Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon (Jose Sanchez del Rio)
Jose Sanchez del Rio was only thirteen when the religious persecution in Mexico broke out. He wanted to follow their footsteps, but because of his young age, the General would not allow him to join the fight. Jose begged to be allowed to be a young soldier for Christ the King. His mother, of course, objected, saying that he might be killed. “Mama, do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon,” he replied. Jose was accepted as the flag bearer of the troops and was given the nickname of “Tarcisio” after the young martyr of Rome.
In a fierce battle on February 5, 1928, the General’s horse was shot. Like a true veteran, Jose leapt off his own horse saying, “My General, take my horse and save yourself. If they kill me, I won’t be missed, but you would!” Then the young soldier crawled to a strategic position and began shooting until he used his last cartridge. He was captured and taken to his home town of Sahuayo, and put in the sacristy of the church as his jail.
One of Jose’s childhood friends, Marcial Maciel, said, “One of the windows looked out on the street and from there we could hear him sing, ‘To heaven, to heaven, to heaven I want to go,’ while awaiting his sentence. The federals were using the parish as a prison, and also as a corral. Rafael Picazo, who controlled the village of Sahuayo, put as a condition to release him that he deny his faith before Picazo himself and his soldiers. We all heard about this, and we were very worried and in a tremendously emotional and sad state. We, his friends, met together to pray for him. We cried a lot, asking the Most Holy Virgin that he not be killed but, at the same time, that he not renounce his faith. In fact, Jose wanted no part in renouncing the faith.”
In order to terrorize him, the soldiers made him watch the hanging of one of the other captured Cristeros. Jose encouraged the man, saying “Lazaro, you will be in Heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon.”
Daily, Jose recited the rosary and sang songs of faith. From prison, he wrote a beautiful letter to his mother telling her that he was resigned to the Will of God. Jose’s father attempted to ransom his son, but was unable to raise the money in time.
On February 10, 1928, Jose 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. The soldiers placed Jose beside a grave already dug for the occasion. They stabbed him with their knives, and each time he was stabbed, he cried out, “Viva Cristo Rey!” When he was asked of the words he would like to tell his father, he said, “Tell him I shall see him in heaven.” Finally, he was shot to death.