Saint of the Day – 22 November – Saint Pedro Esqueda Ramirez (1887-1927) Priest, Martyr of the Cristero War, Apostle of Eucharistic Adoration, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Charity, devoted to the youth and especially their Catechesis – born on 29 April 1887 in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, Diocese of San Juan de los Lagos, Mexico and died by being shot three times on 22 November 1927 in Teocaltitán, Jalisco, Mexico, he was 40 years old. Additional memorial 21 May as one of the Martyrs of the Mexican Revolution
St Pedro was born in San Juan de los Lagos, Jal. (Diocese of San Juan de los Lagos), on 29 April 1887. His parents Margarito Esqueda and Nicanora Ramírez did not realise that they had brought into the world, an authentic, brave and holy Priest, who would witness Christ to the world.
At 4 years of age he began his instruction in a private school. His early association with the parish as a choir and altar boy awakened his vocation to the priesthood. His academic record was impeccable. His childhood was enriched by piety and hopeful joy. He erected altars at which he pretended to be celebrating the Mass, the dream that fed his spirit.
At age 15 he entered the seminary in Guadalajara but in 1914 the Seminary was forcibly seized and closed by the Government. Pedro returned to San Juan de los Lagos where he helped as a Deacon in the parish. He completed his studies at the Seminary in Guadalajara and was ordained a Priest in 1916 and appointed Parish Priest of his native parish, a position he held during the 10+ years of his priestly ministry. The ministry to which he dedicated himself with true passion, was the Catechesis of children. He founded several study centres and a school for the formation of Catechists. He also promoted the Eucharistic Crusade association fed by his love for the Eucharist, devotion that, together with his love for the Blessed Virgin, he extended among the faithful. From the Eucharist he drew his strength and encouragement. He was also spared nothing of the little he had, in his kindness and help to the poor.
In 1926 Government forces began a fierce anti-clerical campaign and issued an order of persecution and the good people of the town tried to convince Pedro to flee to another place. He only agreed to take refuge on a provisional basis in some places always close to the faithful, whom he continued to attend pastorally.
Fr Pedro continued his work but lived in several private houses, in one of which, they opened a hole in the floor where they kept the ornaments and sacred vessels and where at times the priest had to hide.
At the beginning of November 1927 he sought refuge in Jalostotitlán, Jalisco. But he returned to San Juan, led by his love to the parishioners. He didn’t want to leave them without assistance. He stayed at the Sacred Heart hospital . And the hosts of the homes where he was welcomed, seriously begged him to escape. But Peter was not willing to do so and testifying to his great faith, he said: “God brought me here, I trust in God”.
He was arrested on 18 November of that year 1927. In a miserable and dark room he suffered patiently the fierceness of the scourges and other cruelties that caused the fracture of one of his arms. But the most painful torment was to see the sacred objects desecrated before him, the ornaments destroyed and the parish archive ransacked. A cruel and infamous torture for a man of God, an innocent person whose only mission was to love Christ and others. The incessant torture lasted until 22 November. Battered and full of wounds, they forced him to climb a tree by himself. There he was shot mercilessly by a high officer who poured into him his torrent of anger when he saw that he could not stand on the pyre they had arranged to burn him to death by setting fire to the tree in question.
On the way to his particular Calvary, wrapped in a heroic silence, he left his will of fidelity to Catechesis and the Gospel to some children who walked beside him in tears.
He was Beatified on 22 November 1992 and Canonized by St Pope John Paul II on 21 May 2000.