.- A U.S. tour of the relics of six Knights of Columbus, canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, will conclude next month in Florida.
The six priests - Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero, Miguel de la Mora de la Mora, Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, Luis Batiz Sainz, Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán, and Mateo Correa Magallanes - were martyred for their faith by the Mexican government during the religious persecution in Mexico in the1920s.
“This pilgrimage seeks to promote knowledge of and devotion to the Knights of Columbus priest martyrs of Mexico and all those who sacrificed their lives for their faith during the Mexican persecution,” explained Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
The pilgrimage of the relics began in Mexico City in September 2005, to mark the centennial of the Knights in Mexico. The reliquary then traveled throughout Mexico, before beginning the U.S. portion of the pilgrimage March 18th, with a procession to the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas, where a special mass was celebrated.
The relics are currently near Tucson, Arizona and will be moving next to the Chicago area and then on to New York. The pilgrimage will conclude in Orlando at the Knights convention in August.
The 1920’s brought a revolution to Mexico, along with the widespread persecution of Catholics. Missionaries were expelled from the country, Catholic seminaries and schools were closed, and the Church was forbidden to own property. Priests and laymen were told to denounce Jesus and their faith in public; if they refused, they faced torture and death.
During this time, the Knights did not retreat in Mexico but grew dramatically, from 400 members in 1918 to 43 councils and 6,000 members just five years later. The Mexican government eventually outlawed the order.
The Knights of Columbus website reports that thousands of men, many of whom were Knights, would not bow to these threats or renounce their faith, and they often paid with their lives. They took a stand when that was the most difficult thing they could do, and their courage and devotion have echoed down through the decades, the website says.