"Jesus will bear witness to us if we take up being his witnesses, the disciples who bear witness to him," he assured.
The cardinal stressed that "the testimony of the martyrs endures," while people do not necessarily remember “the names of the people who inflicted, who carried out the martyrdom.”
The testimony of the martyrs, however, "is not extinguished" and "is not forgotten."
Saint José Sánchez del Río was born March 28, 1913 in Sahuayo, in Michoacán state.
In 1926 under the administration of Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles the “Calles Law” was enacted restricting Catholic worship, which began the religious persecution that triggered the Cristero War.
The laws banned religious orders, deprived the Church of property rights, and denied priests civil liberties, including the right to trial by jury and the right to vote. As the restrictions on religious liberty increased, Catholics could be fined or imprisoned for teaching Church doctrine, wearing clerical attire, meeting together after their convents were disbanded, promoting religious life, or holding religious services in non-church locations.
José Sánchez del Río asked his parents for permission to enlist with the Cristero troops, who were fighting for religious freedom in Mexico. When his mother tried to dissuade him because of the risk of being killed, he replied, "Mom, it has never been so easy to earn heaven as it is now, and I don't want to miss the chance."
After being captured by government troops, Sánchez was tortured Feb. 10, 1928, for refusing to renounce the faith.
The officers cut off the soles of his feet and made him walk towards what would become his grave. As he walked, Saint José Sánchez del Río prayed and shouted "Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!" Once at the place of execution, the government troops hung him from a tree and stabbed him.
Shortly before he died, when one of his executioners took him down from the tree and asked him if he had a message for his parents, Saint Jose told him: "Long live Christ the King and that we will see each other in heaven." He was then shot twice in the head, laid in a small grave, and covered with dirt.
He was beatified in 2005, and canonized Oct. 16, 2016.
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