Feast Day: May 21
Canonized: May 21, 2000
Beatified: November 22, 1992
Venerated: March 7, 1992
Cristóbal Magallanes was born in 1869 in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara. His parents, Rafael Magallanes and Clara Jara, were poor farmers and devout Catholics. Growing up on a farm, young Cristóbal worked as a shepherd but felt called to look after human “sheep.” At the age of 19 he entered the seminary and was ordained a priest when he was 30.
He taught school in Guadalajara for a time until returning to his home village of Totatiche to minister as a parish priest for nearly two decades. There he also opened a carpentry business to provide jobs for local men and helped to plan and construct a dam to aid the people of the area. But Father Magallanes was most interested in bringing the Catholic faith to those who had not heard the Good News of Jesus, in this case the Huichol people in the region.
During this time in Mexico’s history, the government feared the power of the Catholic Church, and it tried to eliminate the practice of the faith. A constitution even banned the training of priests, and the seminary where young Cristóbal had studied was closed and turned into a museum. So in 1915 Father Magallanes opened his own small seminary in Totatiche and soon had more than a dozen students.
The government did not look kindly on this kind of behavior and accused the priest of trying to incite rebellion, even though he preached against violence of any kind. He was on his way to celebrate Mass when he was arrested. Without a trial, he was convicted. He gave away his few possessions to his jailers, and on May 21, 1927, he and 21 other priests and three lay Catholics were executed. His last words to his executioners were, “I die innocent, and ask God that my blood may serve to unite my Mexican brethren.”
He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 21, 2000.