St. Christopher Magallanes

Known in his life as Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, St. Christopher Magallanes was arrested on his way to celebrate Mass and killed shortly after without trial on May 25, 1927. He and the other Saints of the Cristero War were canonized for facing death after continuing their ministry during the Mexican government's suppression of religion via anticlerical laws such as outlawing wearing priest's garments in public or priests speaking out against the government.

25 martyrs of the Cristero war were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, all sharing the same feast day of May 21. Pope Benedict XVI declared several more Blessed in 2005, with the shared feast day of November 20, the anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution. Pope Francis canonized one more, José Sánchez del Río in 2016, a boy of 14 who was tortured and killed by his government for refusing to deny his faith. His feast day is February 10.

Lifetime: 1869 to 1927
Region: Jalisco, Mexico
Patronages: Cancer
Iconograpy: Cassock; Bible; Palm of Martyrdom
Feast Day: May 21

Christopher Magallanes grew up a shepherd in the Jalisco state of western Mexico. He entered seminary at 19 to pursue priesthood. He was ordained at 30 and became a chaplain at a school for a while, until he was assigned as a diocesan priest at his home parish.

During his tenure as priest, Christopher founded schools and carpentry shops, and helped evangelize to a local indigenous group. But when the government closed the seminary, his passion for formation had to take a more surreptitious turn. He opened a clandestine seminary out of his parish, approved by his Archbishop, and with several other instructors, took in 17 seminarian students.

In his public role as a parish priest, Christopher spoke out actively against the way the government was oppressing people of faith, but also against his own people taking up arms in rebellion, which was becoming an increasingly common tactic of opposing the government's oppression.

Nonetheless, Christopher was arrested for inciting an armed rebellion. While imprisoned, he gave his few possession to his soon-to-be executioners, and in his dying words, absolved them of his murder without trial only four days after his arrest. His last words were:

"I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren."

Killed alongside Christopher was his friend Agustín Caloca Cortés, the prefect of Christopher's secret seminary. He was arrested while helping the seminary students flee after government soldiers learned of the school. The two were reunited in prison.

Because he was only 29, a guard offered to free Agustin, but he refused unless they would also release Christopher. Both were executed by firing squad. Agustin's last words were:

"We live for God and for Him we die."

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