BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DIOCESE
The city of Guadalajara, “the pearl of the West”, is one of the main Mexican cities with more than 5 million inhabitants and a cosmopolitan culture. With 479 years of history, its streets, its food, its music and its religiosity speak to us of the Mexican soul. Guadalajara is above all Catholic and this is demonstrated by its beautiful temples, traditions and values.
The city was founded on February 14, 1542 in the Atemajac Valley next to the San Juan de Dios river and in that same year it was named a city and endowed with a coat of arms by King Carlos I of Spain. Fray Antonio de Segovia in that same year gave the indigenous people of Zapopan the Marian image that accompanied him since 1529 and which he himself called “peacemaker”, this title is due to the fact that in a struggle between indigenous and Spanish (since the former were they rebelled against everything that was Spanish and there was great danger of losing many lives on both sides); He climbed the hill where the battle was taking place, with the blessed image and the 6000 Indians who were fighting surrendered. This image of the “Virgin of Zapopan” has accompanied this city and diocese since before its beginnings.
The diocese was founded in 1548 and its territory initially coincided with the territory of the Real Audiencia de Guadalajara. To the south it was bordered by the bishopric of Michoacán; to the east, with the Gulf of Mexico; to the west, with the Pacific Ocean, and to the north, it had no defined limits. It was the largest diocese in the world, in terms of territory.
The male religious orders arrived from the beginning of the conquest, first the Franciscans, then the Augustinians in 1565, the Dominicans in 1585, the Jesuits in 1586 and finally the Carmelites in 1593, among others.
The work of evangelization, both in the current West of Mexico and the United States, as well as in the Asian Far East, made Guadalajara the starting point of great missionaries, such as Father Juan María Salvatierra and Brother Junípero Serra.
The work that the religious orders, male and female, developed in the field of education is important. There were different types of institutions, but the case of the Colegio de Santo Tomás, later the Royal and Literary University of Guadalajara, now the University of Guadalajara, is in charge of the Society of Jesus at that time, and which was financed and promoted by the Servant. de Dios Fray Antonio Alcalde y Barriga. It is said of the latter that he was a great benefactor of Guadalajara and among his works is the Hospital of San Miguel de Belén, current “Old Civil Hospital of Guadalajara” Fray Antonio Alcalde “, one of the largest in America in its foundation and currently one of the largest in Mexico.
The concern for the formation of priests stands out, definitively establishing the Seminary of the Lord San José in 1696 and in which not only aspirants to the priesthood were formed, but also those who aspired to later carry out a civil career. It should be noted that this seminary continues to function, is 325 years old and is one of the largest in the world.
On January 26, 1863, Pope Pius IX, by means of the papal bull “Romana Ecclesia” erected the Diocese of Guadalajara as the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.
THE VIRGIN OF ZAPOPAN
The devotion to Our Lady of Zapopan was consolidated over the years. The fame of the Virgin grew and she began to be heard everywhere of miracles obtained through her intercession. Then the bishop of Guadalajara, Mr. Ruiz Colmenero, appointed a commission of Jesuits and verified the miracles, the bishop himself declared them true in 1653, with which the small hermitage that the Virgin had becomes a Sanctuary, and the image of the virgin is given the title of “Miraculous”.
In 1695, the image is taken to the city of Guadalajara, which was hit by epidemics and floods and the situation improved. By the year 1734, Guadalajara again suffers from storms with their sequelae of floods and epidemics, for which, once again, the civil authorities and the community itself beg the bishop to bring the image of the Virgin of Zapopan; the bishop agrees, and the image is taken to all the neighborhoods and chapels of Guadalajara; later, the notaries will give testimony of the improvement that the entire city obtained from this visit; For the same reason, the ecclesiastical and civil councils, the Audiencia and the government of the kingdom, headed by the bishop, declare Our Lady of Zapopan the patron and protector of the city; God’s people will give her a new title: “Patroness against lightning, storms and epidemics.”
The swearing in of this patronage, entails the obligation to bring the image every year, during the rainy season, so that in turn it visits all the churches of the city, a tradition that has continued over the years, even during the times of persecution, a pilgrimage that each year concludes with the famous pilgrimage of Zapopan on October 12 and that brings together millions of people each year.
At the consummation of independence and the birth of the state of Jalisco, two new titles were granted to the blessed image that both the army, the ecclesiastical authorities and the people of God, offered to Our Lady of Zapopan by the hands of the Bishop Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas. In 1821 she was declared “Generala”, and in 1823, she was “Universal Patroness of the new State of Jalisco”, covering her venerated image with the corresponding insignia.
The Church in Mexico has suffered persecution in different periods but especially bloody was the one that occurred between 1926 and 1929, in which the cults were suspended throughout the country, causing the so-called Cristero war. But even before the start of the revolution, persecution had begun and in this hostile environment towards the church, the Archbishop of Guadalajara, D. Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, decided to crown the image of the Virgin with pontifical authority. The solemn coronation took place on January 18, 1921 in the Guadalajara Cathedral. The chronicles of those times refer that the multitude of faithful covered the entire center of the city, and knelt attended the solemn act; then the virgin received a new title: “Queen of Jalisco.” Undoubtedly, this remarkable event contributed greatly to strengthen the faith of the community in the face of the difficult circumstances that the Church was going through. In fact, several of the priests who later suffered martyrdom, and today have been canonized, were at this ceremony.
Another title of the Virgin is that of “Queen of Lake Chapala”, which was in drought in the 50s of the last century and after the visit of the Virgin of Zapopan it miraculously recovered. And on October 12, 1989, Pope John Paul II, at the request of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, named her universal patron of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara.
During the persecution of the Church in the 1920s, thousands of Christians suffered martyrdom and gave living witness to their love for the Church, Christ the King and Saint Mary of Guadalupe. The people rose up and defended their King and these battles took place mainly in western Mexico, much of Jalisco and of the now canonized Mexican holy martyrs, many were from Guadalajara, as the natives of this city are called, or belonged to the clergy of Guadalajara and had passed through his Seminary.
We will only talk about the most from Guadalajara of all: San David Galván. This saint was born in 1881 and was baptized in the Church of Nuestra Señora del Pilar (temple currently commissioned to the Fraternity of San Pedro and where the traditional Mass is celebrated), his family was very poor, so he helped his father in a modest shoe shop. In 1895 he entered the Seminary of Señor San José, which he left after five years. During the time he was away from it, his lifestyle declined more and more, and upon realizing it, at age 21 he asked to be readmitted to the Seminary.
Little by little the change was evident and he could see his appreciation and dedication to mental prayer and his constancy in enduring adversity. The worldly hobbies that once seduced him no longer dominated him. At the age of 28 he was ordained a priest and shortly after he was assigned as a formator of the Seminary. However, his work at the Seminary was interrupted after the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, dissolved the Seminary following the arrest of 120 priests.
Defender of the sanctity of marriage, he helped a young woman who was persecuted by the military man Enrique Vera, a former classmate of his, denying her that she would marry because he was already married. This brought Father Galván the enmity of the lieutenant, who later became his executioner. When Father Galván was appointed Vicar of Amatitán, he was apprehended on the orders of this captain (of low morality and deep resentments against the priest). The arrest was unsupported, so Father David regained his freedom.
On Saturday, January 30, 1915, there were violent revolutionary clashes in the city and Fathers David Galván and José María Araiza prepared to help the dying and wounded. As they passed the old San Miguel de Belén Hospital, they were intercepted by Enrique Vera, who ordered their immediate arrest. They were sentenced, without trial, to the death penalty. However, a pardon saved Father Araiza’s life; but Father Galván did not have the same fortune, who, along with the wall of the Pantheon in Bethlehem, was detained.
In front of the firing squad and without losing his courage, the priest distributed the valuables he was carrying. He did not want to be blindfolded and in front of those in charge of executing him, he serenely pointed to his chest to receive the bullets; his last words were for his executioners: “I forgive you what you are going to do with me now.”
In June 1922 the remains of Father David Galván were deposited in a temple near the place of martyrdom, the current Parish of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, commonly known as the temple of Father Galván.