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Last Living Soldier in Mexico's War for Religious Freedom Dies at 103

John Burger - Aleteia
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March 12, 2016

Juan Daniel Macías Villegas took part in a popular uprising to defend the Church and religious freedom in 1920s Mexico. In recent years he was known as the last living Cristero.

Now, at 103 years old, he has died, closing the book on a historic period that has been celebrated in song, fiction, film and popular lore.

The Cristero movement also produced a good number of saints and martyrs, and next week Pope Francis will announce the date of the canonization of Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río, a youthful Cristero who was tortured and shot to death when he refused to renounce his fidelity to Christ. The Vatican announced his canonization prior to Francis’ visit to Mexico last month. During that visit, the pope met with local Jesuits, who presented him with the relics of another victim of Mexico’s religious persecution, the Jesuit priest Blessed Miguel Pro, who shouted out the Cristero rallying cry, “Viva Cristo Rey!” as guards shot him to death.

Sánchez del Río, along with Cristeros like Juan Daniel Macías Villegas, were depicted in the 2012 movie For Greater Glory, starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Eduardo Verastegui.

Macías died Feb. 18 in his hometown in the southwestern state of Jalisco. The area was a hotbed of Cristero resistance, after the government of President Plutarco Elías Calles severely restricted the Church’s activities in the 1920s.

Read the rest at Aleteia

Related: Oldest Mexican Ambrosia Acosta Terán Turned 112 Last Month (The Yucatan Times)

Photo: Alejandro Moreno/ACI via CNA

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