The Catholic Defender: St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions, Martyrs
1917 was an important year as the battle between good and evil became more manifested. The Bolshevik Revolution spreading Atheistic Socialism and threatening Christian Europe. In Fatima, Heaven responds as Our Lady of Fatima warns of the coming threat of Communism. The war would find its way to Mexico in the 1920's, “Viva, Cristo Rey!” was the resounding battle cry of the Cristeros in their struggle against the violent imposition of a secularist, anti-Catholic, anti-clerical state in Mexico during La Cristiada (1926-1929), a war described by Graham Greene as “the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.”
Patriots who stood up against the oncoming anti-Catholic government of Mexico that was bread from the Russian Bolshevik Revolution were called the "Cristeros". Their slogan, "Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe" was a call to stand up for the Catholic Faith. The attacks on celebrating the Mass was spreading from State to State even banning foreign clergy.
St. Christopher Magallanes along with 21 other priests, three companions were martyrs between 1915 - 1937. These brave souls were shot, hanged, or suffered tortures as terrible as evil men could employ. St. Magallanes preached the Catholic faith instilling hope to those being oppressed. At the hands of tyrants, St Magallanes defiantly shouted, "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico."
Galatians 5:1 States, "For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." Jesus also said that we would be His witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8) many of the faithful have given much others like St. Christopher Magallanes gave their all.
Consider the mindset of those who opposed Christ and His Church who wanted to destroy the cause of freedom. Garrido Canabal was the Governor of the State of Tabasco, Mexico who named his three sons Lenin (after the Bolshevik Leader), Satan, and Lucifer. He named a prize bull "God" to mock God, a hog he called the "Pope" he called a cow "Mary", and his donkey he called "Christ". Canabal wasn't obvious was he? If your still not convinced of their hatred of Christ, Canabal ordered everyone within his jurisdiction to remove all crucifixes and destroyed them from public buildings and community graveyards. Anything that supported the Church these authorities sought to destroy.
The President of Mexico was no better, Plutarco Calles was raised with a special hatred for Christ being an illegitimate child who parents were anti-Catholic. Atheism was Calles religion which gives a quick understanding of what these great Saints had to endure. Hatred against the Catholic faith and the persecution that resulted from this tyranny, many people suffered.
This is why the movement of the Cristeros first began, to defend true freedom. True Liberty is the freedom and the opportunity to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and to practice our holy Faith. In the 1920,s Central Mexico was a battle zone. The Church is suffering persecution all over the world today, even in the United States the Secularists are working to tear down the Catholic faith and take away our freedoms.
How different was St. Magallanes who was raised in a poor family but was rich in faith. He was ordained a priest in 1899. On 21 May, 1927, Father Magallanes got caught in the middle of a crossfire between Cristeros and Atheistic Federal forces leading to Father Magallanes arrest. With brother priest, Father Caloca was given no rights, no trial, they were just taken out and shot. Father Caloca's last words were, "For God we lived and for Him we die.”
The tyrants in Mexico simply would blindfold the priest, tie his hands behind his back and shoot them in the back of the head. In 2000, Pope St. John Paul II Canonized Twenty-five of these blessed martyrs:
Along with Frs. Magallanes (Cristóbal Magallanes Jara) and Caloca (Agustín Caloca Cortés), these martyrs were: Román Adame Rosales, Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán, Julio Álvarez Mendoza, Luis Batis Sáinz, Mateo Correa Magallanes, Atilano Cruz Alvarado, Miguel De La Mora, Pedro Esqueda Ramírez, Margarito Flores Garcia, José Isabel Flores Varela, David Galván Bermúdez, Salvador Lara Puente (layman), Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero, Jesús Méndez Montoya, Manuel Morales (layman), Justino Orona Madrigal, Sabás Reyes Salazar, José María Robles Hurtado, David Roldán Lara (layman),Toribio Romo González, Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo, David Uribe Velasco, and Tranquilino Ubiarco Robles.
Father Magallanes, your quiet witness and noble death are an inspiration to all who suffer physical violence for the faith in unknown ways and in unknown places. May your intercession and courage be an inspiration for all priests, laymen, and religious who are tempted to bend in the winds of persecution.