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St. José María Robles Hurtado

Knights of Columbus Council 1979

Guadalajara, México

Born in Mascota, Jalisco, on May 3, 1888, José María Robles Hurtado knew ever since he was young how to unite an extraordinary intellectual lucidity with a virtuously humble spirit. A brilliant student of the Guadalajara conciliar seminary which he entered in 1900, he became a deacon and was entrusted with the post of vice-rector of the institution. He worked as a missionary in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, before being ordained in Guadalajara on March 22, 1913.

A minister of a notable moral and spiritual nature, he exercised his ministry with great zeal and edification. During his life, he promoted devotion to the Eucharist, the Holy Virgin and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, even establishing the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Guadalajara at the age of 25.

In 1920, he became parish priest of Tecolotlán, Jalisco, where he deployed a number of initiatives in favor of the common good in that town: schools, a hospital, an asylum, workers’ circles, and his religious congregation. When public religious services were suspended, he remained at the front of his parish, hidden in private homes. If anyone suggested that he flee, he would answer: “A pastor never abandons his sheep.”

On March 18, 1926, the Jalisco state government published a decree requiring all priests serving in churches to be registered and authorized by civil authorities. Archbishop Francisco Orozco y Jiménez urged priests to stay in their parishes, but not to register. Father Robles complied and preached openly against this movement of secularism.

On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dec. 12, 1926, the mayor sent word to Father Robles that an order had been issued for his arrest and that he ought to go into hiding. He did for a while, but he emerged briefly after the new year to lead a rededication of the hilltop cross in Tecolotlán on the monument’s one-year anniversary. 

During the last months of his life, he provided admirable examples of virtue, dedicating himself to study and prayer. As he himself would say, the Holy Mass and the constant adoration of the Holy Sacraments were the center of his life. Even in such difficult circumstances, he kept the Christian spirit of his parishioners alive until June 25, 1927. On that day, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Father Robles was preparing to celebrate a private Mass when he heard a knock on his door. He opened it immediately, identified himself and submitted to arrest.

The neighbors tried all possible legal recourses to obtain his freedom, including a federal injunction, without success. When the chief of military operations in the state of Jalisco, General Jesus Maria Ferreira, found out about the capture, he gave the order to act against the priest. Since the legal injunction protected the life of the prisoner within the jurisdiction of Tecolotlán, the executioners decided to take him elsewhere. Close to midnight, a detachment took him on the Ameca, Jalisco road. As they passed by the village of Quila, at the foot of an ancient oak, the militiamen called a halt. Before being executed, Father Robles kneeled down to pray, blessed his parishioners, pardoned and blessed his executioners, kissed the rope, and put it around his neck so no one would be blamed for his execution. His relics are kept in the general house of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Guadalajara.

Based on Canonización de Veintisiete Santos Mexicanos