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Saint Christopher Magallanes

Feast Day: May 21

Christopher (Cristóbal) Magallanes (1869-1927), priest, missionary and teacher, was martyred during the Cristero War – the three-year resistance of the Mexican people against the government’s effort to suppress the expression of faith and limit the power of the Church in the 1920s. Though Father Magallanes preached against armed violence, he was arrested on his way to say Mass and executed on charges of inciting rebellion. His final acts were to comfort and forgive. He reassured Father Agustin Caloca, who was executed with him, “Calm down, son, just a moment and then heaven.”

He was born in 1869 in Totatiche, Jalisco, a state in southwestern Mexico. Christopher worked as a shepherd before enrolling in the seminary in Guadalajara at the age of 19.

After ordination in 1899, Christopher became the chaplain of the School of Arts and Works of the Holy Spirit in Guadalajara before being assigned to serve his home parish in Totatiche. As a pastor, he was zealous in his efforts to educate and minister to the local people by schools and trade shops for carpentry. In his efforts to share the Gospel with the indigenous people of the area, he founded a mission in Azqueltan.

In 1914, the Mexican Government decreed that all religious schools were to be closed, including the seminary in Guadalajara, the seat of the diocese. To ensure that seminarians could continue their preparation for the priesthood, Father Magallanes opened the Auxiliary Seminary of Totatiche, and enrolled 17 students.

As the suppression of the faith became more severe, the Mexican people resisted. Though the government forbade any gathering for religious celebrations and closed all religious schools, Father Magallanes continued to say Mass, teach and promote devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He was arrested on his way to say Mass on May 21, 1927, and was executed four days later. Before dying, Saint Christopher Magallanes absolved his executioners and gave them his remaining possessions. He was canonized with 24 other martyrs of the Cristero War in 2000 by St. John Paul II.