Church honors Mexican martyrs today
Today the Church honours a group of 25 Mexican martyrs, 22 of them diocesan priests and three of them laymen, St Christopher Magallanes and Companions. There is a list of their names here. Fr Pedro de Jesus Maldonado was killed in 1915, the others between 1926 and 1928.
The movie, For Greater Glory, in Spanish Cristiada, which tells something of the story of the martyrs, will be officially released on 1 June. Peter O'Toole plays the part of St Christopher. Above is the official trailer.
St Cristóbal (Christopher) Magallanes Jara was born on 30 July 1869 and executed by firing squad on 25 May 1927. The son of farmers, and a one-time shepherd, he was captured while on his way to celebrate Mass with farmers, becoming a shepherd in a much deeper sense by laying down his life for his sheep. His last words were, I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.
Blessed Pope John Paul II said in his homily during the Mass at which the saints were canonised on 21 May 2000, 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.
Many Mexicans are suffering from a different kind of persecution today, that conducted by drug lords. Perhaps we can pray to the saints the Church honours today so that Blessed Pope John Paul's words will be fulfilled.
One of the characters in For Greater Glory is 14-year-old Blessed José Luis Sánchez Del Río, beatified in Mexico on 20 November 2005. His part in the film is played by 14-year-old Mauricio Kuri. In an interview Mauricio speaks of the impact on him of the young Blessed and of his playing the martyr's part in the movie.
Pope Benedict in his message for this year's World Youth Day, celebrated in Rome on Palm Sunday, 13 April, wrote, Be enthusiastic witnesses of the new evangelization! Go to those who are suffering and those who are searching, and give them the joy that Jesus wants to bestow. Bring it to your families, your schools and universities, and your workplaces and your friends, wherever you live. You will see how it is contagious. You will receive a hundredfold: the joy of salvation for yourselves, and the joy of seeing God’s mercy at work in the hearts of others. And when you go to meet the Lord on that last day, you will hear him say: 'Well done, my good and faithful servant... Come, share your master’s joy' (Mt 25:21).
Young actor Mauricio Kuri radiates some of that joy as he speaks about the young Mexican martyr whose part he played in For Greater Glory.