Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution: ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

The 21st day of May is the commemoration of a group of saints honored as the "Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution," including 22 Mexican priests and 3 laymen who were murdered between 1915 and 1928. As the Mexican government came to adopt anti-clerical attitudes, which were to become law in the Constitution of 1917, the Church was denied legal status and the clergy lost all political and civil rights. In response to the outbreak of widespread persecutions, the Mexican bishops suspended all public worship.

As tensions mounted, the bishops ordered all rural priests to go into hiding, officially denouncing any armed uprisings or resistance. Many priests in rural areas, however, remained dedicated to providing the Sacraments for their people, and were involved in the movement for religious freedom to some degree. It was because of the resistance soldiers' battle cry of  ¡Viva Cristo Rey! that this uprising has come to be known as the Cristero Wars.

St. Cristobal Magallanes Jara

The martyrs honored on May 21 represent a cross-section of the many Mexican priests and religious who gave their lives during the persecution. Among them is the pastor of the parish of Totalice, Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, who was killed by Revolutionary soldiers on May 25, 1921, as he traveled to say Mass at a local ranch. Before his execution he declared, “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 may bring peace to divided Mexicans.”

The other martyrs celebrated on May 21 are:
Román Adame Rosales (1859-1928)
Rodrigo Aguilar Aleman (1875-1927)
Julio Álvarez Mendoza (1866-1927)
Luis Batis Sáinz (1870-1926)
Agustín Caloca Cortés (1898-1927)
Mateo Correa Magallanes (1866-1927)
Atilano Cruz Alvarado (1901-1928)
Miguel De La Mora (1874-1927)
Pedro Esqueda Ramirez (1897-1927)
Margarito Flores Garcia (1899-1927)
José Isabel Flores Varela (1866-1927)
David Galván Bermudes (1882-1915)
Salvador Lara Puente (1905-1926)
Pedro de Jesús Maldonado (1892–1937)
Jesús Méndez Montoya (1880-1928)
Manuel Morales (1898-1926)
Justino Orona Madrigal (1877-1928)
Sabas Reyes Salazar (1879-1927)
José María Robles Hurtado (1888-1927)
David Roldán Lara (1907-1926)
Toribio Romo González (1900-1928)
Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo (1886-1927)
Tranquilino Ubiarco Robles (1889-1928)
David Uribe Velasco (1888-1927)

Other martyrs from the Mexican Revolution are also honored by the Church: in 1988, Saint John Paul II beatified the Jesuit Miguel Agustin Pro (celebrated on November 23) and, in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Anacleto González Flores and 12 others (celebrated on November 20).  

St. Toribio Roma González,
the martyred priest of Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico,
has become a popular patron of
Mexican immigrants
seeking to enter the United States
During the homily at the canonization of Saint Cristobal and his companions on May 21, 2000, Saint John Paul II reflected: “Most belonged to the secular clergy and the three laymen were seriously committed to helping priests. No abandonaron el valiente ejercicio de su ministerio cuando la persecución religiosa arreció en la amada tierra mexicana, desatando un odio a la religión católica. They did not abandon their brave work of ministry when religious persecution raged, unleashing a hatred of Catholicism, in their beloved land of Mexico. Todos aceptaron libre y serenamente el martirio como testimonio de su fe, perdonando explícitamente a sus perseguidores. All freely and calmly accepted martyrdom as a witness to their faith, explicitly forgiving their persecutors. Faithful to God and the Catholic faith deeply rooted in the ecclesial communities which they served, they are today an example for the whole Church and the Mexican society in particular... May the shining example of Cristóbal Magallanes and his companion martyrs help you to a renewed commitment of fidelity to God, a commitment able to continue to transform Mexican society in the reign of justice, fraternity and harmony among all.”
A Prayer in Honor of Saint Cristobal Magallanes and the Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution +
Almighty and eternal God who made the Priest Saint Cristobal Magallanes and his companions faithful to Christ the King even to the point of martyrdom, grant us, through their intercession, that preserving in confession of the true faith, we may always hold fast to the commandments of your love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)

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