Monday, February 10, 2014

(132) Blessed José Sanchez del Rio: Boy Martyr & Real Soldier of Christ..........His Participation in the Cristero War & the Intense Persecution of the Church by the Government of Mexico


      Today, February 10 is the feast day of Blessed José Sanchez del Rio, beatified by St. Pope John Paul II on his last visit to Mexico.  Thus it would be a great time to learn from the example of a real soldier of Christ in every sense of the word.  On this very date in 1928 this 14 year old boy, born on March 28, 1913,  heroically refused to divulge information about the Cristero Army for which he was a flag bearer.  Offered to be freed if he would deny the faith, José remained loyal to Christ.  

     We too are needed to be faithful soldiers of Christ in this great cultural spiritual war between good and evil that we actually are in right now.  Among other things, our freedom of religion is at stake.  For a brief history of the Cristero War and the intense persecution of the Church by the Government of Mexico, as a context for the movie, "For Greater Glory" in which Blessed Jose is the main character, see my Blog #120.


     A passionate and happy youth, José had a great love and enthusiasm for the Blessed Sacrament from an early age and encouraged his friends to have more devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  

   At the age of 14, he wrote a letter to the Cristero General Prudencio Mendoza, pleading to be allowed to be part of the army.  They used him as a gofer for such tasks as taking ammunition to the soldiers as needed.  One day he noticed that the commander-in-chief, General Gorostieta's horse was shot from under him and was on foot.  At risk to himself, he gave the general his own horse. 

Blessed José Sánchez del Rio in the Cristero Army
     Soon José was caught by the Federalists.  They put him into St. James Church, turned into a stable for the army horses and a prison.  Four days before his death, he wrote: “I am resigned to the will of God.  I die happy because I die beside Our Lord.  Do not afflict yourselves because of my death, since to die for God gives me joy.  He was heard saying the rosary and singing sacred hymns.  José not only kept the faith; he actually desired martyrdom.  His godfather, a government official, kept some of his prized fighting roosters there.  Repulsed by this sacrilege, José wrung their necks.  He responded to his furious godfather: "The house of God is for prayer, not to shelter animals." 

           A letter smuggled out of the jail for his mother stated:

“Cotija, Mich., 
Monday, February 6.1928. 

“My dear mother: 

“I was taken prisoner in combat today. I believe that I am going to die very shortly, but it does not matter, mamá. Resign yourself to the will of God. I die happy, because I die in the ranks of Our Lord. 

"Do not be distressed about my death, which is my only worry. Tell my brothers to follow the example of their younger brother and do the will of God. Have courage and send me your blessing and my father’s. 

"Give my greetings to all for the last time and receive the heart of your son who loves you and wanted to see you before dying. 

“José Sánchez del Río.” 

         On the day of his death, Blessed Jose wrote another beautiful letter to his Aunt, asking for Holy Communion.

“Sahuayo, February 10, 1928. 

“Mrs. María Sanchéz de Olmedo 
“Dearest Aunt, 

“I am sentenced to die. At half past eight tonight the moment I have so greatly desired will come. I thank you and (Aunt) Magdalena for all your kindnesses to me. I am unable to write mamá: I ask you the favor to write to her. Tell Aunt Magedalena that I managed to arrange that they permit me to see her for the last time and I believe that she will not refuse to come (to bring Holy Communion) before the martyrdom. 

"Give my greetings to all. Receive as always and for the last time the heart of your nephew who loves you dearly … 

"Cristo vive, Cristo reina, Cristo impera y Santa María de Guadalupe. 

“José Sánchez del Río, who dies in defense of the Faith” 

      His Martyrdom. Blessed José refused to give information or deny his faith.  The soldiers cut off the skin from the soles of his feet and forced him to walk to the cemetery barefoot.  Concerned about their souls, he told his executioners:  “I forgive all of you since we are Christians……I want you all to repent.”  After each torture, each blow with a machete, each stab with a bayonet, Blessed José cried out: “Viva Cristo Rey!  Viva Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!  Long live Christ the King!  Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe”.  Those were also the last words of this martyr before he was finally shot on February 10, his feast day.  Obtain more detail on his life by clicking on  Particularly good is

A wax figure of the body of Blessed José Sánchez del Rio 
with his relics in St. James Church in Sahuayo, Mexico.

     Can something similar happen here?  We too are fighting for our religious freedom as Catholic individuals, businesses, and Catholic institutions (colleges, hospitals, etc.) are being forced to have health insurance that covers abortifacients, and in some cases even abortion.


        Blessed José was one of the chief characters of a great movie, "For Greater Glory", underwritten by the Knights of Columbus.  It is described as follows on the cover of the DVD underwritten by the Knights of Columbus:  

In the exhilarating epic FOR GREATER GLORY, an impassioned group of men and women risk everything for family, faith, and the very future of the country --as the film’s adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War-- the daring people’s revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.  Academy Award winner Andy Garcia headlines an acclaimed cast as General Gorostieta, the retired military man who at first thinks he has nothing personal at stake as he and his wife (Golden Globe Winner, Eva Longoria) watch Mexico fall into a violent civil war.  Yet the man who hesitates in joining the cause will soon become the resistance’s most inspiring and self-sacrificing leader, as he begins to see the cost of religious persecution on his countrymen…….and transforms a rag-tag band of rebels into a heroic force to be reckoned with.  The General faces impossible odds against a powerful and ruthless government.  Yet it is those he meets on the journey –youthful idealists, feisty renegades, and most of all, one remarkable teenager named Jose—who reveal to him how courage and belief are forged even when justice seems lost.”  

   To order the book or DVD click on  

Scenes From the Movie, “For Greater Glory”
José being marched to his martyrdom

José's mother receives the body of her son.

José Sánchez del Rio is one of the chief characters of the movie, underwritten by the Knights of Columbus, “For Greater Glory”.  



  1. Bl. Jose Sanchez Del Rio is scheduled to be canonized Sept, 04, 2016. I have seen the movie for Greater Glory and it makes me proud of Mexico. The greatest moment of this movie is when like Jesus Christ Bl. Jose after his martyrdom is placed into the arms of his Mother.

  2. Beautiful observation. Thank you for your comment. Viva Mexico. Viva Cristo Rey! Viva la Virgin de Guadalupe. Que Dios le bendiga.