Monday, October 17, 2016

A Saint For Our Times: José Sánchez del Río

I've written about José Sánchez del Río previously in these Musings. The fourteen year old boy was martyred for his Catholic faith during Mexico's Cristeros War on February 10, 1928.  This past Sunday, the young fighter was among seven Saints canonized by Pope Francis.

The story of the Cristeros War is not well-known among American Catholics, but it's an important and poignant part of history. Sadly, the story is largely ignored in the history books and that's most assuredly a purposeful oversight.

When people think of the persecution of Catholics, and Christians in general, the impression is often that it happens in far-off lands and long ago. That's far from reality. The Mexican government's war on the Catholic faithful took place less than 100 years ago, in 1926 - 1929. And it took place just south of our border.

Another misconception is that our own government would have no part in such abuses. Again, this is disproven by the Cristeros War. The United States supplied arms to the Mexican government for use in the war, and even provided military air cover for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful.

There's another twist to Saint José Sánchez del Río's story, and something I find quite interesting. The picture (above) of the young boy with Cristeros fighters is one that I've seen hanging in Mexican restaurants, among other old photos. Probably not too many diners know that a Saint and fighter for Catholicism is looking down on them while they eat.

Saint José Sánchez del Río is truly a Saint for our times. His faithfulness in the face of torture and death should be a model for all of us. I pray we can be as strong. 


  1. "The United States supplied arms to the Mexican government for use in the war, and even provided military air cover for the Federales in their battles with the Catholic faithful."

    I'm aware of the Cristeros struggle against the Mexican government, which in fact was far to the radical left, and in at least one Mexican state very far to the radical left, but I wasn't aware of the air cover situation. Can you elaborate on that?

    1. Ref:

    2. Following that link, Christopher Check (whom I generally respect) makes this comment:

      "The heroic efforts of the Joan of Arc Brigades notwithstanding, the Cristero army never had enough ammunition to win a decisive victory. Too often, in the heat of battle, they had to disengage so as to live to fight another day. On several occasions they were reduced to rolling boulders (called "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers") down a hill on advancing federal troops. Although the federal army was badly led and plagued by high rates of desertion, they were never short of arms and ammunition - supplied by the U.S. government. In at least one battle, American pilots provided air support for the federal army. Stalemate, albeit one that could last for years, seemed to be the best for which the Cristeros could hope."

      I wonder if that doesn't require some additional research really, as it doesn't quite match with the state of Mexican arms at the time.

      Mexico had a native arms industry all throughout the Revolutionary period. At this point in time it was armed with 7x57 Mausers and machineguns that took the same cartridge. I think it unlikely that the US government supplied Mexico with arms and ammunition as; 1) it wouldn't have required that from us in the 1920s and; 2) US government factories were manufacturing only .30-06 in this time frame, which Mexico did not use.

      Which does not mean that Mexico wasn't allowed to import ammunition. I don't know that they did, but they might have. I just don't know the story on that.

      The story on the pilots is intriguing and I think does require followup as there isn't enough of a snipped there to really fill us in. The US remained quite active in Mexico up until at least 1921 or so and I wouldn't discount some involvement thereafter, I just don't know of any one way or another.

      The Punitive Expedition era is something I've been looking into and posting quite a bit about on my own blog, so this topic, which comes late in the Mexican Revolution, has always been of interest to me.


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