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Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Saint José Boy Cristero Martyr - Fr. Kevin McKenzie

Saint José: Boy Cristero Martyr
Vision Books
Fr. Kevin McKenzie
John Herreid (Illustrator)
Ignatius Press
ISBN 9781621642428
eISBN 9781642290769
ASIN B07RXM7NQ9



I picked this book up to read because my interest in this saint was sparked by the novel Nicholas Gilroy: Viva Christo Rey, written by Father Stephen Gemme and Deacon George O’Connor. After a brief encounter with stories about Saint Jose in that story I had to read more about the saint. And this book did not disappoint. I have picked up a few other books from the Vision Books series on the lives of saints. But have not got around to reading them yet. But after how much I benefited from reading this story, they have jumped way up in my to be read list. But back to this book about Saint Jose.

I need to state first that this is a new and revised version of a book originally published as Blessed Jose: Boy Cristero Martyr. Doing a side by side comparison the books are very similar. A few chapter titles are changed, and some chapters in the original are combined as sections in the current edition. But there are enough differences that you could read both versions, because of changes of wording. But most readers will settle for reading one or the other.

I can understand while there is such devotion to this saint in Mexico, and among those of Mexican heritage. I do not know how any Catholic could read this story and not be inspired. Or be encouraged in the small trials and issues they experience in their lives. The author shares how he experienced the story of Saint Jose in the sixth grade. That story by a visiting teacher he states:

“he told us the story of a Mexican boy who was martyred for his faith and never stopped shouting, “Long live Christ the King!” When I heard about this fourteen-year-old boy, explosions went off in my twelve-year-old heart. If José could give his life for God, then I could do something for God too.”

Father McKenzie also states:

“When I looked for more about José, I couldn’t find a single book about him in English. That was 1993. In 2004, I decided it was time for me to put his story in writing. This book is the result of ten years of research, during which time I obtained copies of what I believe to be every historical document ever written about José.”

This volume is that book. It is the story of José Luis Sánchez del Río who at the age of 14 died because of his love for God, and for his faithful devotion the Catholic church. He died a martyr because he would not renounce his faith. He was condemned by his own god father, who was a politician, and mayor and was trying to size power. He died even though his father sold everything he had to ransom his life. It is the story of incredible devotion and bravery. And the story reads like an adventure novel, a case of truth being even better than fiction.

An excellent read. If you only have a passing knowledge of this saint, I strongly encourage you to read this book.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Father Kevin McKenzie:
Saint José: Boy Cristero Martyr
Blessed Jose: Boy Cristero Martyr

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The Theodore Books:
The Adventures of Theodore
The Return of Theodore

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