St. Mateo Correa Magallanes was born in Tepechitlan, Zacatecas, in Mexico. He went to the seminary in Zacatecas in 1881 and became a priest in 1893 when he was 27. At the beginning of his life as a priest, he gave communion to fellow saint Miguel Pro who also became a priest and was martyred for the faith.
Mateo was assigned to be the parish priest in Concepcion del Oro in 1898 and then was transferred to Colotlan in 1908. The Mexican government began trying to repress the Catholic Church in around 1910, which is when Mateo went into hiding. He made his way to Valparaiso in 1926.
In 1927, during the government’s continued persecution of the Catholic Church, a group of Catholic men decided to fight back. They were called “Cristeros.” Mateo was arrested by soldiers who thought he was a Cristero when he was bringing the Eucharist to an invalid woman, and he consumed the Eucharist when he was being apprehended so that it would not be desecrated. He was put in jail but was then asked by General Eulogio Ortiz to hear the confessions of some of the actual members of the Cristeros who were imprisoned in the same jail. Mateo heard the confessions of the men, but then Ortiz demanded to be told what the men confessed to Mateo. He refused to tell Ortiz what the men confessed, even after a gun was held to his head. He said, “But don’t you know, general, that a priest must guard the secret of confession? I am ready to die.” He was shot to death on February 6, 1927.
St. Mateo Correa Magallanes is depicted in priest’s robes with the Eucharist he protected from desecration.