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It’s always something

9 June 2020

No matter what story is in the news … if you really want to find one … there’s a Mexican connection.  The news about Martin Gugino, the 75 year old Catholic Worker volunteer getting knocked down by the cops and his head injured, reminded me of another Catholic getting his head smacked by the cops.  That the Mexican guy had been what today would be called an asylum seeker and an under-the-table day laborer sorta adds to the semi-relevance of at least mentioning his story.

Pedro de Jesus Maldonalo Lucero, born in Chihuahua in 1892, was studying for the priesthood in Chihuahua, but fled ahead of the Revolution to El Paso in 1913.  The concept “legal” vs. “illegal” aliens being more flexible at the time (in the sense it didn’t exist), he could, I suppose, be considered an asylum seeker.  Whatever his status would have been today, like young Mexican before and since, he worked odd jobs, construction, house painting and the like while finishing his studies, both in Chihuahua and El Paso, being ordained at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1918.

Photo: Zenit (Spain). date unknown, ca. 1935.

Working among the Tarahumara, he doesn’t appear to have had any connection to the Cristero counter-revolution of 1926-29, which was mostly in the Bajio, although even in Chihuahua the anti-clerical state persecuted priests, trying to curb their influence over the masses.  He was beaten up more than once but … one of his major activities being attempts to control alcohol abuse among the Tarahumara, one can speculate he might have been just running afoul of economic interests in the tiny community of Santa Isabel.

For unclear reasons, Maldonaldo was arrested on 10 February 1937.  It happened to be Ash Wednesday, and he happened to be carrying a host.  A police officer took the host from Maldonaldo then smacked him in the head with the butt of a pistol.  Hard enough to break his skull (and pop out an eyeball).  He died a day later of his injuries.

Whatever the circumstances might have been, the incident was widely reported, used to undermine claims that under Lazaro Cardenas’ administration, open persecution of Catholics and priests had come to an end.  Having been said to be killed because of hatred for the Church, he is considered a martyr to the faith and his tomb became a place of pilgrimage.  He was canonized in May 2000, as one of the 24 “Cristero Martyrs”.



One Comment leave one →
  1. 9 June 2020 8:31 pm

    I very much enjoy (maybe the wrong word here) your snapshots of history which really add color and soul to life here.

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