Today, May 21, we celebrate the feast day of *Christobal (Christopher) and his companions, Martyrs. Christopher was born in 1869 and died on 25 May 1927 at Colotitlan (Mexico). Parish priest, Christobal Magallanes, founder of a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, is commemorated with 21 other diocesan priests and three laymen. Martyred in Mexico, mostly in 1926-1928, during a fierce religious persecution which outlawed the celebration of the sacraments. Noted for their courageous faith, for forgiving their executioners, and for their final cry, Viva Christo Rey!
Born in Totaltiche, Jalisco, in the archdiocese of Guadalajara, Mexico, to a farming family, Christobal worked as a shepherd in his youth. He entered the seminary at 19 and became parish priest in his native parish. He was eager to spread the Gospel. He founded schools, a newspaper, catechetical centres for children and adults, carpentry shops, an electric plant to power the mills and also helped set up agricultural co-ops. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them.
When the anti-Catholic government continued persecution of Christians, Christobal wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero guerilla revolt.
St Christopher was arrested while en route to celebrate Mass on 21st May 1927 and executed without a trial. He gave away his last remaining possessions to his executioners, absolved them, and turned to his companion Fr Agustine Caloca before he was shot, said: “Be at peace, my son; just a minute and then we’re in heaven”.
Twenty-five martyrs are commemorated today. All were diocesan priests, except for three laymen who died with their parish priest. They were all Cristeros. They died in eight different Mexican states under circumstances similar to those of Frs. Magallanes. Pope Saint John Paul II beatified the group in 1992 and canonized them in 2000.
*St. Christopher and companions, pray for us*
Father Magallanes, your quiet witness and noble death are an inspiration to all who suffer physical violence for the faith in unknown ways and in unknown places. May your intercession and courage be an inspiration for all priests, laymen, and religious who are tempted to bend in the winds of persecution.