Feast day of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio
St. José Luis Sanchez del Rio
José Sanchez del Rio was born in the western Mexican state of Michoacan de Ocampo, on March 28th, 1913.
For many years, Mexico had been embroiled in a nasty internal conflict between the Catholic Church and the State government. As a result, war erupted between the Catholics and the state in 1926. The war became known as the “Cristero War,” named by faithful Catholics for “Christ the King,” It lasted three years.
José emerged as an unlikely hero and eventual martyr of the struggle, sacrificing his life as a witness to his Catholic faith. José begged his mother to allow him to join his brothers as a soldier in supporting the Catholic efforts. She refused but he persisted.
Even at his tender age, José possessed a remarkable faith. When his mother relented, the boy performed menial tasks for the Cristeros forces. His dedication to Christ the King never wavered: despite governmental prohibition of the public practice of religion, José attended Mass whenever possible, received Holy Communion and never hesitated to proclaim his faith.
During one battle, a Cristero leader, General Guizar Morfín, lost the horse he was riding to enemy fire. Young José offered his own horse to the General to prevent his capture by federal troops but, in the process, was himself apprehended. The anti-Cristeros soldiers imprisoned and violently tortured him.
Efforts to free him proved unsuccessful. José prayed the Rosary daily throughout his imprisonment. Upon transfer to another prison, José was told he would be executed for his unbending dedication to his faith. He received the news with the courage of his religious convictions. As his captors beat him mercilessly, he could be heard praying “Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”
They took his shoes and removed the skin from the bottom of his feet, forcing him to walk to the cemetery, barefoot and bleeding, where soldiers repeatedly stabbed him.
He refused to reject his faith in order to spare his own life. José Sánchez del Río was shot twice and his martyred body was thrown into an open grave on February 10th, 1928, one month short of his 15th birthday.
On October 16th 2016, Pope Francis canonised José Sánchez del Río a saint. His feast day is February 10th.
we give thanks for the faith and courage of St. Jose.
When our faith wavers, strengthen us.
When times are hard, comfort us.
When all seems lost, inspire us.
We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
St. Julie: pray for us, protect us and bless us.