José Luis Sánchez Gave His Life at 14

2 Founders Witnessed Execution

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico, SEPT. 2, 2005 ( The execution of José Luis Sánchez del Río, a 14-year-old martyr who will be beatified this fall, was witnessed by two founders of ecclesial entities in the Church.

Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, and Enrique Amezcua Medina, founder of the priestly confraternity of the Laborers of the Kingdom of Christ, both met the young martyr, and are able to recount years later the heroism he exhibited.

José Luis, of Sahuayo, in the state of Michoacan, joined the Cristeros, a large group of Mexican Catholics who rose against the religious persecution of the government of Plutarco Elías Calles, a year before he was executed on Feb. 10, 1929.

A 7-year-old Marcial Maciel witnessed the martyrdom of his young friend.

José Luis «was captured by government forces, which wanted to give the civilian population that supported the Cristeros, an exemplary lesson,» said Father Maciel in the book «Christ Is My Life.»

«Under pain of death, they asked him to give up his faith in Christ. José Luis refused to apostatize. His mother was overwhelmed by sorrow and anguish, but kept encouraging her son,» he said.

«Then the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off, and he was obliged to walk through the village towards the cemetery. He wept and moaned with pain, but would not give in.»

«Hail to Christ the King!»

Father Maciel continued: «Every now and then they stopped and said: ‘If you cry out «Death to Christ the King,» we will spare your life. Say ‘Death to Christ the King!’ But he answered, ‘Hail to Christ the King!'»

Father Maciel said that at the cemetery, «before shooting him, they asked him once more if he would deny his faith. He refused and was killed right then and there. He died crying out as many other Mexicans did: ‘Hail to Christ the King!’

«These are indelible images of my memory and of the memory of the Mexican people, although often there is not much mention of it in the official history.»

Father Medina, then 9 years old, said in the biography of the confraternity he founded that he considers providential his meeting with the young martyr.

He met the child-martyr of Sahuayo and asked him if he could follow him but, seeing that he was so young, the future martyr told him: «You will do things that I will not be able to do,» which, eventually, led him to the priesthood.

The confraternity’s seminary in Salvatierra, Guanajuato, has been named Christ the King Seminary, and the boarding school was called José Luis, in honor of the future Mexican blessed.

The remains of José Luis rest in the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Sahuayo.

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