For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name, Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!
For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, so that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers; and already they were singing the praises of the ancestors.Wisdom 18:9
The first time I heard about St Jose Sanchez del Rio was shortly before Easter of this year. A family friend asked me if I could make her a felt doll to hide in her son’s suitcase before he left on a mission trip to Mexico. I agreed to make it, and then raced off to Google to find out all I could about him so that I could design a fitting doll. His story brought me to tears.
Born in 1913 in Mexico, he was one of four children and loved his faith. He was 12 years old when the Cristero Wars began and Catholics were persecuted. Priests were killed, churches were burned, Catholic schools were closed, and many were martyred. His two brothers were in the army, and despite his young age, he wrote to one of the Cristero generals begging to be allowed to fight as well. He was granted permission to be a flag bearer.
While in battle one day, he was captured while giving his horse to a general whose horse had been killed. He was asked to denounce his faith and the Cristero cause, but he refused. They locked him in a church that had been converted into a prison, where they were also keeping their expensive fighting roosters for cock fights. Jose was angry and said, “This is not a barnyard!” and killed them all. Soon after, the enemy decided to kill him.
On the way to his execution, the soldiers tortured him by cutting off the soles of his feet, and repeatedly striking him with their machetes. They forced him to walk barefoot across gravel roads to his grave, and even made him walk across salt. With every blow, he shouted “Viva Cristo Rey!” which means “Long Live Christ the King!” As he walked through town, he prayed the Rosary for his enemies. The soldiers told him, “If you say ‘Death to Christ the King” we’ll spare your life,” to which he replied, “Viva Cristo Rey.” The commander ordered the soldiers to bayonet him, but with every stab he cried louder and louder, “Viva Cristo Rey!” The commander grew so angry that he eventually pulled out his own pistol and shot him on the spot.
Let us pray that we will always have the strength and courage to defend our Faith as passionately as young St Jose Sanchez del Rio. Viva Cristo Rey!
To Jesus through Mary-Adrianna Tucker