Sahuayo, Mexico: Tomb of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio in Saint James Church
About the Cristero War:
During the 1920’s, the Mexican government, taken over by Marxists, persecuted the Church…destroying churches and monasteries, killing priests, and doing everything possible to wipe out Christianity. As a result, many took up arms against the government, in what became known as the “Cristero War“. Their battle cry was “Viva Cristo Rey” (long live Christ the King).
About Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio:
From a young age, Jose had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged his friends to have more devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady of Guadalupe. His older brothers had joined the Cristero army, and he wished to follow them. But his mother was naturally reluctant, and in fact, his request was initially refused by the officers due to his young age.
Not one to give up, Jose wrote a letter to one of the Cristero Generals, Prudencio Mendoza, pleading to be allowed to fight. The general acquiesced. He was allowed to be a flag bearer….then, during a battle, the General’s horse was shot dead beneath him. Without hesitation, young Jose gave the general his horse in its place. Soon after, Jose was captured by the Federalists and locked up in a church sacristy.
One of the guards had put a number of expensive fighting roosters inside the church for safekeeping. This sacrilege troubled young Jose. He said: “This is not a barnyard! This is a place for God!” He soon caught all the prized roosters and snapped their necks.
It was after that the Federalists decided to have him executed, but not before trying to get him to recant. The soldiers struck him savagely with sharp machetes, sliced the soles of his feet and made him to walk on salt; and still he cried out, “Viva Cristo Rey”. They offered to spare him if he said “Death to Christ the King”, but he never faltered. He was then bayonetted several times…but continued the same cry. With almost all strength gone, he took some blood from his body and made the sign of the Cross in the dirt. Finally, on February 10, 1928, the enraged commander shot him on the spot. He was 14 years old.
He was declared Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on November 20, 2005 and proclaimed a Saint by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016. His Feast Day is February 10.
He is featured in the video “For Greater Glory”. We recommend the book by Fr. Kevin William McKenzie, L.C.
About the Tomb of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio:
You will find the church with his tomb here in Sahuayo. There is a likeness of his body on the tomb….but his body is not incorrupt as some have mistakenly reported.
Address: Calle José María Morelos, Centro Uno, 59000 Sahuayo de Morelos, Mich., Mexico
GPS coordinates: 20° 3′ 7.9164” N, 102° 43′ 16.8024” W
Tel: +52 353 532 0238
Click here for the official website for the Church of St James the Apostle.
Also, there is a shrine to him in the place where he was shot in the town cemetery. We were not able to find the exact location on the map, but here is a great video about a visit to the site.
Click here to read a story about the Miracle that led to his Sainthood