For Greater Glory

Many of you have probably seen the movie "For Greater Glory" starring Andy Garcia.  This is the 2012 major motion picture that recounted the true but largely forgotten story of Mexico's fight for religious liberty, the Cristero War, that took place in the 1920's after an atheist-Socialist dictator assumed power.

The book, "For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada, The Cristero War and Mexico's Struggle for Religious Freedom" by Ruben Quezada is the official companion to the epic film. This book is published by St. Joseph Communications in collaboration with Ignatius Press, with a forward by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. The book also includes a lengthy bonus essay by Carl Anderson (head of the Knights of Columbus) as well as the two encyclicals on the Mexican religious persecution by Pope Pius XI.

About the Author

The author, Ruben Quezada, is an expert on this dark period in Mexican history—when extreme persecution of the Catholic Church broke out during a period of strong anti-religious (especially anti-Catholic) sentiment following the atheist/socialist revolution.  In the book intro the author recounts a personal story of how as a child he knew nothing of this battle for religious freedom that took place in his own country.  He was in a state of disbelief when a priest told him about this fierce persecution of Catholics that occurred not so long ago.

He wondered how something like this could have happened in such an overwhelmingly Catholic country. He had no idea that the religious freedom he enjoyed was bought at a price—the blood of Catholic martyrs in the Cristero War against the Mexican government.  The priest gave him a photo of the Blessed Miguel Pro, a Mexican priest and martyr, taken a moment before being executed by firing squad.  Intrigued, Quezada began digging to uncover the stories of these martyrs and this forgotten war.  Now he travels internationally giving talks and interviews on this terrible moment in his country's past.

A Little Background . . . 

The movie's website offers a brief historical timeline to help viewers (and readers) to better understand the historical backdrop of the film. The timeline moves from 1924 (when the dictator Plutarco Calles becomes President of Mexico) through to 1929 (when a peace treaty was signed).  The timeline points out that although a peace treaty was signed in 1929, it wasn't until 1992 (!) that religious groups were constitutionally protected.  For a little help with the terminology, the Cristero War (1926-1929) is also known as the Cristiada, and the Cristeros are the courageous defenders of Jesus Christ who fought this war to preserve their religious freedom.

Some Interesting Facts You'll Learn in the Book:

  • How Mexican President Calles wanted to eradicate Catholicism and create a new utopian socialist society that did not include God.
  • The event that sparked the war . . . Calles passed a law closing all Catholic churches.
  • Anyone caught celebrating any religious services could be executed under government order.
  • A small group of courageous Catholic women formed a group called "Feminine Brigades of Saint Joan of Arc"  who were smugglers and nurses to the Cristeros freedom-fighters.
  • Meanwhile in the U.S., Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood founder) and the KKK supported Calles' persecution of Catholics.
  • The important role the Knights of Columbus, especially in the U.S.,  played in the Cristero War.
  • Why few Mexicans know of this past anti-Catholic persecution in their country.
  • Read the details and last words of many Cristero martyrs for the Catholic faith, and which ones are now canonized and beatified.

The photo above was taken on 23 November 1927 in Mexico City just before the execution by firing squad of 36-year-old Fr. Miguel Agustin Pro, SJ. In his right hand was a crucifix and in his left a rosary. His last words were ‘¡Viva Cristo Rey!’ (Long live Christ the King!)

More About This Book:

At only 151 pages, For Greater Glory: The True Story of the Cristiada is a handy tool and reference book on this shameful (for the Mexican government) yet very inspiring (for the Cristeros) period of Mexico's history. It is written in a question and answer format that makes it easy to grasp the people, places, and events that took place during this time period. It includes a bibliography of other sources for those interested in learning more about the Cristero War. If you're a fact-lover and a history-lover, this book is for you! This book is also great for Mexican citizens and Catholics, so that the blood of these courageous martyrs for Christ will not be forgotten!

Table of Contents:

1. Origins of the Cristiada

2. The Catholic Response

3. U.S. Involvement

4. Characters of the Cristiada

5. Freedom is Our Lives

Other Features:

  • Photo Gallery: Photos from the major motion picture depicting the real-life characters
  • Essay by Carl Anderson: "Who Can Be a Priest? The Question that Killed 200,000 Mexicans"
  • Special Cristero Prayers
  • List of Cristero Saints and Blesseds
  • Papal Encyclicals: Iniquis Afflictisque (1926) and Acerba Animi (1932) by Pope Pius XI on the persecution of the Church in Mexico

If you were inspired by the movie "For Greater Glory"  I hope you will consider reading this companion book.  It also makes a great Catholic book to set alongside your other books on Catholic saints and blesseds.  Don't forget, this book includes Cristero prayers!

Battle Hymn of the Cristeros

The Virgin Mary is our protector and defender when there is something to fear,

She will defeat the demons, crying, “Long live Christ the King!”

She will defeat the demons, crying “Long live Christ the King!”

Soldiers of Christ, let us follow the flag that the Cross shows the army of God!

Let us follow the flag crying, “Long live Christ the King!”

‘¡Viva Cristo Rey!’ 'Long live Christ the King!'

Copyright 2012 Gretchen Filz