Christ the King Has a Special Place in Guanajuato

Mexico Readies for the Vicar of Christ

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By Paloma Rives, Special Correspondent

GUANAJUATO, Mexico, MARCH 20, 2012 ( The origin of this special place began with a Mass in 1919. Fifty-three years later, on March 25, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI will reaffirm the faith that succeeded in building this monument which is over 20 meters (65 feet) high. The history of the Christ of “El Cubilete” is, without a doubt, a history of obstacles as well as perseverance.

In November of 1919 Bishop José Guadalupe Albino Emeterio Valverde Tellez, of León Guanajuato, made a pastoral visit to Silao, Guanajuato, and while staying in the church of the Lord of Forgiveness he contemplated “El Cubilete” hill, and wished to celebrate Mass at its summit. 

After Bishop Valverde Tellez celebrated the Mass, Father Eleuterio of Mary Most Holy – a Carmelite priest – suggested the laying of a commemorative stone. However, Felipe Bravo, thought a monument would be better, on which the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should be placed. Bishop Valverde was delighted with the idea. He laid the first stone on March 12 and on April 11 of 1920 he presided over its dedication.

The Mexican bishops designated it as a national monument and requested that it be replaced by a bigger statue, which was approved on October 10, 1920, on the day that Mexico celebrated the silver anniversary of the Crowning of the Most Holy Virgin of Guanajuato.

“El Cubilete” hill is 2,579 meters (8,460 feet) above sea level and is at the exact geographic center of the Mexican Republic.

Work on the second monument began in 1923, but its construction was interrupted, as this was one of the most difficult periods of the Cristero War. The erection of a statue honoring Christ the King was considered anti-Constitutional and a challenge to the government. It was dynamited on January 30, 1928.

After several attempts, constant struggles and moments of despair, on December 11, 1944, Bishop Valverde blessed and laid the first stone of the by then fifth monument. On the same day he blessed the Expiatory Hermitage, which was built on the site where the first statue was dynamited, in reparation for the sacrilege.

The monument to Christ the King has two parts: a basilica in the shape of a sphere which symbolizes the universe and, standing on it, the statue of Christ the King with two angels offering him two crowns: of martyrdom and royalty. The statue, Hellenic in style, is the work of Monterrey sculptor Fidias Elizondo, and symbolizes the divine royalty of Christ, Lord of the universe.

When Bishop Valverde died (1948) the work was well under way and Bishop Manuel Martín del Campo Padilla continued it. On December 11, 1950, he blessed the statue on behalf of His Holiness Pius XII. That day was the 25th anniversary of Pius XI’s encyclical Quas Primas, establishing the universal feast of Christ the King.

The blessing of the monumental monstrance, true throne of the Eucharistic Christ the King, took place on April 20, 1960.

History shows us that this is a special place for Christ the King. From on high, with his arms outstretched, he will shelter the Successor of Saint Peter and the thousands of persons of good will who will receive the messenger of peace there, Benedict XVI.

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