Category Archives: History of Mexico

#268 – Las Brigadas Femeninas

Las Brigadas Femeninas de Santa Juana de Arco were instrumental in the successes of the Cristeros in their war against the government of Mexico. These women faced arrest, imprisonment, and even the opposition from some within the Catholic Church as they struggled for religious freedom.

Links:
Article on the Cristeros
Wikipedia has a brief article on Las Brigadas in English

Sources:
Miller, Sr. Barbara. “The Role of Women in the Mexican Cristero Rebellion: Las Señoras y Las Religiosas”. The Americas. 40, no. 3. 303-323.
Miller, Sr. Barbara. “Women and Revolution: The Brigadas Femeninas and the Mexican Cristero Rebellion, 1926-1929.” In Women and Politics in Twentieth Century Latin America. Williamsburg: College of William and Mary, 1981. 57-66.
Salas, Elizabeth. Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History. University of Texas, 1990.

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podcasticon#268 – Las Brigadas Femeninas

#248 – Retablos

The tradition and devotion of the Retablos show the common desire of Catholics to have physical and visual expressions of their faith. They also show how different cultures adopt these devotionals to express their own particular culture.

Links:
Example of Mexican and New Mexican Retablos
Examples of Peruvian Retablos
Example of a Spanish Retablos
Image of Peruvian Retablo by Patty Mooney

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podcasticon#248 – Retablos

Today in Catholic History – Grito de Dolores

On 16 September 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered the Grito de Dolores, the Cry of Dolores, which would begin the Mexican War of Independence.

At 6:00 am, Fr. Hidalgo ordered the ringing of church bells to call the Mexican people to revolt against the Spanish authorities. He said, “My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines!”

Four days later, the first major battle of the revolution took place but Mexico would not obtain independence until 27 September 1821.

The people of Mexico continue to celebrate the 16th of September as Independence Day. Each year on the night of the 15th, the President of Mexico rings a bell and issues a cry of patriotism based on the Grito de Dolores. On the 16th, a parade in Mexico City passes a monument dedicated to Fr. Hidalgo.

Today in Catholic History – The End of the Cristero War

On 27 June 1929, the bells of the Catholic churches in Mexico rang for the first time in almost three years, marking the end of the Cristero War.

The Cristero War or Cristiada in Mexico lasted from 1926 to 1929, during which the Catholic population fought against the policies of religious persecution enforced by the anti-clerical Mexican government. These policies of religious persecution, included within the 1917 Mexican Constitution, confiscated the property of the Catholic Church and prohibited further acquisition of property, closed Catholic primary schools and caused some to prohibit even religious education in churches, banned religious orders and religious activity outside churches, required all religious activity be overseen by the government, limited the number of priests and deprived clergy of the right to vote or criticize the government. The Catholics opposed to the government considered themselves soldiers for Christ and so took the name Cristeros.

Opposition to the anti-Catholic policies began with the formations of various national organizations and then progressed to a decision by the bishops of Mexico to suspend all public worship in Mexico and to begin an economic boycott of the government. However, the resistance which until this time had been mostly non-violent became much stronger after the August 1926 siege of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Guadalajara which left many dead including the parish priest and his vicar. This would be followed by several armed uprisings throughout Mexico.

The Cristero War officially began on 1 January 1927 with the manifesto A la Nación (To the Nation). Which declared that the time of battle had begun and a rebellion exploded in the state of Jalisco. The Cristeros began capturing various towns and villages while shouting: ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! (“Long live Christ the King! Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe”).

With the assistance of the United States, a peace agreement was established on 21 June 1929 that allowed worship to resume in Mexico, permitted religious education in the churches and allowed clergy to petition for legal reform. Also the Catholic Church regained its property rights. With this agreement the Bishops called for an end to the rebellion and threatened rebels with excommunication. This, in turn, led the rebellion to die out.

At its end, almost 90,000 people had died during the rebellion. As of 2009, the anticlerical provisions of the Constitution remain although they are no longer enforced. Several of the Catholics killed during this period have been canonized, most famously is Miguel Pro, SJ.

For more on the Cristero War