José Anacleto González Flores and eight Companions
Anacleto González Flores was born on 13 July 1888 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. He was greatly involved in social and religious activities and was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM). He taught classes in catechism, was dedicated to works of charity and wrote articles and books with a Christian spirit.
In 1922 he married María Concepción Guerrero and they had two children.
By 1926, the situation in Mexico had worsened and Anacleto, who up until this time had advocated passive, non-violent resistance, joined the cause of the National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom upon learning of the murder of four members of the ACJM.
In January 1927 guerrilla warfare spread throughout Jalisco and from his many hiding places Anacleto wrote and sent bulletins and studied major strategies.
The young man was captured on the morning of 1 April 1927 in the home of the Vargas González family, along with the two Vargas brothers. He was taken to the Colorado jail, where his torture included being hung by his thumbs until his fingers were dislocated and having the bottom of his feet slashed. He refused, however, to supply his captors with any information.
José Anacleto González Flores was condemned to death and was shot together with the Vargas González brothers and Luis Padilla Gómez on that same day, 1 April 1927.
José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez was born on 9 December 1899 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was an active member of the ACJM and worked closely with Anacleto in the activities of the League, helping in a special way poor children and youth. The young man, known to all as Luis, spent much time praying before the Blessed Sacrament and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On the morning of 1 April 1927, Luis was arrested in his home, together with his mother and one of his sisters. He was repeatedly beaten and insulted, then sentenced to execution.
After arriving at the Colorado jail, Luis met Anacleto and the others. He told Anacleto that he wanted to go to confession. But Anacleto told the young man, "No, brother, now is not the hour to confess, but to request pardon and to pardon our enemies. God is a Father and not a judge, the One who gives you hope. Your own blood will purify you".
Luis knelt down in prayer as the executioners' bullets riddled his prostrate body.
Jorge and Ramón Vargas González were born in Ahualulco de Mercado, Jalisco, Mexico. Jorge Ramón was born on 28 September 1899 and Ramón Vicente was born on 22 January 1905.
After a long day of work, Jorge would dress in overalls and ride his bicycle, accompanying Fr Lino Aguirre on the rounds of his hidden sacramental ministry to help ensure his safety.
Ramón was always concerned for the health of the poor and helped them without seeking anything in return. He was known for his joyful spirit and his strong Catholic identity.
During the persecution, the Vargas González family gave refuge to a number of priests and seminarians. Anacleto González Flores was staying with them in March of 1927.
On the morning of 1 April 1927 the secret police completely surrounded the family home, shouting: "Open the door in the name of the law!". They stormed in and arrested everyone, including the two brothers, their mother and a younger brother, Florentino.
The Vargas González family was accused of having hidden a "wanted" priest in their home and were taken to the Colorado jail.
As they were being led down the street, Ramón was able to escape unnoticed; but a little while later he turned back and rejoined the rest. When asked why he had not fled, Ramón replied: "I told myself, my mother and my brothers are prisoners; am I to run away?".
In jail, Florentino was separated from his two brothers, who were put in a cell next to Luis Padilla Gómez and Anacleto González Flores. They knew they were going to be executed. But before being killed they were interrogated and tortured, remaining silent throughout.
Taken out to be shot, the four recited the Act of Contrition. Before the bullets were fired, Ramón made the sign of the cross and Jorge held a crucifix against his chest.
When the father of the two boys learned how his sons were killed, he said: "Now I know, it is not condolences that I need, but congratulations; I have the fortune to have two sons who are martyrs".
Ezequiel married in 1904 and had 10 children. He was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and even with such a large family, always found the resources to give to the needy.
On the morning of 2 April 1927 he was arrested; he had just paid his respects to the lifeless body of Anacleto González Flores. He was questioned about the whereabouts of his two priest brothers, about his two oldest sons and the Cristeros.
Ezequiel refused to talk, so he was tortured until he was unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he expressed his pain by signing with all his might: "My Christ lives, my King lives". For this, he received more beatings until he could not utter a single sound.
The following morning, he was led at dawn with his brother Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez to the cemetery of Mezquitán, where they were both killed.
Ezequiel's wife heard the shots from her home and although she did not know that her husband was one of the victims, she gathered her children around her and said: "My children, let us recite the Rosary for these poor people who have just been shot".
Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez was born on 18 March 1880 in Magdalena, Jalisco, Mexico. He worked as a mechanic, and in 1907 he married and had 12 children.
Daily Mass was a priority for him; he was likewise very dedicated to prayer and to his family, and famous in Guadalajara for his expertise as a mechanic.
On 2 April 1927, following the assassination of Alacleto, Salvador went to pay his respects to this beloved "leader". When he returned to his garage, police officers were waiting for him.
They ordered him to come to police headquarters, allegedly to fix the chief's car; he was thus led away and cruelly tortured, even hung by his thumbs. When interrogated about the Cristeros and the whereabouts of Eduardo and José, his two priests-brothers, he said nothing.
Salvador was thrown into jail with his brother Ezequiel, and the next day they were led to their execution. When they arrived at the cemetery, Salvador asked for a lighted candle and held it in front of his chest. He cried out: "Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe! Shoot me so that I will die for God, because I love him".
Miguel Gómez Loza was born on 11 August 1888 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. From a young age he had a strong love for God and a great devotion to the Blessed Mother.
When he was 26 Miguel entered the University of Morelos where he earned a law degree, and eventually opened an office in Arandas as an attorney.
In 1915 he became a member of the ACJM, and in 1919 he established a national congress of Catholic workers to unify industry workers, commercial employees and agricultural labourers. He also worked tirelessly to defend the rights of the needy, which caused him to be arrested 59 times for organizing protests against the Government.
In 1922 Miguel married María Guadalupe Sánchez Barragán and they had three children.
Miguel joined the "National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom" in 1927, but believed in non-violence in order to resist the persecution. After the death of Anacleto, he was appointed by Catholics as Governor of Jalisco and strove by all the means at his disposal to defend liberty and justice.
By March of 1928, Miguel was living on a ranch near Atotonilco. On 21 March, federal forces who had been hunting for him discovered his whereabouts; he was executed by firing squad the same day.
Luis Magaña Servín was born on 24 August 1902 in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico. Growing up, he helped his father work in a tannery.
As a young man, Luis became a member of the ACJM. He deeply loved the Church and was interested in social questions, leading him to study Leo XIII's watershed Encyclical Rerum Novarum. He also joined the "Our Lady of Guadalupe Association", a group that united worker artisans.
Luis always treated poor and rich the same, practicing the advice of Bishop Mora y del Rio of Mexico City, to "treat your workers with love and they will never leave you".
In 1926 he married Elvira Camarena Méndez and they had two children, the second born after the death of Luis.
By January 1927 Arandas had become one of the strongholds of the government resistance. Priests went into hiding, exercising a secret ministry and travelling in disguise. Luis remained a pacifist and did not take part in the Cristeros activity; rather, he helped spiritually and materially as did most Catholics in the area.
On 9 February 1928, a group of soldiers arrested Catholics that supported active resistance against the Government. Luis was not at home when officers arrived at his door, so they arrested his younger brother instead.
When Luis learned that his brother had been taken away, he reported to the general and asked that he take the place of his brother.
"I have never been a Cristero rebel", he said, "but if you accuse me of being a Christian, then yes, that I am. Soldiers who are going to shoot me, I want to tell you that from this moment I pardon you, and I promise that on arriving in the presence of God you are the first ones for whom I will intercede. Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!".
Luis Magaña Servín was shot at 3 p.m. on 9 February 1928.
José Sánchez del Río was born on 28 March 1913 in Sahuayo, Michoacán, Mexico. Wanting to defend the faith and rights of Catholics, he followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers and asked his mother for permission to join the Cristeros. She objected, telling him that he was too young. "Mama", he replied, "do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon".
On 5 February 1928 the young boy was captured during a battle and imprisoned in the church sacristy. In order to terrorize him, soldiers made him watch the hanging of one of the other captured Cristeros. But José encouraged the man, saying, "You will be in Heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon".
In prison, he prayed the Rosary and sang songs of faith. He wrote a beautiful letter to his mother telling her that he was resigned to do God's will. José's father attempted to ransom his son, but was unable to raise the money in time.
On 10 February 1928 the teenager was brutally tortured and the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off; he was then forced to walk on salt, followed by walking through the town to the cemetery. The young boy screamed with pain but would not give in.
At times the soldiers stopped him and said, "If you shout, "Death to Christ the King', we will spare your life". But he answered: "Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!".
Once he arrived at the cemetery, José was asked once more if he would deny his faith. The 14 year old shouted out: "Long live Christ the King!", and was summarily shot.
Fr Ángel Darío Acosta Zurita was born on 13 December 1908 in Naolinco, Mexico. He was known for his athleticism and his gentle and charitable nature.
Ángel Darío was ordained a priest on 25 April 1931 and celebrated his First Mass in the city of Vera Cruz on 24 May. On 26 May he began to serve as coadjutor vicar in the Parish of the Assumption in Vera Cruz. He was very interested in children's catechesis and was dedicated to celebrating the Sacrament of Penance.
In the State of Vera Cruz a decree was promulgated known as the "Tejeda Law", which reduced the number of priests allowed in the State to end the "fanaticism of the people", as Governor Adalberto Tejeda called it. A letter was sent to all priests telling them to obey this law. Fr Darío received his letter on 21 July, remaining calm and joyful as always.
On 25 July 1931 the law took force; that same day, in the Parish of the Assumption, everything transpired as usual: children arrived for catechism lessons and people waited to go to confession.
Fr Darío had just come out of the baptistry when he was hit by the bullets, having only the time to cry out "Jesus!". He was martyred exactly three months after his priestly ordination.