot to death in 1928)
Fr. Justino Orona Madrigal was born on 14 April 1877 in Atoyac, Jalisco. Greeting his executioners with "Long live Christ the King!", he was killed by a shower of bullets on 1 July 1928.
Nació en Atoyac, Jal. (Diócesis de Ciudad Guzmán), el 14 de abril de 1877. Párroco de Cuquío, Jal. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara). Fundador de la Congregación religiosa de las Hermanas Clarisas del Sagrado Corazón. Su vida estuvo marcada por la cruz pero siempre se conservó amable y generoso. En cierta ocasión escribió: «Los que siguen el camino del dolor con fidelidad, pueden subir al cielo con seguridad». Cuando arreció la persecución, permaneció entre sus feligreses diciendo: «Yo entre los míos vivo o muero». Una noche, después de planear con su vicario y compañero de martirio, el padre Atilano Cruz, su especial actividad pastoral, ejercida en medio de incontables peligros, ambos sacerdotes se recogieron para descansar en una casa de rancho de “Las Cruces” cercano a Cuquío. En la madrugada del 1° de julio de 1928 las fuerzas federales y el presidente municipal de Cuquío irrumpieron violentamente en el rancho y golpearon la puerta donde dormían el párroco y su vicario. El Sr. Cura Orona abrió y con fuerte voz saludó a los verdugos:«¡Viva Cristo Rey!» La respuesta fue una lluvia de balas.
ST. SABAS REYES SALAZAR
(Parish priest, tortured and shot to death in 1927)
Fr. Sabás Reyes Salazar was born on 5 December 1883 in Cocula, Jalisco. After three days of torture he was shot on 13 April 1927, exclaiming: "Long live Christ the King!".
Nació en Cocula, Jal. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara), el 5 de diciembre de 1883. Vicario de Tototlán, Jal. (Diócesis de San Juan de los Lagos). Sencillo y fervoroso, tenía especial devoción a la Santísima Trinidad. También invocaba frecuentemente a las ánimas del purgatorio. Procuró mucho la formación de los niños jóvenes, tanto en la catequesis como en la enseñanza de ciencias, oficios y artes, especialmente en la música. Cumplido y abnegado en su ministerio. Exigía mucho respeto en todo lo referente al culto y le gustaba que con prontitud se cumpliera cualquier deber. Cuando, por el peligro que había para los sacerdotes, le aconsejaban que saliera de Tototlán, él replicaba: «A mí aquí me dejaron y aquí espero, a ver qué dispone Dios». En la Semana Santa de 1927 llegaron las tropas federales y los agraristas buscando al Sr. Cura Francisco Vizcarra y a sus ministros. Sólo encontraron al padre Reyes y en él concentraron todo su odio. Lo tomaron preso, lo ataron fuertemente a una columna del templo parroquial, lo torturaron tres días por medio del hambre y la sed y con sadismo incalificable, le quemaron las manos porque estaban consagradas. El 13 de abril de 1927, Miércoles Santo, fue conducido al cementerio. Lo remataron a balazos, pero antes de morir, más con el alma que con la voz, pudo gritar el sacerdote mártir: «¡Viva Cristo Rey!».
ST. JOSÉ MARÍA ROBLES HURTADO
Knight of Columbus
(parish priest, founded women's Congregation of Victims of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, hanged in 1927)
Fr. José Maria Robles Hurtado was born on 3 May 1888 in Mascota, Jalisco. He was hanged from an oak tree on 26 June 1927.
Nació en Mascota, Jal. (Diócesis de Tepic), el 3 de mayo de 1888. Párroco de Tecolotlán, Jal. y fundador de la Congregación religiosa Hermanas del Corazón de Jesús Sacramentado. Ferviente apóstol de la devoción al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, escribió pequeñas obras para propagarla. Poco antes de ser ejecutado, escribió en una poesía sus últimos anhelos.
Quiero amar tu Corazón, Jesús mío, con delirio; quiero amarle con pasión, quiero amarle hasta el martirio. Con el alma te bendigo, mi Sagrado Corazón; Dime: ¿Se llega al instante de feliz y eterna unión?.
En la sierra de Quila, Jal. (Diócesis de Autlán), fue colgado de un roble el 26 de junio de 1927.
ST. DAVID ROLDÁN LARA
Knight of Columbus
(layman, officer of "Catholic Action" and a religious liberty league, shot to death in 1926)
Also known as: David Roldán
Memorial: 25 May
Profile: His father died when David was only a year old. Entered the seminary at Durango when very young, but had to leave to help support his family by working as a miner; never returned to seminary, and remained a layman. Worked with Saint Luis Batiz in his local parish. Joined Catholic Action (ACJM), and served as its president in 1925. Worked against the government's anti-religion laws. Vice-president of the National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty (LNDLR).
On 29 July 1929, a LNDLR meeting drew a crowd of over 500. A few days later a group of soldiers gathered up the LNDLR officers, and announced they were taking them to the state capital to explain their position. After leaving town, the soldiers stopped the cars and accused them of plotting armed revolt against the government. David was offered his freedom if he would recognize the legitimacy of Calle's anti-religious government; he declined. Martyred with Saint Salvador Lara, Saint Manuel Moralez, and Saint Luis Batiz. One of the Martyrs of the Cristera War.
También conocido como - David Roldán
Conmemorativo - el 25 de mayo
Perfil - Su padre murió cuando David era solamente un año viejo. Entró en el seminary en Durango cuando muy es joven, pero tuvo que dejar a la ayuda de la ayuda a su familia trabajando como minero ; nunca vuelto a seminary , y seguido siendo un laico . Trabajado con Santo Luis Batiz en su parroquia local. Acción católica unida ( ACJM ), y servido como su presidente en 1925 . Trabajado contra los leyes de la religión del gobierno contra -. Vice presidente de la liga nacional para la defensa de la libertad religiosa ( LNDLR ).
El 29 de julio de 1929 , una reunión de LNDLR dibujó a muchedumbre de sobre 500. Algunos días un grupo de soldados recolectó más adelante encima de los oficiales de LNDLR, y anunciado los llevaban a la Capital del Estado para explicar su posición. Después de salir de la ciudad, los soldados pararon los coches y los acusan de trazar la rebelión armada contra el gobierno. David fue ofrecido su libertad si él reconocería la legitimidad de Calle contra - gobierno religioso; él declinó. Martyred con el Salvador Lara, Santo Manuel Moralez, y Santo Luis Batiz de Santo . Uno del Martyrs de la guerra de Cristera .
ST. TORIBIO ROMO GONZÁLEZ
(parish priest, shot to death at age 27 in 1928)
Fr. Toribio Romo González was born on 16 April 1900 in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco. He was shot on 25 February 1928.
Nació en Santa Ana de Guadalupe, perteneciente a la parroquia de Jalostotitlán, Jal. (Diócesis de San Juan de los Lagos), el 16 de abril de 1900. Vicario con funciones de párroco en Tequila, Jal., (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara). Sacerdote de corazón sensible, de oración asidua. Apasionado de la Eucaristía pidió muchas veces: «Señor, no me dejes ni un día de mi vida sin decir la Misa, sin abrazarte en la Comunión». En una Primera Comunión, al tener la sagrada Hostia en sus manos, dijo: «¿Y aceptarías mi sangre, Señor, que te ofrezco por la paz de la Iglesia?» Estando en Aguascalientes, un lugar cercano a Tequila que le servía de refugio y centro de su apostolado, quiso poner al corriente los libros parroquiales. Trabajó el viernes todo el día y toda la noche. A las cinco de la mañana del sábado 25 de febrero de 1928, quiso celebrar la Eucaristía pero, sintiéndose muy cansado y con sueño prefirió dormir un poco para celebrar mejor. Apenas se había quedado dormido cuando un grupo de agraristas y soldados entraron en la habitación y cuando uno de ellos le señaló diciendo: «Ése es el cura, mátenlo», el Padre Toribio se despertó asustado, se incorporó y recibió una descarga. Herido y vacilante caminó un poco, una nueva descarga, por la espalda, cortó la vida del mártir y su sangre generosa enrojeció la tierra de esa barranca jalisciense.
ST. JENARO SÁNCHEZ DELGADILLO
(parish priest, hanged from a tree in 1927)
Fr. Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo was born on 19 September 1876 in Zapopan, Jalisco. Saying to his executioners: "I forgive you; may God my Father also forgive you, and may Christ the King live forever!", he was hanged on 17 January 1927 with such intensity that his head hit the branch of the tree.
Nació en Zapopan, Jal. (Arquidiócesis de Guadalajara), el 19 de septiembre de 1886, Vicario de Tamazulita, de la parroquia de Tecolotlán, Jal, (Diócesis de Autlán). Su párroco elogiaba su obediencia. Los fieles admiraban su rectitud, su fervor, la elocuencia de su predicación, y aceptaban gustosos la energía del Padre Jenaro cuando les exigía la buena preparación para recibir los sacramentos. Los soldados y algunos agraristas le tomaron preso junto con unos feligreses amigos cuando iban al campo. A todos les dejaron libres menos al Padre Jenaro quien fue conducido a una loma cercana a Tecolotlán y en un árbol prepararon la horca. El Padre Jenaro colocado en el centro de la tropa, con heroica serenidad les habló: «Bueno, paisanos, me van a colgar; yo les perdono, que mi Padre Dios también les perdone y siempre viva Cristo Rey». Los verdugos tiraron la soga con tal fuerza que la cabeza del mártir pegó fuertemente en una rama del árbol. Poco después murió en aquella noche del 17 de enero de 1927. La saña de los soldados continuó y en la madrugada regresaron, bajaron el cadáver, le dieron un tiroen el hombro y una puñalada que casi atravesó el cuerpo inerte del testigo de Cristo.
ST. TRANQUILINO UBIARCO ROBLES
(parish priest, hanged at age 28 in 1928)
Fr. Tranquilino Ubiarco Robles was born on 8 July 1899 in Zapotlán el Grande, Jalisco. He was hanged on 5 October 1928.
Nació en Zapotlán el Grande, Jal.
(Diócesis de Ciudad Guzmán), el 8 de julio de 1899. Vicario con funciones de
párroco en Tepatitlán, Jal. (Diócesis de San Juan de los Lagos). Fue uno de los
infatigables y abnegados misioneros en los tiempos difíciles de la persecución.
Nada le detenía para ir, lleno de caridad, a administrar los sacramentos y a
sostener la vida cristiana de los fieles celebrando la Eucaristía en casas
particulares. A principios del mes de octubre de 1928 fue a Guadalajara a
comprar lo necesario para el Sacrificio Eucarístico. Alguien le hizo ver que su
campo pastoral estaba enclavado en la zona de mayor peligro: «Ya me voy a mi
parroquia; a ver qué puedo hacer y si me toca morir por Dios, ¡Bendito sea!».
Cuando una noche preparada la celebración de la Eucaristía y la bendición de un
matrimonio, fue hecho prisionero y condenado a morir ahorcado en un árbol de la
alameda, a las afueras de la ciudad. Con entereza cristiana bendijo la soga,
instrumento de su martirio, y a un soldado que se negó a participar en el
crimen, le dijo, repitiendo las palabras del Maestro. «Hoy estarás conmigo en
ST. DAVID URIBE VELASCO
(parish priest, shot to death in 1927)
Fr. David Uribe Velasco was born on 29 December 1889 in Buenavista de Cuéllar, Guerrero. He was shot on 12 April 1927.
Nació en Buenavista de Cuéllar, Gro. (Diócesis de Chilapa), el 29 de diciembre de 1889. Párroco de Iguala, Gro. (Diócesis de Chilapa). Ejerció ejemplarmente su ministerio en una región atacada por la masonería, el protestantismo y un grupo de cismáticos. El militar que le apresó le propuso toda clase de garantías y libertad si aceptaba las leyes y el ser obispo de la Iglesia cismática creada por el Gobierno de la República, pero el Padre David reafirmó lo que había escrito un mes antes, y que revela toda la fuerza de su fe y de su fidelidad: «Si fui ungido con el óleo santo que me hace ministro del Altísimo, ¿por qué no ser ungido con mi sangre en defensa de las almas redimidas con la sangre de Cristo? !Qué felicidad morir en defensa de los derechos de Dios! ¡Morir antes que desconocer al Vicario de Cristo!» Ya en la prisión escribió sus últimas palabras: «Declaro que soy inocente de los delitos que se me acusa. Estoy en las manos de Dios y de la Virgen de Guadalupe. Pido perdón a Dios y perdono a mis enemigos; pido perdón a los que haya ofendido». Llegado a un lugar cercano a la estación de San José Vistahermosa, Mor. (Diócesis de Cuernavaca), fue sacrificado con un tiro en la nuca el 12 de abril de 1927.
ST. JOSÉ MARÍA DE YERMO Y PARRES
ST. JOSÉ MARÍA DE YERMO Y PARRES was born in the Hacienda of Jalmolonga on 10 November 1851, the son of Manuel de Yermo y Soviñas and María Josefa Parres. At the age of 16 he left his family home to enter the Congregation of the Mission in Mexico City. After a strong vocational crisis he left this religious family, but was ordained for the Diocese of León on 24 August 1879.
His first years of priesthood were filled with activity and apostolic zeal. He was an eloquent orator, promoted the catechesis of youth and efficiently discharged important responsibilities in the diocesan curia, which he was forced to give up because of illness. The new Bishop entrusted him with the care of two small churches located on the outskirts of the city: El Calvario and Santo Niño. This appointment was a hard blow for the young priest. It hurt his pride, but he decided to follow Christ in obedience, silently suffering this humiliation.
One day he unexpectedly witnessed a horrible scene: some pigs were devouring two abandoned newborns. Shocked by that terrible sight, he felt called by God to start
a home for the poor and abandoned. After receiving the Bishop's authorization, he went to work and on 13 December 1885, accompanied by four brave young women, he founded the Sacred Heart Shelter on the summit of El Calvario. This is also the start of the new religious family of the "Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor".
It was the beginning of a long, constant ascent of self-giving to God in his brothers and sisters, marked by sacrifice and self-denial, joy and suffering, peace and disappointment, poverty and misery, honours and calumnies, friendships and betrayals, obedience and humiliation. His life was very afflicted, but the tribulations and difficulties could not dampen the ardent soul of an apostle of Gospel love. In his short life (1851-1904) he founded schools, hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages and a home for rehabilitating women. Shortly before his holy death on 20 September 1904 in Puebla de los Angeles, he took his religious family to the difficult mission among the Tarahumara Indians in northern Mexico. His fame of sanctity spread rapidly among the People of God, who asked for his intercession. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 6 May 1990.
José María de Yermo y Parres – El sacerdote José María de Yermo y Parres nació en la Hacienda de Jalmolonga, municipio de Malinalco, Edo. de México el 10 de noviembre de 1851, hijo del abogado Manuel de Yermo y Soviñas y de María Josefa Parres. De nobles orígenes, fue educado cristianamente por el papá y la tía Carmen ya que su madre murió a los 50 días de su nacimiento. Muy pronto descubrió su vocación al sacerdocio.
A la edad de 16 años deja la casa paterna para ingresar en la Congregación de la Misión en la Ciudad de México. Después de una fuerte crisis vocacional deja la familia religiosa de los Paúles y continúa su camino al sacerdocio en la Diócesis de León, Gto. y allí fue ordenado el 24 de agosto de 1879. Sus primeros años de sacerdocio fueron fecundos de actividad y celo apostólico.
Fue un elocuente orador, promovió la catequesis juvenil y desempeñó con esmero algunos cargos de importancia en la curia, a los cuales por motivo de enfermedad tuvo que renunciar. El nuevo obispo le confía el cuidado de dos iglesitas situadas en la perifería de la ciudad: El Calvario y el Santo Niño. Este nombramiento fue un duro golpe en la vida del joven sacerdote. Le sacudió profundamente en su orgullo, sin embargo decidió seguir a Cristo en la obediencia sufriendo esta humillación silenciosamente.
Un día, mientras se dirigía a la Iglesia del Calvario, se halla de improviso ante una escena terrible: unos puercos estaban devorándose a dos niños recién nacidos. Estremecido por aquella tremenda escena, se siente interpelado por Dios, y en su corazón ardiente de amor proyecta la fundación de una casa de acogida para los abandonados y necesitados. Obtenida la autorización de su obispo pone mano a la obra y el 13 de diciembre 1885, seguido por cuatro valientes jóvenes, inaugura el Asilo del Sagrado Corazón en la cima de la colina del Calvario. Este día es también el inicio de la nueva familia religiosa de las “Siervas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús y de los Pobres”.
Desde ese día el Padre Yermo pone el pie sobre el primer peldaño de una larga y constante escalada de entrega al Señor y a los hermanos, que sabe de sacrificio y abnegación, de gozo y sufrimiento, de paz y de desconciertos, de pobrezas y miserias, de apreciaciones y de calumnias, de amistades y traiciones, de obediencias y humillaciones. Su vida fue muy atribulada, pero aunque las tribulaciones y dificultades se alternaban a ritmo casi vertiginoso, no lograron nunca abatir el ánimo ardiente del apóstol de la caridad evangélica.
En su vida no tan larga (1851-1904) fundó escuelas, hospitales, casas de descanso para ancianos, orfanatos, una casa muy organizada para la regeneración de la mujer, y poco antes de su santa muerte, acontecida el 20 de septiembre de 1904 en la ciudad de Puebla de los Ángeles, llevó a su familia religiosa a la difícil misión entre los indígenas tarahumaras del norte de México. Su fama de santidad se extendió rápidamente en el pueblo de Dios que se dirigía a él pidiendo su intercesión. Fue beatificado por Su Santidad JuanPablo II el 6 de mayo 1990 en la Basílica de Ntra. Sra. de Guadalupe en la Ciudad de México.
ST. MARÍA DE JESÚS SACRAMENTADO VENEGAS DE LA TORRE
St. María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas de la Torre was born María Natividad Venegas de la Torre in Zaplotanejo, Jalisco, Mexico, on 8 September 1868. Her father, Doroteo Venegas Nuño, was a pious middle-class man married to María de la Torre Jiménez. María was the youngest of 12. Her deep religious piety was nourished by frequent Communion and visits to the Blessed Sacrament. She devoted herself to giving private religious instruction to her neighbours and to caring for the poor. At the age of 15 she entered the Daughters of Mary, a well-known association of Catholic youth.
In November 1905, longing to consecrate her life to God, she and other girls asked Fr Antonio González for spiritual direction. He suggested that she and three other Daughters of Mary make a retreat at San Sebastián Analco, Guadalajara. After the retreat, the call to religious life became clear and definite. Among the various possibilities, she preferred to join a community of pious women who since 1886 had run a little hospital for poor people. They had received official ecclesiastical approval and their own rule. The future Bishop of Colima, Fr Atenógenes Silva, had been their founder and was their spiritual director for many years. They had chosen the title of Daughters of the Sacred Heart, and Miss Aguirre Sofía (later Sr Doloritas) was their Superior.
The saint entered religious life on 8 December 1905. In 1910 she privately took the three vows and in 1912 was appointed vicar. In 1921 she was elected Superior. That same year Bishop Miguel de la Mora of Potosí invited the new Superior to write the Constitutions for a real religious community, as a step towards getting approval as a congregation. The saint was reluctant, citing her ignorance and incompetence in such matters. But in the end she accepted. From 1921 to 1924, with the help of Mons. Atenógenes Silva and other priests, she drew up new Constitutions with three chapters.
With alms and donations a residence was built for the sisters in 1922, since other young candidates were asking to join the new institute. Meanwhile the whole of Mexico was in utter confusion because of the religious persecution undertaken by the Government. They searched everywhere for priests, arrested Bishops and confiscated seminaries,
Catholic schools and ecclesiastical property. The saint, with courage and intelligence, succeeded in saving, even in strengthening, the institute. In 1930 Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez gave his approval to the Constitutions.
From 1921 until 1954, the saint was Superior General of the institute, giving witness to all by her good example. She tried to make her feelings those of the Heart of Jesus. She loved the Church and showed great respect and obedience to the Pope and Bishops. Priests were her favourites; she prayed for them and helped seminarians to the best of her ability. She took special care of the sisters in formation. She gave them the example of her deep love for the Lord, the poor and the sick, her special devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and the careful observance of the vows and the rule. By her humility she was an example of fidelity to the Gospel, to the Church and to one's vocation.
She spent the last days of her life in prayer and meditation, totally obedient to the new Superior. She died in the odour of sanctity on 30 July 1959.
María de Jesús Sacramentado – María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas de la Torre, nació en un poblado del municipio de Zapotlanejo, Jalisco (México) el 8 de Septiembre de 1868, la bautizaron con el nombre de María Natividad. La vida de la joven María Natividad se desarrolló en un clima de sencillez, sin hechos extraordinarios, su niñez y adolescencia con los matices que da la vida. A la edad de 19 años quedó huérfana de padre y madre quedando al cuidado de una tía paterna. María Natividad sentía fuerte atractivo hacia la vida religiosa, y el 8 de diciembre de 1989, ingresa en la floreciente Asociación de Hijas de María, en su lugar natal.
El 8 de diciembre de 1905 asistió a unos Ejercicios Espirituales y como fruto de éstos, decide formar parte del grupo de “Hijas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús”, que con ella completaban 6 para el cuidado de los enfermos en el Hospital del Sagrado Corazón, recién fundado por el Sr. Canónigo Don Atenógenes Silva y Alvarez Tostado. Se distinguió por su humildad, sencillez, trato afable conlas hermanas, enfermos y personas en general, esta inmensa caridad bebida de la fuente del Corazón Divino de Jesús, a quien amó, en quien siempre esperó y cuya devoción procuró inculcar a todas las personas de su alrededor.
Manifestó un trato especial a los obispos y sacerdotes, atendiéndolos con verdadero amor, respeto y obediencia, viendo en ellos la prolongación de Cristo Sumo y Eterno Sacerdote. En el año de 1912 fue elegida Vicaria, puesto que ocupó hasta el 25 de enero de 1921 en el que, realizadas las primeras elecciones canónicas, resultó elegida Superiora General, al poco tiempo escribe las Constituciones que regirían a las Hijas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, éstas fueron aprobadas en 1930, reconociéndose así el nuevo Instituto.
El 30 de Julio de 1959 entregó su alma al Creador, llena de paz, después de recibir los auxilios sacramentales. El milagro reconocido para su Canonización pertenece al Sr. Anastasio Ledezma Mora, que fue llevado al Hospital del Sagrado Corazón para someterlo a una operación quirúrgica. Después de la anestesia, se manifestó una lentitud cardíaca, que aumentó gradualmente hasta finalizar en un paro total del corazón y de las arterias. Enseguida se intentaron terapias de reanimación aunque en vano, por lo que el enfermo cayó en coma profundo.
Los médicos enfermeros que estaban en el quirófano, así como la esposa del enfermo y las hermanas (Hijas del Sagrado Corazón), invocaron la intercesión de la Beata María de Jesús Sacramentado. Después de 10 o 12 minutos, las palpitaciones se restablecieron y más allá de lo que los médicos esperaban, el enfermo no sufrió ningún daño en el cerebro; a los pocos días fue sometido a una hemicolectomía con colostomía definitiva sin complicación alguna. Se tuvo como admirable la reanudación de los latidos del corazón gravemente interrumpidos.
Blessed Miguel Pro
It is not our intention here to describe the life and activity of Father Pro in detail, nor to enter into the particulars of his death. Our purpose is to highlight the chief features of his rich personality and give prominence to the spirit, which animated him and led him to martyrdom.
However, even this is not an easy task, especially when we keep in mind what a great sense of humor he had, an expression of his candid and cheerful personality. The jokes he played, even during the years of formation he spent as a Jesuit, were proverbial. It is both fascinating and amusing to observe his capacity for making fun even of the policemen who were looking for him and who had actually laid hands on him. We know what disguises he used to elude surveillance so he could exercise his priestly ministry. They have been amply recorded in photographs.
His personal gifts, the richness of his temperament, the purity of his heart and of his behavior enabled him to come into contact with people of every kind and to establish very warm relationships. The education he received in the family, his experiences with his father, a mining engineer, had refined his innate sense of goodness, of understanding and of closeness to the less fortunate. The special studies, which he later did, especially when he was in Belgium, and the contacts he made with some French Jesuit Fathers, developed his sensitivity to social problems, of which he acquired a considerable knowledge and competence. The visits he made to the miners, especially in Charleroi, enabled him to see for himself more than once the miserable conditions of certain kinds of persons and sharpened in him the need to be near the suffering and exploited and to dedicate himself to their welfare.
On one occasion he had gone down with the workers into the mine tunnels and later, on returning to the surface, wanted to accompany them in the train on their way home. When the miners realized that they were in the presence of a priest, they remained silent until one of them, probably to intimidate him, asked him if he was aware that he was surrounded by socialists. Unruffled, Father Pro declared that he himself was a "socialist" and that his only worry was what they would do with the money of the rich once they had it in their hands. The worker did not know what to reply. To get himself out of trouble, he pointed out that there were also many communists among them. Father Pro reacted by saying that he himself was also a "communist." "Look, it is one o'clock and you are eating. Well, I'm hungry too!! Will you not share your food with me?" Bewildered by such composure, the worker looking questioningly at his companions. Then, he turned once again to the Father and asked him: "Are you not afraid to enter our compartment?" Whereupon Father Pro announced in mock-heroic tone that he always traveled armed. While the workers looked sidelong at one another, even more stunned by the unusual behavior of such a priest, Father Pro pulled out a crucifix from his pocket, his "arms." Then he explained to them the love of Christ for the workers. At the first station one of them got off the train, bought a chocolate bar and shared it with him. Before taking their leave, everyone wanted to shake hands with him.
This is one of the many incidents in the life of this man who knew how to use his sense of humor and ability to joke in order to establish a friendly rapport which became the medium of a message of goodness and of love -- one that came straight from the depths of his priestly heart.
A Tireless Priest
It is he himself who informs us of this many-sided and intense activity. His style is unmistakable. The freshness of language with which he describes the situations and the surroundings in which he works enables us almost to see him in action:
Imagine fifty automobile drivers, hefty, of a type who sport the tejano cap, with a lock of hair sliding down the corner of the eyes, and spitting prodigiously from the corner of the mouth. Precious types, despite their rough and filthy manners.... To my great surprise, I realized that coarse words flowed naturally from my lips. And after so many years, I thought I had already forgotten them; it has been no less than 16 years since I left the mines; but by golly! It is though I had left them only yesterday.
Needless to stress the solemnity of this conference. I held it in a spacious makeshift courtyard, dressed as a mechanic, with a beret pulled down over my forehead and rubbing elbows with my sympathetic audience. God bless the drivers of the world!
Giving himself totally day and night to the exercise of his priestly ministry and of charitable activities towards countless needy persons, Father Pro never lost his cheerfulness and serenity.
But, he had to do everything with the utmost care and ingenuity, resorting at times to amusing improvisations even at the expense of his pursuers.
He was well aware that he was among the priests who were targets of the police:
The revolution is worsening. Reprisals will be terrible especially in Mexico City. The first to be arrested will be those who have had a hand in religious matters; and I... I have had mine up to the elbow!
Ah! to be among the first or among the last; in any case, to be among their number! If this happens, send your petitions to heaven: There I will be your best provider.
As we said, since October 1926 he had become an object of totally special surveillance and a warrant of arrest had been issued against him for being guilty of carrying on religious propaganda. The state of things became further aggravated in December when, on the occasion of a big feast day, the Catholics had taken the opportunity to send off 600 balloons which were to rain down leaflets on the city. As the colored pieces of paper poured down from the sky, the crowd cheered. Calles, who was also present at the festivities, showed himself pleasantly surprised by that spectacle. But when one of the leaflets was brought to him, and he saw the religious message, he flew into a rage and ordered the arrest of the culprits.
That same evening, a strict watch was set up around the house of the Pro family. They suspected Humberto, but it was Father Miguel who ended up in the hands of the police. He himself has given us a report of what happened:
On 4 December, the day the balloons were launched, Bandala came to search the house. He found nothing but gave orders to arrest anyone who entered the house. Since I was the only one who entered, I had the honor of paying a visit to the elegant palace of Santiago Tlaltelolco (the prison).
At seven in the evening, they led me between two rows of soldiers along with six others who had been arrested like me on account of the balloons. The lieutenant in charge who received us at Santiago first read an official notice of the government which declared us prisoners, and then added laughing: 'Tomorrow we shall have Mass.' I was afraid they had guessed who I was. We eyed each other from head to foot to see who it could be and he specified: 'It is one called Miguel Agustín.' At that point I remonstrated and asked for an explanation. Pointing to the word Pro after my name, he asked what it meant. It is my family name, I answered. It is P-r-o and not P-b-r-o, which is am abbreviation for "presbitero" (Spanish for 'priest').
We spent the night under the stars because they had received orders to make life difficult for us. Well, they laid out for us a large mattress of cement and for pillows, the walls, and as blankets, the air currents. All seven of us huddled together against each other because it was really exceptionally cold. The next day they would have liked to rouse us with buckets of water, but because we were not asleep, we started to run at the first approach of the buckets amidst the hoots and laughter of the soldiers.
Our purse contained the moderate sum of three pesos and 10 centavos, enough to pay for a pot of boiled orange leaves without sugar, but for us it seemed like nectar fallen from heaven, after the cold had made us rigid as drumskins. At noon I left the prison.
This vivid, accurate, and humorous account written in his own handwriting is one of the many which have come down to us. They are occasional writings, written in great haste during the few free moments he had. They reveal the humorous side of his character, but at the same time his profound seriousness, his love for God and for men and women, as well as his awareness of the danger he was constantly running because of the courage with which he lived his priesthood.
Although he was set free, the police never again let him out of their sight.
And yet his zeal urged him on. Fearlessly, he continued to exercise his priestly ministry. The Pauline phrase Caritas Christi urget nos (2 Cor. 5, 14) describes Father Pro himself very well and reveals the force which animated him:
The work has increased because as far as my strength allows, I have taken charge of the Holy Family parish. Before things changed for the worse, I had my 'Communion Centers,' where I went every day to bring Holy Communion to between three and four hundred people. On the first Fridays of the month the number almost trebled and they increased every month: 900, 1300, 1500 communions.
It will be easy for you to imagine what this means for a poor parish priest unaccustomed to hear confessions.
Very elegantly, I rode through the streets of God on my brother's bicycle, because the drivers of Mexico are very cheeky. I have lost track of my other ministries. Sick calls have been my favorite occupation besides bringing Viaticum and giving Extreme Unction. Baptisms and marriages galore, especially among the working class. I mention in particular the baptism of two young girls of twenty-five and twenty-eight who had foolishly received communion several times before they had been baptized. Then there was the conversion of some socialists and of a heretic, and very many First Communions.
Appointed chief lecturer by the League, I organized 150 young men for a lecturing campaign which at first had excellent results. but subsequent arrests clipped our wings and brought down our elaborate organization.
In the poor quarters, pushed about my the vortex of persons of my kind, I seemed to have found myself in my element. I talked, shouted, bellowed before that audience in shirt sleeves. Hundreds came to our conferences, braving the gendarmes and the policemen. Poor people! So much good can be done among them!
As the situation worsened, superiors considered it wise to order him to go into hiding. During that time he wrote these lines:
“Confined now to a small room, without any view except the neighbor's yard, I am prohibited from allowing myself to be seen often. If you could send me books, I would be grateful to you.”
In prayer and in silence he obeyed what was asked of him. As a good Jesuit he accepted the will of his Father Provincial and, as a good Jesuit, he did not hesitate to manifest to him all that he had in his heart. So from his hiding-place he continued:
“Obedience is better than sacrifice, so I have not moved from here.”
“I really do not want to complain or to blame anyone. But allow me to say this: The situation is very delicate, dangers surround us, and yet has not the good God said: 'Help yourself, that heaven may help you?' The people are in dire need of spiritual help. Every day I hear of various persons dying without the sacraments. Priests are no longer ready to court danger; they have retreated out of fear or out of obedience. If I could do my little bit, I would certainly be exposing myself to danger if I were to do it as before; but to do it with discretion and moderation does not seem reckless to me. Father Carlos is much too afraid; between two solutions he infallibly chooses the more pessimistic one. It seems to me that between recklessness and fear there is a third choice, just as between excessive prudence and audacity.
“I have presented all these reasons to Father Carlos; he fears for my life! But what is my life anyway? To list it for my brothers and sisters: Is that not perhaps equal to saving it? Of course I should not lose it foolishly. but when the sons of Loyola have to fight, are they to turn their backs at the first gunshot? I speak, of course, in general because there are those who will be of great use tomorrow, and it is wise to watch with care over their lives. But a character like me!
“What motivates me, Father, is not a desire that comes from a false sense of humility for from an air of courage. On the one hand I am convinced before God of my uselessness and of my little value, and on the other hand I know that I can be useful to a large number of persons, both priests and lay people, if I remain among them these days, when these poor brethren have so much need of the help of the Church.
“The most that those fellows can do to me is kill me; but this will not happen except on the day and the hour that the good God chooses.
“Besides it seems that the persecution will last for quite a while, and there are few, very few pastors who are taking care of the flock of Christ....
“Well do I know that I am doing more for the Church by remaining buried, out of obedience, in a poor room, than if I were to keep myself out of the fray of my own free will. But I also know that it is not disobedience to ask my superiors permission to do something, when I can do it without exposing myself top danger.”
The Father Provincial was so impressed by this letter that he gave him permission to resume his activity, but with the advice that he do so with utmost prudence. Father Pro took up his apostolic labors again with great enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the situation worsened and he manifested this to Father Provincial in a letter dated 15 May 1927:
Here things are going pretty badly. One can't see the point when the horizon will clear up. Without the direct intervention of God Our Lord, human means cannot remedy the evil. Blessed is he who thus disposes things and gives us the grace to live this life, which is no longer a life! The lack of priests is serious. People die without the sacraments and the few priests who are left are not enough for the task. Those who are left? O my! If each one would do his part, things would not go so badly; but not all are masters of their fear....
I observe the precautions which you suggested and nothing has happened to me. The alarms...remain on the level of alarm and they help me, spiritually and materially, to throw myself with confidence into the arms of a loving Providence of God our Father. When the danger has passed, we have the time of our life because the disguised life we lead is that of a perfect comedian.
With regard to ministries, I am kept busy especially with confessions and preparations for death. I wish I could multiply myself a hundred times so I could be present to everyone. God will accept my goodwill.
I commend myself in a most special way to your prayers. The dangers among which we live are terrible. Terrible if we look at them with the eyes of the body, but not so if we look at them with the eyes of the soul.
These excerpts from his writings need no comment. They are enough to help us capture and appreciate the personality of Father Pro and his spirit. So inspired, he continued on his way, following with passionate love his Lord to whom he had given his life in the Society of Jesus.
"He told me to desire physical and moral martyrdom," testified a confidant of his, Father Alfredo Méndez Medina, "and when I asked him what he meant by a moral martyrdom, he replied that he wanted to die dishonored like Christ."
The idea which St. Ignatius proposes to those who want to follow Christ in the Society of Jesus is that to which Father Pro sincerely aspired. It was in these terms that the founder of the Order expressed himself:
So those who are progressing in the spiritual life and truly following Christ our Lord love and intensely desire.... to clothe themselves with the same clothing and uniform of their Lord.... ready to accept and suffer with patience, through the help of God's grace, any such injuries, mockeries, and affronts entailed by the wearing of this uniform of Christ our Lord.
All of this was to become reality in the life of the Jesuit, Miguel Agustín Pro.
Arrest and Martyrdom
Then, after the proposal to have a formal trial was rejected, came the order to have the priest shot and, together with him, his brother Humberto.
Till the very last moment, Pro and his brothers were convinced that within a short time they would be set free, such was their confident innocence. But the unyielding fury against the Church, and especially against this exemplary priest of hers, brought him to that ignominious death with which the authorities sought, vainly, to place on him the infamy of the attempt of which he was entirely innocent and even completely ignorant.
There is no way more eloquent to summarize what happened in those last moments of his life than to go back to what Roberto Pro had solemnly given as sworn evidence. He was released after he had shared those days in prison with his brother Miguel and Humberto, and was present at the last moments of their lives. And so we have a first class testimony which also enables us to further appreciate the mind and heart of Father Pro:
I saw my brother Miguel when they brought him out to shoot him, and this is how...., but so you may understand my narrative, let me go back to the day before he was shot. On 22 November 1927 my brother Miguel made his last deposition towards 7 or 8 p. m. I remember him saying more or less these words to me: 'Now I think they have finished with our depositions. I suppose they will appoint a competent tribunal and turn us over to it. The Lord will provide. From that it seemed clear what his impression was at the end of the depositions, but the impression was altered when we both noticed the unusual movements of the troops and of the guards assigned to us. Our guard was changed every half hour from around 9 p.m. of the 22nd. The first thing we both did without communicating the fear which we felt, was to recite the rosary. After that we remained silent, because neither one of us dared to communicate to the other what he was thinking. But something happened to stir us form our silence. Towards 11 p.m. or midnight, Generals Roberto Cruz and Palomera Lopez came down to the basement of the police office. The latter was an immoral and bloody man; he had turned into an executioner of Catholics and of anyone who opposed the plans of the government. They were accompanied by various colonels whose names I do not know, but I know that they were the adjutants or seconds of the said generals. Moreover, there were various photographers. I don't know whether they were official or belonged to the newspapers. The two generals commanded my brothers Miguel and Humberto, Engineer Luis Segura Vilchis, Juan Tirado and myself to come out to the corridor of the basement. When all five of us were lined up, General Cruz, accompanied by General Lopez, identified each one of us by name so that General Palomera Lopez could inspect us closely from head to foot without saying a word. Immediately thereafter, he ordered the photographers present to take a picture of each of us. Those were the photographs which were published in the newspapers of Mexico. They are the ones where the three of us brothers are wearing sweaters. The inspection over, orders were given that no one was to speak with anyone. For this reason the guards were changed for the evident fear they had that we might subvert our guards. Next them made us return to the basement where we had come from, without saying one word to us. Back in the basement, Miguel and I could not hide the great uneasiness and fear which the visit of Palomera Lopez and companions left in us. I remember Miguel saying to me: 'Now things are really getting serious. Who knows what these gentlemen want to do. I am afraid they are up to no good. Let us ask God for resignation and strength for what He has in store for us and let us resign ourselves to what will happen.' I remember that afterwards we prayed again. I made my confession to Miguel and he gave me absolution. We passed a rather uneasy night, what with the sound of arms, the voices giving orders and, above all, the frame of mind we were in. The next morning, more or less towards six, Miguel who woke up with a severe headache, took an aspirin tablet or something equivalent, and I remember that he said more or less these words to me: 'I don't know how to explain it, but I feel that today something is going to happen to us. Let us ask for His grace.' After praying, we set to playing as cheerfully as we possibly could by performing juggling feats to keep ourselves warm. I do not recall if we had breakfast or not. But I definitely recall that towards 9:30 a.m. we heard the squeals of clarions, troop movements and general commotion all over the police headquarters. At 10:20 a.m., the chief of agents, Mazcorro by name, appeared and with a commanding voice that we all could hear, called Engineer Luis Segura Vilchis. Eight or ten minutes afterwards, we heard a volley of rifle shots and a few seconds after, a single shot. For or five minutes passed before Mazcorro came again. With the same commanding voice he called my brother Miguel who was with me in the basement. As I said, he did not have his coat on. Mazcorro told him to put it on and as he was putting it on, he took and shook my hands and then left accompanied by Mazcorro. I went to a small window which was blocked by tables and faced the courtyard of the headquarters. I saw Miguel pass escorted by Mazcorro, an official, and some soldiers. I could not see anything after that. I only heard another loud volley of rifle-shots, as before, and a moment after, a single shot. This was the way he received the notice of execution which had not even been communicated to him. I want to declare that I cannot state for sure what Miguel's impression was when he heard the volley that killed Engineer Luis Segura Vilchis because all these things happened one after another in a few minutes. They were terrible minutes for me and I do not want to risk reporting a fact of which I am not completely sure. I said that I saw him go out, and his step was natural and serene as usual.
What Roberto Pro did not see and was not included in his account is supplied for us in the deposition made by Jose de Jesús Olivares, a Mexican priest who was himself detained in the basement of the Detective Inspector's Office. He was able to follow the movements of persons in the very courtyard where Father Pro was shot.
On 23 November, I saw from a window of my cell that soldiers had arrived in the courtyard of the Inspector's Office. They were personnel of the Office and other persons who were to witness the execution.
Towards 10:30 a.m., I saw Father Pro arrive in the same courtyard. He was escorted by four soldiers who let him up to the place of execution. Then I saw the commanding officer of the firing-squad approach Father Pro to ask him a question which I could not hear because of the distance from where I was, but from the gestures I gathered that Father Pro asked for a few moments to recollect himself in prayer. Then he knelt down, took out a rosary from his pocket and a crucifix which he kissed. He remained in prayer for some time, raising his eyes to heaven. Shortly after, he stood up and turning to the firing-squad, he once more kissed the crucifix which he had in his right hand while in his left he held the rosary. Then he stretched his arms in the form of a cross, and giving a nod he got ready to receive the volley of shots.
Not very long before these tragic events, a friend of Father Miguel Pro, Engineer Jorge Nuñez Prida, had asked him "what he would do if he were condemned to death." His reply was this:
I would ask for three things: that I may be permitted
1. 1. to kneel down to make an act of contrition;
2. 2. to put my arms in the form of a cross to receive the shots;
3. 3. to shout: 'Long Live Christ the King!'
All this happened. Miguel Agustín Pro ended his life with the name of Christ the King on his lips. His life was completely dedicated to the good of men and women because it was animated by the spirit of Christ.
No wonder, then, that the present Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, following the example of his predecessors and particularly of the one who was superior general at the time of his martyrdom of Father Pro, wrote a letter to all Jesuits, holding up this fellow Jesuit as a model worthy of imitation. Focusing on the special attributes, he wrote:
The tireless activity of Father Pro had attracted the attention of the authorities. It was strictly priestly activity and in no way political, but the law at that time considered it illegal. Even in his youth, along with his father, a mining engineer, Miguel learned something of the conditions in which the poor miners lived and he devoted himself to their service. This had a considerable influence on him and consequently on his vocation. To be a priest of Christ in order to be close to those suffering and in need; to spread the Kingdom of charity without neglecting that of justice. It was this priestly spirit and this 'social solicitude' of the Church that were the target of the execution squad when Father Pro was shot, with his arms spread open in the form of a cross and his lips repeating, 'Long Live Christ the King!'
In this article which we have based principally on the writings of Father Pro himself, we have tried to bring into relief the characteristic traits of his personality and spirit. Yet we would not be doing him justice if we omitted to mention the prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows which he wrote ten days before his death, when he instinctively sensed what was going to happen:
Let me live beside you, my Mother,
and your deepest grief!
the abandonment of your heart!
On the road of my
life I do not want
Nor do I wish to
In my life I want the jeers
and the derision of Calvary;
the contempt, the ignominy,
the infamy of the Cross.
stand beside you,
through the immolation of my
Martyrs whose cause is being promulgated are:
Servant of God, Dario Acosta Zurita, Mexican, priest of the diocese of Veracruz (1908-1931), killed during the religious persecution in Mexico.
Servants of God Lucas de San Jose, ne Jose Tristany Pujol, Spanish, priest of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites (1872-1936), killed for the faith in Barcelona, Leonardo Jose, ne Jose Maria Aragones Mateu, religious of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian School (1886-1936), killed for the faith in Traveseres, Apollonia del Santisimo Sacramento, nee Apolonia Lizarraga, nun of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Charity (1877-1936), killed for the faith in Barcelona, and 61 companions, killed for the faith during the religious persecution in Spain between 1936-1937.
Servant of God Brother Bernardo, ne Placido Fabrega Julia, of the Institute of the Marist Brothers of the Schools (1889-1934), killed for the faith in Barruelo during the religious persecution in Spain.
Servants of God Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, Mexican, lay person (1888-1927), killed for the faith in Guadalajara, and 7 lay companions, killed for the faith during the religious persecution in Mexico between 1927-1928.
Servant of God Jose Sanchez Del Rio, Mexican, lay person (1913-1928), killed for the faith the religious persecution in Mexico.
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