St. Father Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero
The Cristeros – the Mexican Martyrs
St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero
Knights of Columbus Council 2419
Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, on June 15, 1892. When he was 17 years old, he entered the conciliar seminary of that diocese. Cheerful, friendly and kind, he is remembered by his classmates for his exemplary behavior and dedication to his studies.
The suppression of the seminary in 1914 sent him back home. With the political situation in Mexico, he left to study for the priesthood in El Paso, Texas where he was ordained on Jan. 25, 1918.
Depite the risk, he returned to Chihuahua to serve in San Nicolás de Carretas. His arrival at the parish coincided with a terrible epidemic. Without concern for his personal health, he came to the spiritual and material aid of those affected.
In January 1924, he served as parish priest of Santa Isabel in Chihuahua, where he enthusiastically took charge of the children’s Sunday school and won over the adults with songs and theatrical performances. He restored associations that had gone out of existence, founded new apostolic groups, and ignited the enthusiasm and Eucharistic piety of his parishioners.
During the religious persecution, Father Maldonado decided to remain with his own people. In 1929, President Plutarco Elías Calles accepted the so-called agreements with Mexican bishops. The churches could go back to celebrating Mass, and those known as Cristeros, who had fought to defend their rights, surrendered their weapons. However, the government did not honor the agreements and continued to persecute Catholics in various degrees in the decades that followed. In Chihuahua anticlericalism worsened starting in 1931.
In 1934, government authorities deported Father Maldonado from Santa Isabel to El Paso, Texas. Undeterred, he returned to his parish as soon as he could, establishing himself in Boquilla del Río, less than two miles from Santa Isabel. On Feb. 10, 1937, Ash Wednesday, after hearing the confessions of many churchgoers, he was captured by a group of drunk and armed men. He quickly took possession of the reliquary before his arrest. Walking barefoot and followed by a large contingent of the faithful, he was taken to Santa Isabel.
As soon as Father Maldonado was placed before the municipal mayor, the official grabbed him by the hair and hit him before taking him to see the region’s political boss, Andrés Rivera, who immediately gave him a tremendous blow to the head with his pistol fracturing the priest’s skull and dislodging his left eye from its socket. Thrown to the floor, Father Maldonado was then attacked by government henchmen. Pressing the pyx against his chest, Father Maldonado fell, soaked in his own blood. The pyx also fell, opening and revealing the hosts. One executioner recognized the hosts, picked them up and cynically ordered the priest, “Eat this!”
Hours later, a group of the faithful took him to the civil hospital in the city of Chihuahua. He died early the next morning, Feb. 11, 1937. His relics are kept in the Cathedral of Chihuahua.
Based on Canonización de Veintisiete Santos Mexicanos and the Vatican Website