Saints Cristobal, Antonio and Juan

The Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala



The three Martyrs were teenagers from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala who were all martyred for their zeal and faith by the indigenous locals.



Cristobal

Born in either 1514 or 1515 as their heir to his father Acxotecatl, Cristobal grew up in a home dedicated to the local pagan Tlaxcalan rituals. Early in his life, Catholic missionaries including Franciscan Friar Toribio de Benavente Motolinia persuaded his father to allow him to attend a local Franciscan school. His father, a local chief and priest in the Aztec faith, initially allowed his son to attend for a better education.



In the beginning, Cristobal's parents put up with the constant evangelization (Cristobal began to develop a full zeal and determination for his new faith, preaching to his family and brothers - all three of which were now attending the same school). Despite his mother pleading for the constant Christian talk to stop, the real trouble began with Cristobal began breaking the pagan idols throughout the house.


The breaking of the idols would be the last straw - his father planned a feast for his family (a trap) inviting Cristobal and his brothers for dinner. When Cristobal smashed more idols during the feast, his father grabbed him by the hair and began to beat him as he pulled him through the house. With bones broken from being beat by the thick oak club, his father demanded Cristobal renounce his new found faith. When he received the final "no", his father lifted him and placed him onto the bonfire. Amazingly, Cristobal survived the fire through the night and as he lay dying the next morning, he called for his father and said:


"Father, I forgive you"

Cristobal died that morning at the age of 14. His father was quickly arrested by the local Spanish authorities and sentenced to death. A local Franciscan Friar located Cristobal's remains in 1528 and gave him a formal Catholic burial .



Antonio and Juan

Antonio was born in either 1516 or 1517 as the grandson to the nobleman Xiochtenacti and was set to inherit his grandfather's lands and title. When Antonio converted to Catholicism, he began to serve as an interpreter for the Friars. Soon he had a servant of his own (Juan) and the two were fully consumed by their zeal and love of God. Much like Cristobal, trouble began when they started breaking the local idols.


A group of men overheard the smashing of clay from inside a room and rushed in to stop the two young men from breaking more idols. Finding Juan standing over broken and smashed idols, they immediately beat him to death. Antonio came into the room next and confronted the attackers, telling them Juan was innocent and that it was he who broke the idols. Without remorse, the bloodthirsty and angry crowd likewise beat Antonio to death and threw both bodies off a local cliff. Thankfully, the Friar Bernardino was able to locate the bodies and returned them to Tepeaca for a formal burial.


Sainthood

Pope John Paul II began the beatification process in 1982 and titled all three teenagers Servants of God. Pope John Paul II confirmed the three teenagers were killed "in odium fidei" and beatified them in 1990 during his visit to Mexico. Pope Francis formally approved the canonization as Saints without the required miracle in March of 2017 and all three were canonized as Saints formally on October 15th, 2017.


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