José Sánchez del Río was born in Sahuayo, Michoacan, 28 March 1913. He was murdered on 10 February 1928, during Mexico's religious persecution known as The Cristero War. I remember hearing this particular story from Fr. Maciel. I was reminded of the details when this "saint of the day" posting:
The Cristeros were a large group Mexican Catholics opposing the repressive regime of Plutarco Elías Calles.
A year before his martyrdom, José Luis joined the army of Cristero General Prudencio Mendoza, based in the town of Cotija, Michoacan.
The martyrdom of José Luis was witnessed by two children, one of them was seven years and the other nine. Both of these children founded religious congregations. One of them is Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
Maciel said the testimony of his friend Jose Luis influenced his vocation. I remember him telling us "Jose Luis was captured by government forces. They wanted to make an example of him to frighten Cristero supporters. They asked him to renounce his faith in Christ, on pain of death. Jose did not accept. His mother, "filled with anguish encouraged her son."
How could I forget the following graphic detail, which of course inspired us to soldier on for Christ: "They cut the skin on the soles of Jose's feet and forced him to walk through the town toward the cemetery "
Jose cried out with the pain, but he persevered. Occasionally the soldiers stopped and said, "If you shout 'Death to Christ the King'" we will spare your life. "Say 'Death to Christ the King'."
Jose replied: "Viva Cristo Rey" (Long live Christ the King!.)
When they reached the cemetery, before shooting him, they gave him one last chance to deny his faith. He refused. They shot him. He died, uttering one last cry of "Viva Cristo Rey!"
The other child witness was the nine year old Enrique Amezcua Medina, founder of the Priestly Confraternity of the Operators of the Kingdom of Christ, with houses of studies in Mexico, Spain and operations in several other countries.
The remains of little Jose Luis rest in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in his hometown. He was beatified on 20 November 2005 in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. People have given him the title of "The Martyr of Sahuayo" and "The Martyr of Christ the King."