A special reliquary commissioned by the Knights of Columbus was present at a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in Mexico on
Sunday, March 25. It contains relics of 25 saints and 13 blesseds — including six saints and three blesseds who were members of the Order
— who were martyred during the persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1920s.
The Mass took place at the Bicentenario Park at Cubilite Hill, better known as the Mountain of Christ the King. Located in the state of Guanajuato, the site marks the geographic center of Mexico and is
strongly tied to the country’s religious history.
The Knights of Columbus in Mexico requested and received permission from the Mexican bishops responsible for preserving and
guarding the relics of each martyr in order to display the first-degree relics. Archbishop José Guadalupe Martín Rabago of León, Mexico,
chaplain of Diez de Sollano Council 3566, served as host of the papal event and allowed the reliquary to be present at the papal Mass.
During his Angelus address following Mass, Pope Benedict said that the martyrs, “in crying out ‘Long live Christ the King and Mary of
Guadalupe,’ bore unyielding witness of fidelity to the Gospel and devotion to the Church.”
Agustin Parra of Guadalajara, Mexico, designed the handcrafted wooden reliquary, which is covered with gold leaf. At its top sits a statue of Christ the King similar to the bronze statue at the shrine on Cubilete
Hill. On the doors of the reliquary are images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and of Christ during his passion.
Inside the reliquary, between Salomonic columns with palm branches woven around them, are the relics of the martyred saints, who were canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. The inside of the doors
hold the relics of the martyrs beatified by Benedict XVI in 2005 and feature their battle cries: “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!)
and “¡Viva Santa María de Guadalupe!” (Long live Holy Mary of Guadalupe!). The martyrs’ names are written in dark red to evoke the
blood they shed for their faith. At the bottom of the reliquary is the Latin phrase “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat” (Christ
conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands).
A pilgrimage of the new reliquary throughout North America is currently being planned.