Relic called reminder of Cristero martyr’s courage in preaching Gospel

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Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, N.M., right, holds a special devotion to Mexican martyr St. Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, who was killed in Jalisco during the Cristero Rebellion. St. Jose, sometimes referred to as the “Madman of the Sacred Heart,” is depicted at left in a detail from a painting by Mexican artist Martha Orozco. (CNS)

GALLUP, N.M. (CNS) — When the Gallup Diocese acquired a first-class relic of a martyred saint of the Mexican Cristero Rebellion, Bishop James S. Wall knew it was a spiritual intervention.

In April, the diocese received a relic from the body of St. Jose Maria de Robles Hurtado, a priest martyred in 1927 in Jalisco, Mexico, during the Cristero Rebellion.

One of 25 Cristero martyrs canonized by Pope John II in May 2000, St. Jose is known as “The Madman of the Sacred Heart,” because he promoted greater devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through his preaching, his personal example and his great devotion to the Eucharist.

That connection could not be more appropriate for the diocese, Bishop Wall said.

“Our cathedral is named after the Sacred Heart,” he said. “There’s a reason why we got this special gift.”

The relic was a gift from Cardinal Jose Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico. Bishop Wall had it placed in a marble plate inserted in the altar of his private chapel to be venerated each time he says Mass there.

“I come in to pray here around 5:15 a.m. every day seeking the intercession of St. Jose,” Bishop Wall said. “He had the courage to proclaim the light of the Gospel, which is so important in the world that has been darkened by secularism.”

Some months before the cardinal’s gift arrived, Bishop Wall began working with the Gallup Knights of Columbus to try to locate a relic from one of the Cristero martyrs, many of whom were Knights. The bishop himself is a fourth-degree Knight.

Work began with the Knights officials at the organization’s headquarters in Connecticut. Ten months later, the diocesan officials learned they would receive the relic from St. Jose, who was hanged after being found saying Mass in the home of a family who was hiding him.

But you could say the quest for such a relic began after Bishop Wall’s installation in Gallup three years ago. He began renovation on the chapel in his private residence, using a Southwest decor of soft plastered wall