St. Jose Maria Robles Hurtado was born to a religious family in Mascota, Jalisco. When he was only 12, he entered the seminary in Guadalajara and was ordained in 1913, when he was 25. Later, he founded the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
He wrote several documents and books to promote the Catholic faith and catechized and converted people––even though his country did not approve of the practice at the time. When he was serving as parish priest in Tecolotlan, he began to teach and encourage a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Eucharist. He was so excited about his teaching that people began calling him the “Madman of the Sacred Heart.”
The Constitution of 1917 outlawed public processions or other devotional practices––but this did not stop Jose from his work. He decided to have a huge cross built, and he placed it in the geographic center of Mexico because he thought it would be symbolic of how Mexico honored Christ as its king. He organized a huge procession to place the cross, and organized signs to be placed throughout the city that said Christ was the “King of Mexico.” On the day of the planned procession, an estimated 40,000 Roman Catholics made their way to the site of the cross––a hill that was called “La Loma” and is now called the mountain of Christ the King.
After this display, the government decided to ramp up their persecution of Catholics in Mexico and ensure that Jose would not repeat this act of open rebellion. Though the government encouraged him to leave Mexico, Jose refused. He continued to serve the faithful Catholics left in his community and he even promoted the idea of armed defense of Catholics who remained and suffered from the persecution.
Jose recognized the very real possibility of being killed for his actions. He wrote a poem about this possibility and one of the lines of this poem said, “I want to love you until martyrdom.” He was arrested four years after leading the giant procession when he said a prayer in the home of the Agrazes––a family who was hiding him from the government. He was found guilty of breaking the law and was sentenced to be hanged from an oak tree. The next day, before he faced his death, he offered his executioners a small votive candle to help light the way to the tree. At the tree, he forgave the men and took the noose into his hands and told them: “Don’t dirty your hands.” He kissed the noose and placed it around his own neck so the men would not be burdened with the horrible task.
St. Jose Maria Robles Hurtado is depicted in priest’s robes with a large cross and a candle. He is also pictured with a sign that says “Cristo es el Rey de México” which means “Christ is the King of Mexico” in Spanish.