José Sánchez del Río
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José Luis Sánchez del Río
March 28, 1913|
Sahuayo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
|Died||February 10, 1928
Sahuayo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Beatified||November 20, 2005, Guadalajara, Mexico by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins|
|Canonized||October 16, 2016, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis|
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of the Catholic Church
Saint José Luis Sánchez del Río (March 28, 1913 – February 10, 1928) was a Mexican Cristero who was put to death by government officials because he refused to renounce his Catholic faith. His death was seen as a largely political venture on the part of government officials in their attempt to stamp out dissent and crush religious freedom in the area. He was dubbed as "Joselito".
He was declared to be martyr on June 22, 2004 by Pope John Paul II and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI – through the Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints – on November 20, 2005 in Mexico. Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to him on January 21, 2016, allowing for his canonization to take place; a date was determined at a consistory on March 15, 2016 and he was proclaimed to be a saint on October 16, 2016.
The Cristero War began when the government began eliminating church privileges and seizing church properties throughout the country, in accordance with anti-clerical laws written into the Mexican Constitution. President Plutarco Elias Calles, who took office in 1924, focused on the Roman Catholic Church, which led to seizure of church property, the closing of religious schools and convents, and the exile or the execution of priests.
Life and Cristero War
He attended school in his hometown and later in Guadalajara in 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 Christ 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.
Torture and death
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 after death. 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 to whom he dedicated himself. His father attempted to raise a ransom to save him, but was not able to appease the government in time to do so, thus failing to secure the release of his son.
Others recalled the gruesome events that transpired after the government's failure to break José's resolve on the evening of 10 February 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 in the head. Moments before his death, the boy drew a cross in the dirt and kissed it.
Burial and relics
The remains of José Luis Sánchez del Río are enshrined above a side altar in the Church of Saint James the Apostle in Sahuayo, his hometown.
There are several wax images of José which are mistaken to be his incorrupt body.
The sainthood proceedings opened in Zamora on May 1, 1996 in a diocesan process that spanned until October 25, 1996. A week prior to the conclusion of that phase the Congregation for the Causes of Saints declared "nihil obstat" (nothing against) to the cause on October 21, 1996; this granted him the title Servant of God – first stage in the sainthood process. The process was later ratified as being valid on November 29, 2002 and allowed for officials to draft and submit in 2003 the Positio on his martyrdom.
Pope John Paul II approved the findings on June 22, 2004 which would allow for his beatification. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005 in Mexico; the Cardinal-Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presided on behalf of the pontiff.
The miracle needed for his canonization was investigated on a local level in Mexico and concluded its work on January 30, 2015. A medical board approved it in 2015 while theologians did so as well on 8 October 2015; the C.C.S. granted final approval on January 12, 2016 before submitting it to the pope for his approval.
The miracle attributed to José Luis Sánchez del Río is the inexplicable recovery of a baby who doctors said had "no hope of survival" in Mexico, 2008-2009.
Pope Francis approved the miracle as being directly attributed to his intercession on January 21, 2016 and the pope confirmed at an ordinary consistory of cardinals on March 15, 2016 the date of which he would be elevated to sainthood. He was canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on October 16, 2016.
The postulator at the time of the canonization was Fr. Fidel González Fernández.
The "Blessed José Sánchez del Río 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
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to José Sánchez del Río.|
- "At 14, the martyr José Sánchez had more value than all the enemy troops: model for the young". Religion en Libertad. March 19, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- "14 year-old Mexican martyr to be beatified Sunday". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- "Our Patrons". Retrieved March 19, 2016.
- "Image of where Saint Joselito's relics are enshrined". Retrieved October 23, 2016.
- Esparza, Rebecca. "Blessed José Luis Sanchez Del Rio: The Boy Martyr", South Texas Catholic, Diocese of Corpus Christi, March 1, 2013
- Story of Miracle attributed to José Luis Sánchez del Río http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/one-familys-unimaginable-suffering-paves-the-way-for-a-teens-sainthood-61117/
- Ferreira, Cornelia R. Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Rio: Cristero Boy Martyr, biography (2006 Canisius Books).
- McKenzie, Fr. Kevin William "Blessed José", biography (2014)