by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
“Long live Christ the King!” Such was the cry that opened the gates of Heaven and eternal glory to many blessed during the Catholic resistance in the Mexico of the 30s.
The Cristero martyrs shouted it as they were executed by the communist regime they had fought: a tyrannical regime that shut down their churches, persecuted religion and spread disgrace over Mexico, the nation so loved by Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Luis Segura Vilchis also shouted it as he was shot to death by firing squad, with neither trial nor forewarning. The accusation against him: Having plotted against the life of the dictator Obregon.
In the photographs, we see the young engineer walking toward his place of execution. He is as serene as if he were walking up the aisle of a church for Holy Communion. Such is his serenity that we can easily picture him in former times about to receive the God for whom he is now to die.
Impressively pure, masculine and noble of countenance, well dressed, and visibly possessing good breeding, this hero can rightly be considered model Catholic youth; a youth that is serious, generous, and filled with faith and courage. How easily he could have used his many qualities in an egoistic way, building for himself a comfortable lifestyle with a smooth career! All he had to do was collaborate with the illegitimate regime or at least not oppose it. But the conscience of this devotee of the Holy Church could not accept such a thing. Segura Vilchis joined the Cristero movement, and thanks to his vigorous personality, fervor and intelligence he soon became one of its inspirers.
Witnesses attest that it was only as he was being removed from his prison cell that Segura Vilchis was informed of his imminent execution. He promptly responded that his killers would be sending him to Heaven. Even the captain and soldiers of the firing squad became moved on seeing him.
Led to the execution site by an officer, Vilchis had to walk by the still-warm corpse of Father Pro. In the pictures Vilchis is looking down to his right. There is the body of the famous priest.
Yet we do not note even the slightest contraction of Vilchis’ features. He shows no fear, no horror… nothing! His expression remains unchanged as he contemplates the stark reality so crudely presented before his eyes. He is its next victim, nevertheless the chroniclers of the time attest that they noticed no reaction. His self-control is total. It can only result from an extraordinary grace to face martyrdom and from a special strength of soul. His soul is strong because it prepared itself for this suffering long ago. Through hard reflection and meditation, it contemplated the worst that could come to pass.
Contemporary man hates to prepare for the worst. He loves to dream of the best, to fantasize about an idyllic situation for himself where everything good happens and nothing evil interferes. He does this to avoid recognizing the importance of suffering for his sanctification.And what is the consequence? When the worst does occur, the person’s morale collapses. Young Vilchi’s did not. He was prepared for the cruelest reality, as these photographs prove. The sanctity of his martyrdom is enhanced by his heroic preparation.
“Gentlemen, I am ready!” said he as he faced his executioners and looked heavenward. Seconds later—and with what assurance!—he was entering another Heaven, of which ours is but a symbol. What glory is his as he is carried by the angels to the very throne of God for his encounter, his real encounter, with Christ the King, for whom he has just given his earthly life, and with Mary, who smiles sweetly upon this heroic son who during his entire life was such a faithful devotee!
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 543