Relics of Knights of Columbus Priest Martyrs in Chicago Area this Weekend

May 04, 2012, 15:43 ET from Knights of Columbus

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The story of one of the martyrs is featured in a forthcoming feature film

CHICAGO, May 4, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Relics of six Knights of Columbus canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000 will visit the Chicago area this weekend. The relics will be on display Saturday evening and Sunday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, located at 1170 North River Road in Des Plaines.

The six priests — Fathers Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, Pedro de Jesus Maldonado Lucero, Miguel de la Mora de la Mora, Luis Batiz Sainz, Rodrigo Aguilar Aleman, and Mateo Correa Magallanes — were all martyred for their faith by the Mexican government during the religious persecution in Mexico in the early 20th century.

The martyrdom of Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado is depicted in the film For Greater Glory being released this summer.

"For many years, this period of history has been all but forgotten on both sides of the border," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "This year, with the release of both a major motion picture and a book on this subject, the story of the struggle for religious freedom in Mexico will begin to be told. It is our hope that the pilgrimage of these relics will remind us all of the sacrifices made on behalf of religious liberty on this continent less than 100 years ago. It is a timely reminder that — from Ancient Rome to 1920s Mexico to today — persecution does not stifle the faith, but emboldens it."

During the persecution of Catholics in Mexico by President Plutarco Elias Calles, the Knights of Columbus stood in solidarity with Catholics in Mexico, raising funds for humanitarian relief of those displaced and for the education of the American public about the horrific facts of the persecution. A delegation of the Knights of Columbus met with President Calvin Coolidge in 1926 to discuss ways in which the U.S. government could influence the Mexican government to end the persecution.

Despite the support of the Calles regime and its anti-Catholic policies by a number of American groups — including the Ku Klux Klan — the pressure brought by the Knights of Columbus and others had an effect, and in 1929 — the U.S. government helped broker an agreement between the Mexican government and the Catholic Church, ending the worst of the persecution.

Thousands of the faithful turned out for a previous pilgrimage of these relics in 2005 in cities around the United States — from Dallas to Philadelphia to Los Angeles. This year, the relics have already visited Houston and New York, and will also travel to Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

Relics have long been a part of Catholic devotional practice. Since the days of the Apostles, Christians have preserved and honored the physical remains of men and women recognized as saints.

The Knights of Columbus is active throughout the United States and Mexico — as well as worldwide in Asia, Europe, and throughout North America. There are more than 1.8 million members of the Knights of Columbus worldwide.

SOURCE Knights of Columbus