“José Sánchez del Río was born on 28 March 1913 in Sahuayo, in the State of Michoacán, Mexico. At the outbreak of the so-called “Cristero War” in 1926, his brothers joined the rebel forces fighting the violent anti-Christian regime which had been established in the country. José too was enlisted. Catholicism flourished in Sahuayo and for this reason the “Cristeros” were deeply rooted in the area. Priests secretly remained in Sahuayo throughout the persecution and never abandoned the faithful, clandestinely celebrating the Eucharist and administrating the sacraments, at which young José assiduously participated.
“In those years, the first Christian martyrs were often spoken of and many young people wanted to follow in their footsteps. During a violent battle on 25 January 1928, José was captured and brought to his city of birth, where he was imprisoned in the parish church which had already been desecrated and laid waste by federalists. It was suggested that he flee in order to avoid being sentenced to death, but he refused.
“While in prison, in an effort to make José renounce his faith to save himself, he was tortured and forced to watch the hanging of another boy who had been imprisoned with him. The soles of his feet flayed, José was made to walk to the cemetery where, positioned in front of the grave prepared for him, he was shot, but not mortally, and asked again to renounce the faith. But José, with every wound inflicted, cried out: “Long live Christ the King! Long live our Lady of Guadalupe!” In the end he was shot and executed. It was 10 February 1928, and he was nearly fifteen years old. Three days before he had written to his mother: “Trust in God’s will. I die happy because I am dying next to our Lord.” In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI beatified José.
The feast day is February 10th.
Saint José Sánchez del Río’s body is incorrupt. Given that he died more than 80 years ago at the age of 14, that the mortal remains are free from any sign of decomposition is a minor but not insignificant miracle.
Pope Francis canonized del Rio today, Sunday, October 16, 2016.
May Saint José Sánchez del Río’s love of Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe be a sign for us today.