Childhood friend of Father Marcial Maciel who founded the Legionnaires of Christ and who witnessed José’s death. At age 13 the boy became a flag-bearer in the Cristero army who were fighting to remain Catholic in the face of anti-religious government decrees; his two older brothers, Macario and Miguel, were soldiers, but no one would let José become a front-line soldier as he wanted. Captured by government troops, he was imprisoned, abused, mutilated, and ordered to renouce Christianity; José refused. Martyr.
- hacked with machetes, stabbed with bayonets and finally shot on 10 February 1928 in Sahuayo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico
- interred in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sahuayo
- a bone fragment relic enshrined in the church of the Immaculate Conception, Taft, Texas
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. – Vatican beatification biography
- “Saint José Sánchez del Río“. CatholicSaints.Info. 9 February 2017. Web. 30 March 2017. <>