José Sánchez del Río
|Blessed José Sánchez del Río|
March 28, 1913|
Sahuayo, Michoacán, Mexico
|Died||February 10, 1928(aged 14)|
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||November 20, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI|
Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río (March 28, 1913 – February 10, 1928) was a fourteen year old Mexican Cristero who was put to death by government officials because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith. He has been declared a martyr and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005.
The Cristero War began when the government began attacking religion throughout the country with anti-religious laws written into the Mexican Constitution. President Plutarco Calles, who took office in 1924, focused on the Catholic Church, which led to seizure of church property, the closing of religious schools and convents, and the exile or execution of priests.
Life and Cristero War
José Luis Sánchez del Río was born on March 28, 1913, in Sahuayo, Michoacán. He attended school in his home town, and later in Guadalajara, Jalisco. When the Cristero War broke out in 1926, his brothers joined the rebel forces, but his mother would not allow him to take part. The rebel general, Prudencio Mendoza, also refused his enlistment. The boy insisted that he wanted the chance to give his life for Jesus and so come to Heaven easily. The general finally relented and allowed José to become the flagbearer of the troop. The Cristeros nicknamed him Tarcisius, after the early Christian saint, martyred for protecting the Eucharist from desecration.
During heavy fighting on January 25, 1928, Mendoza's horse was killed, and José gave his horse to the general so that the fight could go on. Then he sought cover and fired at the enemy until he ran out of ammunition. The government troops captured the boy and imprisoned him in the sacristy of the local church.
José's killing was witnessed by two childhood friends. It was later reported that José was "captured by government forces," who ordered him to "renounce his faith in Christ, under threat of death. He refused to accept apostasy".
To break his resolve, he was made to watch the hanging of another Cristero that they had in custody, but instead José encouraged the man, saying that they would soon meet again in Heaven. In prison, José prayed the rosary daily and wrote an emotional letter to his mother, saying that he was ready to fulfill the will of God. His father attempted to raise a ransom to save him, but was not able to appease the government in time.
Others recalled the gruesome events that transpired after the government's failure to break José's resolve on the evening of February 10, 1928: "Consequently they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery. They also at times cut him with a machete until he was bleeding from several wounds. He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, 'If you shout, "Death to Christ the King" we will spare your life.' José would only shout, 'I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey!'" When they reached the place of execution, his captors stabbed him numerous times with bayonets. The commander was so furious that he pulled out his pistol and shot José. Moments before his death, the boy drew a cross in the dirt and kissed it.
There is a first class relic (a bone fragment) in the Immaculate Conception church in Taft, Texas.
Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio High School Seminary was established in 2008 in Mankato, Minnesota by Father Carlos Miguel Buela of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE) (Spanish: Instituto del Verbo Encarnado), a Roman Catholic religious institute. The junior (middle) high school and high school is a preparatory seminary quartered on the 1854 parish grounds of the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Mankato, Minnesota. The school’s teen and young adult students are known collectively as “The Minor Seminarians”.
In popular culture
- Hansen, S.L., "Movie Reflects Historic Struggle For Religious Freedom", South Nebraska Register, Diocese of Lincoln
- 14 year-old Mexican martyr to be beatified Sunday (Catholic News Agency) November 5, 2005
- "Our Patron", Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio High School Seminary, Mankato, Minnesota
- "14 year-old Mexican martyr to be beatified Sunday", Catholic News Agency, November 4, 2005
- Esparza, Rebecca. "Blessed José Luis Sanchez Del Rio: The Boy Martyr", South Texas Catholic, Diocese of Corpus Christi, March 1, 2013
- Ferreira, Cornelia R. Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Rio: Cristero Boy Martyr, biography (2006 Canisius Books).
- Biography at Vatican News Service
- Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio High School Seminary
- José Sánchez del Río at Find a Grave