Celebrating Our Hispanic History

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2/23/2011

Mexican Martyrs Relics Tour Orange County, Calif.

Catholics throughout the Orange County area of Southern California had the opportunity to learn more about the Knights long history with Mexico and to venerate the relics of the Order’s six saints who were martyred during the bloody persecution of the Church in Mexico during the 1920s and 30s.

The tour of the relics highlights the commitment to those Catholics and Knights who endured persecution during the turbulent civil war period in Mexico in the 1920s.

The Knights were originally founded in New Haven Connecticut in 1882. Shortly thereafter, the Knights were established in Canada, and in 1905, the Order was established in Mexico and the Philippines. A few years later, Panama and Cuba were added as well.

Founded to assist Catholic immigrant families in the late nineteenth century - families that were often marginalized and discriminated against - the Knights had a natural affinity for the persecution of their fellow Catholics in Mexico, and did a great deal to bring the situation to light in the United States and to defend the rights of the Church and of Catholics in Mexico, and to help those with humanitarian assistance those displaced - especially bishops, priests and seminarians.

The work wasn’t easy. Opposing the Knights and supporting Plutarco Calles - the President of Mexico who was pursuing the persecution of the Church - were many groups in the United States including the racist and anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan, which in the late 1920s wielded enormous clout.

Helped in part by the tireless work of the Knights, the United States brought pressure on the Mexican government to end the persecution and reach an accommodation with the Church.

The relics are contained within a silver, cross-shaped reliquary that was presented to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson during his installation as supreme knight at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It was at this installation that the then new supreme knight solemnly dedicated his administration and the entire Order to the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The relics are those of Fathers Luis Batiz Sainz, Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, Mateo Correa Magallanes, Miguel de la Mora de la Mora, Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán and Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero. These six Knights were canonized in 2000. A painting and statue honoring them were dedicated at the Knights of Columbus Museum in 2005.

In 2005-06 a pilgrimage of the relics was sponsored by the Order in recognition of 100th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus in Mexico. That pilgrimage of the relics began in Mexico City, traveled to cities throughout Mexico and the United states, and concluded in Orlando, Fla., at the Knights of Columbus' 124th Supreme Convention in August 2006.