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.