This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1 -- Feast of Beatus Anacleto González Flores

This is the story of the Maestro and the Maximato.  Spoiler alert:  the Maximato wins -- short and long terms, he just wins.  We can hope for Justice in the Hereafter, but who among us can presume to know on what standards, with what measures, that Justice will be founded?  On Earth (ante-Kingdom Come), the Maximato wins.

Eduardo Verastegui as Anacleto Gonzalez Flores
This one's long, so here's the bonus feasture up-front:  A film called Cristiada, set during the times described below, has been made this year.  I haven't learned the release date, but the cast includes Eva Longoria, Peter O'Toole, Ruben Blades (as the Maximato), Andy Garcia, Eduardo Verastegui (as today's beatus), and Bruce McGill as President Calvin Coolidge.  How cool is that!  When is the last time you saw President Coolidge portrayed in a film? 

Jefe Maximo
Plutarco's Oath of Office -- with an unfortunate gesture
Maximo -- Plutarco Elias Calles was born in Mexico in 1877.  When his unwed mother died, her brother adopted the boy (Plutarco's dad being a deadbeat drunk) and raised him with ardent atheism and a bitter hatred for the Catholic Church. In truth, the Church had been a powerful force in Mexico for a long time, so when populist reformers like Francisco Madero and later Plutarco Calles came to power, they had grievances to redress. Governor Calles (quick story -- hardluck half-orphan made good, served as Governor, Interior Minister, then elected president in Labor Party tidal victory in 1924) moved quickly in Sonora.  He had an odd blend of pro-worker / pro-corporate interests in which the state was the powerbroker and arbiter of all things.  True, he said he was for workers, but so did a few other mid-century totalitarian dictators.  He also expelled the priests from his state and imposed Prohibition of alcohol.

Hanging at the Casa Blanca with Presidents Taft and Coolidge
Elected president in 1924, he forbade the Church to own property, denied voting rights to priests, and promulgated a rule that priests were not entitled to jury trials. The Cristero War between Catholic rebels and the proto-fascist government.  The rebels pursued terrorist tactics; the Government just pursued terror.  The US ambassador helped negotiate a cease-fire, which the Government used to murder around 5,500 opponents in their homes.  Calles also nationalized all education, declaring "We must enter and take possession of the mind of childhood, the mind of youth."  After the illusion of democracy had ceased to be important to him, he established puppets in the presidency and declared himself Jefe Maximo (see also Fuhrer, see also Il Duce).  I suppose it is not surprising that when one of these puppets (Lazaro Cardenas) managed to cut the strings and arrest the puppetmaster, the Maximo was reading Mein Kampf.  During his exile in the USA, he hobnobbed with American fascists, but having been permitted to return to Mexico in 1941, he supported his country's declaration of war against the Axis in 1942.  His political movement became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled Mexico for seventy years, winning every election (a miraculous streak, isn't it?) until 2000. 

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Maestro -- Anacleto Gonzalez Flores was born in Mexico in 1888, the second of twelve children in a poor family.  His apparent intellect earned him a spot in a seminary, where he studied diligently but decided to become a lawyer instead of a priest (it's okay though -- he's still our protagonist).  In seminary, he was nicknamed the Maestro [a moniker that did not stay with him through life but I'm using it here as a contrast to the Maximo].  He studied the practices of non-violent non-cooperation advocated by Mohandas K. Gandhi, but rejected them in favor of an armed rebellion against the proto-fascist government during the Maximato (the era ruled by the Maximo).  He did not, himself, take up arms, but he gave speeches encouraging people to support the rebels with food, shelter, and supplies.

The widow of Blessed Anacleto Gonzalez and his young sons
To shut him up, he was arrested for the murder of an American named Edgar Wilkens.  Mr. Wilkens' wife knew that her late husband had been killed by a robber named Guadalupe Zuno and wrote to the government protesting the arrest.  Nonetheless, he was hung by his thumbs until they popped from the sockets.  His shoulder was broken with the butt of a rifle, and the bottoms of his feet were slashed.  These are not very imaginative tortures, but they must have sent a clear message.  An order staying his execution arrived sometime after the firing squad had killed what was left of him after the days of torture.

"I die, but God does not die!" Analecto Gonzalez Flores' last words, quoting the assassinated Ecuadorian President Gabriel Garcia Moreno.  1 April 1927

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