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St. Mateo Correa Magallanes

Knights of Columbus Council 2140

Zacatecas, México

Mateo Correa Magallanes was born in Tepechitlan, Zacatecas, on July 23, 1866. Although he had scarce economic resources, he began his elementary school studies in Jerez, Zacatecas, and concluded them in 1879 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, thanks to the generosity of benefactors. He left the capital of Jalisco in January 1881 to enroll in the conciliar seminary of Zacatecas.

Ordained as a priest on Aug. 20, 1893, he served in many places: at the Hacienda of Mezquite; at the Hacienda of Trujillo; as chaplain of San Miguel, in Valparaiso, Zacatecas; as assistant vicar in the same place; and as chaplain of Mazapil, Zacatecas. He served as parish priest in Concepcion del Oro, Zacatecas; Colotlan, Jalisco; Noria de los Angeles, Zacatecas; Huejucar, Jalisco; Guadalupe, Zacatecas; and Tlaltenango, Zacatecas. In 1923, he returned to Colotlan where he was also vice-rector of the conciliar seminary.

A well-known priest, he dedicated himself to his ministry with enthusiasm. He was also a notable preacher, moving many to the sacrament of confession with his words. His enthusiasm led to the growth of the committees of the Catholic Association of Mexican Youth (ACJM in Spanish) in that region.

Overworked and needing refuge, he agreed to stay in a house in the country in December 1926. The following January 30, Father Correa was arrested by a group of federal army soldiers, under the orders of Jose Contreras and based on an accusation by Jose Encarnacion Salas. Taken to Fresnillo, Zacatecas, he was held at the police station and later in the municipal jail. Four days later, he was sent to Durango.

On February 5, Father Correa was jailed at the conciliar seminary which had been transformed into a military headquarters. Hours later, he appeared before General Eulogio Ortiz who ordered him to hear the confessions of rebels who were sentenced to die. After complying with the order and encouraging the condemned men to die honorably, the general ordered him to violate the sacramental seal and reveal matters that were divulged during the confessions. “I will never do that,” was the priest’s response. When the infuriated general threatened to shoot him, Father Correa responded “You may do so, but you ignore the fact, General, that a priest must keep the secret of confession. I am ready to die.”

At dawn the next day, February 6, a group of soldiers took him to the eastern graveyard. Before entering, in a lonely spot covered with grass, the priest was killed in a hail of bullets. The soldiers abandoned his body, which remained there for three days without burial. Today his relics are kept in the Cathedral of Durango.

Based on Canonización de Veintisiete Santos Mexicanos