Relics of six priests martyred during the Mexican Cristero War of the 1920s, and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, are on display through May 24 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.The display --- part of a pilgrimage coordinated by the Knights of Columbus --- features relics of Fathers Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero, Miguel de la Mora de la Mora, Luis Batiz Sainz, Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán, and Mateo Correa Magallanes. All were martyred for their faith by the Mexican government during the religious persecution in Mexico in the early 20th century.
The martyrdom of Father Robles Hurtado is depicted in the film “For Greater Glory,” being released nationwide June 1. The Feast Day of the Mexican Martyrs is May 21.
“The Mexican martyrs help us to understand the value of living our faith in our daily lives,” said Archbishop José Gomez. “They were priests and lay people called to defend their faith, and the right to practice that faith. It is a great blessing to have the relics of these six saints with us in Los Angeles, especially for the Feast Day of the Mexican Martyrs. Their sacrifice serves as an example of the importance of religious liberty.”
“For many years, this period of history has been all but forgotten on both sides of the border,” said Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. “This year, with the release of both a major motion picture and a book on this subject, the story of the struggle for religious freedom in Mexico will begin to be told. It is our hope that the pilgrimage of these relics will remind us all of the sacrifices made on behalf of religious liberty on this continent less than 100 years ago. It is a timely reminder that --- from Ancient Rome to 1920s Mexico to today --- persecution does not stifle the faith, but emboldens it.”
During the persecution of Catholics in Mexico by President Plutarco Eliás Calles, the Knights of Columbus stood in solidarity with Catholics in Mexico, raising funds for humanitarian relief of those displaced and for the education of the American public about the horrific facts of the persecution.
The pressure brought by the Knights of Columbus and others had an effect, and in 1929 --- the United States government helped broker an agreement between the Mexican government and the Catholic Church, ending the worst of the persecution.
The relics have already visited Houston, Chicago, New York, Tucson and Phoenix and will also travel to Miami and San Antonio.