“My dear mother,
I was taken prisoner in combat today. I believe I will die soon, but nothing matters, mamá. Resign yourself to the will of God. I die very happy, because I die in the ranks of God. Do not worry about my death, which is my mortification.”
These were some of the last words of Saint José Sanchez del Río, written in a letter from his prison shortly before his death.
Another final letter to his aunt closed with the words, “Christ lives, Christ reigns, Christ rules, along with the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe. — José Sánchez del Río, who died in defense of the faith.”
The young boy was offered several opportunities to escape his fate, needing only reject the Cristero cause. But the 14 year-old, sustained by his strong faith and love for Jesus and Mary, would not be swayed.
The torture the soliders submitted him to would not keep him from his glorious martyrdom. Even after beating him, throwing insults at him, and cutting the soles of his feet and making him walk for hours to his own grave, he would not cease his cry, Long live Christ the King! Viva Cristo Rey!
The captain then shot José in the head, and the young boy entered into eternal life.
Many have come to know the story of the young martyr through his depiction in the 2012 film For Greater Glory. You can catch a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of the film above: the storyboard for the final sequence of the film, the martyrdom of José Sánchez del Río.
The storyboard, designed by Manuel de Teffé, is set to the music of the Italian master Gabriele Croci.