This Saturday, 21st May, is the (optional) Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes and his 24 Companions, the Martyrs of Mexico (1915 – 1937). The canonised 25 are a small proportion of the total Christian martyrs in 20th-century Mexico. Magallanes (b. 1869) came from a very poor family. In 1888, he entered the seminary at Guadalajara and was ordained a priest in 1899. In 1910, he became parish priest of Totalice, where he cared for the temporal as well as the spiritual needs of his poverty stricken flock, building a dam to improve water supply and enabling peasants to buy small plots of land; he also built schools and catechetical centres. Completely dedicated to non-violent means, he became caught up in a battle between the rebel Cristeros and the government troops. In 1927 he was arrested, and having been accused of supporting the uprising, was shot four days later. He died protesting his innocence, hoping that his blood would serve to bring peace to divided Mexicans. His assistant priest was also arrested and shot at the same time, along with a number of others. In 1926, a priest and three laymen were travelling to Zacatecas, when their car was stopped along the road; they were ordered out and shot. Others clergy and lay people suffered in 1928 and the last in 1937. Many were priests of native Mexican descent; others were people closely involved in the apostolate, during a time when it was extremely difficult to practice the Catholic faith under successive anti-clerical governments. One of the features of the Mexican martyrdoms was the apparent absence of any proper legal trials; suspicions were taken as facts and soldiers were allowed to kill without proper verification. The Mexican martyrs were canonised together in the year 2000.