48-page book on the life and times of Saint Toribio Romo (whose
relic is in the Cathedral altar) is being released this week
by Liguori Press. Written by Msgr. James Murphy, the booklet
describes the murder of Toribio Romo on February 25 1928, in
Tequila Mexico where federal troops shop him in his bed.
The booklet is an interesting
read for anyone who is unaware of what Mexican Catholics suffered
south of our border not so many years ago. It is of particular
interest to Northern California Catholics because some 300 of
the saint’s relatives live in the Sacramento area.
Looking through the eyes of this simple country priest, the booklet
describes the turbulent twenties in Mexico when state governors
went around confiscating
church property, forbidding the teaching of religion, and doing whatever they
could to terrorize “the dismal Catholic clergy” and their “fanatical
followers.” In some places, agents of the government burned statues and
religious works of art in the streets, and danced around the fire while wearing
Mass vestments they found in the sacristy.
The story begins with Toribio’s
struggle to get schooling in a place that had no schools (Santa
Ana, Jalisco, where everyone was illiterate), and traces his
journey from poverty to priesthood in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.
Other highlights of his story include:
- Toribio's interest in Pope
Leo XIII’s social justice
encyclical Rerum Novarum and the trouble that got him into
with conservative pastors and wealthy parishioners
- His experience
as a parish priest during the Cristero War when catechists
were being hung from telegraph poles and his bishop was running
diocese from a hiding place in the hills
- The climate of terror
in which he ministered as priest friends began to disappear
at the hands of the fanatically anti-Catholic government
Toribio Romo was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.