On October 4th, a monument was inaugurated in honor of Cristóbal, Antonio, and Juan, the Niños Mártires de Tlaxcala (child martyrs of Tlaxcala), three years after their canonization and within the framework of the 495th anniversary of the founding of the city of Tlaxcala.
The monument was unveiled by the Bishop of Tlaxcala, Mons. Julio César Salcedo Aquino, the governor of the city, Marco Antonio Mena Rodríguez, and the mayor Anabell Ávalos Zempoalteca.
In a statement, Bishop Salcedo thanked the authorities for their sensitivity in “presenting our people with values that help to forge a more humane society, especially now that we are going through such adverse times.”
The Prelate recalled that in a meeting with Pope Francis, days after the canonization of the Mexican martyrs, the Pope himself pointed out that “these children were brave, generous, daring, and creative!”
“The best children that Tlaxcala has had,” which are a “model of life and holiness, not only for our people but for the universal Church,” Bishop Salcedo said.
“This beautiful sculpture will encourage us to assume life, faith, and responsibilities that we have for the good of our families and our people. Congratulations! ”, he concluded.
During the inauguration, governor Mena Rodríguez stressed that this monument “is part of our identity” and “that these children should be a reason for unity and identity in Tlaxcala.”
Likewise, Anabell Ávalos indicated that the testimony of faith of these martyrs prevails in the families, “so it was necessary to pay tribute to them with this sculpture in honor of their memory, their faith, innocence, courage and their strength.”
Child martyrs of Tlaxcala
Cristóbal, Antonio, and Juan, the Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala, were murdered out of hatred for the faith in Mexico between 1527 and 1529. They are considered the first martyrs of America.
Cristóbal was born in Atlihuetzia, in the current Mexican state of Tlaxcala, in the then Viceroyalty of New Spain. He was the son of the indigenous chief Acxotecatl. His education was in charge of the evangelizing work that the Franciscan friars carried out in the region between the years 1524 and 1527.
After receiving baptism, he tried to get his family to start a path of conversion and to give up the worship of idols. This commitment of Cristóbal for the conversion of his family caused the rejection of his father, who did not hesitate to respond with anger to his son.
Cristóbal died at the age of 12 as a result of the blows and burns caused by his own father. His remains were buried in the old convent of San Francisco, which today is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption of Tlaxcala.
For their part, Antonio and Juan were born in the town of Tizatlán, also in Tlaxcala. Like Cristóbal, they were educated by the Franciscans, although later their training was continued by the Dominicans.
The children tried to eradicate idol worship in their town and in the surrounding villages. However, residents of Cuautinchán, in Puebla, beat them to death in revenge for their actions.
Cristóbal, Antonio, and Juan were beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 6, 1990 in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. They were canonized with 33 other blesseds by Pope Francis in a ceremony held at the Vatican on October 15, 2017.