Saint Luis Batiz Saenz
Saint Luis Batiz Saenz was a Mexican Catholic
priest who suffered martyrdom at the beginning
of the Mexican uprising against the anti-Catholic
regime of Plutarco Elías Calles.
Luis was born in 1870 in San Miguel del
Mezquital, Zacatecas, then in the Archdiocese
of Durango. He was said to have been a devout,
prayerful, young boy. At age 12 he entered a
minor seminary in the archdiocese. He continued
his path to the priesthood and was ordained
on January 1, 1894. Soon thereafter, Father Luis gained popularity as
a confessor and spiritual adviser and accepted an appointment to be
the spiritual director of the seminary where he studied. He also had
assignments as a parish priest and became pastor of San Pedro parish in Chalchihuites, Zacatecas.
Father Luis was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 2367
and employed its organizational model to evangelize and call parishioners of all ages to service in the parish and the community. He also established Catholic elementary schools and technical training programs to encourage skill development among the local populace.
Promoting a love for the Eucharist was said to be Father Luis’
first pastoral priority, however, and he spent a great deal of his time
integrating the theology of the Eucharist in his religious education of
children and his adult faith formation classes. He encouraged adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
In 1926, Mexican president Plutarco Elías Calles, an atheist who was
determined to eradicate Catholicism from Mexico, enacted several laws to enforce the anti-Catholic articles of the 1917 Mexican Constitution. He severely restricted the activities of the Church and especially its priests. One such law prohibited public displays of piety and devotion. Another outlawed the wearing of clerical apparel by priests outside of church buildings.
On August 14, in the Zacatecas town of Chalchihuites, government
agents arrested Father Luis on suspicion of violating the “Calles Laws,” took him to an isolated spot and shot him to death along with three young men belonging to the Mexican Association of Catholic Youths. The murders were among numerous assassinations that ignited reprisals and counter reprisals. The resulting “Cristeros War” would exact a heavy toll on Mexico’s priests, where approximately 4,000 of them were either executed, murdered or expelled from the country. By 1934 there were less than 350 priests in all of Mexico.
In the Jubilee year of 2000, Saint John Paul II canonized Father Luis
Batiz Saenz along with 24 other Mexicans, mostly priests, who suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Mexican federal authorities during the Cristeros War.
May 25 is the feast day of Saint Luis Batiz Saenz.