Juniper Vega and Humilis Martinez


The Servants of God Father Juniper Vega and Brother Humilis Martinez

In spite of the fact that for more than a century Mexico was prey to Freemasonry and to laicism, the worst offspring of Freemasonry, it was reserved for this unfortunate country to be the first with which we associate the kingship of Christ in the sense of the new feast of Christ the King. To Mexico may also be attributed the first martyrs to Christ the King. Prominent among these are thirteen secular priests, one Augustinian, one priest of the Society of the Heart of Mary, two Jesuits, three Franciscans, and several Tertiaries.

Today we commemorate Father Juniper de la Vega and his faithful companion, Brother Humilis Martinez. Both received the habit of St. Francis in the same convent in 1901, remained together later on, suffered together for Christ, and were awarded the crown of martyrdom at the same time.

Father Juniper and Brother Humilis were both born in Mexico, the former in 1874, the latter in 1873. Juniper was another Nathaniel, a man in whom there was no guile, with a pronounced tendency towards the interior life. Humilis was impetuous by nature and possessed a tireless impulse for work.

The Servants of God Father Juniper Vega and Brother Humilis Martinez

During the persecution under the notorious Calles, both were twice cast into prison for the cause of Jesus Christ. In February, 1928, Brother Humilis wrote to his provincial: “I am in a prison which held a martyr captive before me. One can still see the traces of his blood. I am sending you a bit of ground that is saturated with his blood.” On February eighth, Father Juniper was questioned in court. “How many Masses have you read?” an officer demanded. In all simplicity, the Father answered: “Figure it out for yourself, for I was ordained to the holy priesthood in 1905.” “I did not ask that,” the officer replied, “but how many Masses have you read since the prohibition was issued that no Masses be said at all?” The priest asserted in his simple, upright manner: “If I am to tell the truth, as many Masses as I could.” That was a crime punishable by death. Both the father and the brother were again led back to prison and were fully aware of what was awaiting them.

Brother Humilis again wrote to his provincial: “I spent the entire night in humbly asking God to forgive me my sins and in recommending my soul to the ever Blessed Virgin Mary, for it is clear that we must die. You need not, however, reply to this letter, for without doubt, I shall not receive the answer anymore.”

During the night Father Juniper heard the confessions of his fellow prisoners. Early the next morning he cast himself upon the ground and prayed. When Brother Humilis begged him to take a little rest, since he had spent the night without any sleep, Juniper answered: “There is no longer any time to sleep; the hour has arrived to prepare for death.” And so it happened.

The executioners soon arrived. Both friars were forced to board a military train. At Ecuanduro Father Juniper was forced to alight and run. A rain of bullets followed him. Meanwhile, the rude soldiers were making sport of Brother Humilis. At Zamora, he, too, was forced to alight and was shot down in his tracks.

The funeral of the two martyrs was like a triumphal march. Father Juniper was solemnly interred at Ecuandureo, Brother Humilis at Zamora. Over the graves of both martyrs, the jubilant cry of many thousands of voices could be heard repeating: “Long live Christ the King!”

What are we to understand by laicism? This pestilence of our modern era consists in the determination to no longer recognize a place for God, religion, and the Church, and to eliminate them from the lives of the people and of the state. Laicism has been most unhappily successful in Mexico and in other countries. The name of God is purposely disregarded at state, political, and business sessions. It has been forgotten that God is “the blessed and only mighty, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

How did laicism arise? At first, the authority of God was denied, as also that of His Anointed One over the nations, then the right of the Church of Christ to teach and guide the people. After that, the religion of Christ was assigned to a place alongside the false creeds and grossly subjected to civil authority. Finally, every Christian conviction was rejected. And yet, the God-man has solemnly commanded the representatives of the Church: “Going therefore, teach all nations.” (Mt. 28,19)

Pope Pius XI stated in his encyclical of the year 1925: “Dissension has been sown everywhere, the flame of envy and jealousy is kindled among the nations. Human society, which has rebelled against God and Christ, has been shaken, brought to the verge of perdition, and is threatened with unavoidable dissolution.” Following in the glorious footsteps of the Mexican martyrs, take your stand unflinching for the rights of Christ and of His Church.

*from the Franciscan Book of Saints by Marion A. Habig, OFM

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