Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara, Mexico, announced this week the beatification on Sunday, November 20, of Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, a 14 year-old Mexican who died during the persecution of the Cristeros. At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, Sanchez del Rio will be beatified together with 12 other martyrs who were part of the movement to resist the oppression of the Mexican government under Plutarco Elias Calles, during the early part of the 20th century.
Sanchez del Rio was born on March 28, 1913, and died on February 10, 1928.
His martyrdom was witnessed by two boyhood friends. One of them, Father Marcial Maciel, who went on to found the Legionnaires of Christ, revealed in his book, My Life is Christ, that Sanchez del Rio was “captured by government forces,” who demanded he “renounce his faith in Christ, under threat of death. Jose refused to accept apostasy.”
“Consequently they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery,” Father Macial wrote. “He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, ‘if you shout ‘Death to Christ the King’ we will spare your life.’ Jose Luis finally died shouting ‘Long live Christ the King’ while his assassins fired upon him.”
Likewise, the founder of the Priestly Confraternity of the Workers of the Kingdom of Christ, Father Enrique Amescua Medina, recalled that as they were accompanying him in his martyrdom, Sanchez del Rio told him to flee saying, “You will do things I will not be able to do.”
The remains of Jose Luis lie at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Sahuayo, Mexico.