• 21 May 20

May 21 - “St. Toribio Romo” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. Toribio!

In its effort to become a modern state, Mexico has struggled for almost 2 centuries with oppressive structures inherited from its days as a Spanish colony. One of the most debilitating has been a highly clericalized form of the Catholic Church, which has at times owned roughly half of the country.

Because of the intransigence of the Catholic hierarchy, President Plutarco Calles unleashed a violent persecution of the Catholic Church in 1926. Most Mexicans opposed his efforts and a radical minority took up arms in what became the “Cristero war.” Tens of thousands of lay people and soldiers were killed as well as a number of Catholic priests. Toribio Romo was shot by government troops on February 24, 1928.

Toribio was a priest for only a few years. He was known for his piety and his playfulness, but he accomplished little during his short life. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, his work seems to have begun after his death.

In recent years he has become famous for miracles illegal immigrants have experienced in dangerous situations in the desert borderlands of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. He has appeared to them with water and food. He has shown them the way out when they have been lost. He has recommended places where they can find employment once they reach U.S. cities. His shrine in Jalisco, Mexico, is now a place of pilgrimage.

In this icon he holds an old army surplus canteen and a tin cup full of water. His black clerical shoes are covered with mud--a first in a Byzantine icon!