The Historical Sketch of St. Michael's College, Santa Fe, N. Mex., which is part of the NOSF Archives' collection, contains a harrowing account of the murder of two Brothers, the imprisonment and escape of fourteen Christian Brothers caught in Mexico's Revolution. The Brothers involved conducted the college and day school in Zacatecas, Mexico, which had been opened for six years. A July 16, 1914 clipping from The New Mexican, which is appended to the handwritten historical sketch, provides details of the traumatic experience. The city of Zacatecas was besieged by the "constitutionalists," for three days before falling on June 23, 1914. On June 24, the forces took over the college and arrested the director, Brother Adrien-Marie and Brother Adolphe François. They were taken away, never to be seen again by the other Brothers who were later detained and questioned. When asked if they were opposed to Constitutionist ideas, they replied, "We are indifferent to politics of all kinds; we have nothing to do with politics." When asked for money by their jailors, the Brothers replied, "We are separated from our Director and have not any money."
The Brothers were imprisoned from June 24 to June 27. During this time, they suffered from hunger and the stench of rotting corpses in the city. Friends managed to bring them a little to eat. The French consul tried to get them freed, but was unsucessful. They were threatened with being shot if they did not pay a ransom, but again the reply was that they had no money.
After promising to remain in the city, the Brothers were released on June 27. When they arrived at their residence, they found it had been ransacked. The next day students told the Brothers that the Director and Brother Adolphe François had been executed (either June 24 or 25). A doctor and other friends went to the place indicated by the students and found the bodies of the director, Brother Adrien-Marie and Brother Adolphe François along with the body of a priest, Father L'Aumonier. These friends secured coffins and buried the victims in the Catholic cemetery next to the graves of two Brothers who had died earlier. The Brothers were not allowed to attend the burial out of fear for their lives.
On June 29, while reciting morning prayer, the Brothers were again seized and imprisoned. They weren't allowed to bring anything with them, not even their religious habits. That evening they were transported by train (first on the top of a rail car, and then inside a car containing corn) to Torreon. Some of the soldiers secretly fed them during the trip. They arrived in Torreon at noon of July 1 and were marched to the prison. A woman who saw them being paraded to the the jail, was able to use her influence to bring them food. The next day two Brothers were released to allow them to beg food for their companions. While doing so, they were secretly warned by friendly military officers to flee because the group was scheduled for a firing squad at 10 p.m. Later an officer demanded $5000 or promised death. The Brothers, somehow, were able to produce $2100, and two of their number were sent to beg the remaining $2900 which they secured. By 10 p.m. they were released, but were told to hide and leave the country.
On July 6, the sister of the finance minister to Venustiano Carranza, the First Chief of the Constitutionalists, hosted Poncho Villa for dinner. During this meal she interceded for the Brothers. Her son had attended the Brothers' school at Monterey. Villa consented, and with help from the French consul, the Brothers were conveyed by rail coach under guard to El Paso, TX on July 10. The Jesuit priests took them in on July 12, gave them necessities and advised them to travel to Santa Fe. The French consul arranged for the train tickets, and the Brothers arrived at St. Michael's, Santa Fe, on July 13.
Some of these Brothers later returned to France to fulfill their military obiligation during World War I. Others were sent to different Americn communites, while some remained and helped establish the new District of New Orleans - Santa Fe. The unknown Brother who wrote the Historical Sketch, awed by the courage and dedication of these Brothers, remarked, ". . . for a more exemplary or edifying body of religious men it would be very difficult to find."
Above, right - One of the survivors of the ordeal was Brother Amateur Victor, pictured here. Above, left - A survivor of the persecution and founder of the New Orleans-Santa Fe District, Brother Honore Julien is buried at De La Salle in Lafayette, LA.
|Brothers Who Survived Zacatecas Ordeal|
|Brother Amateur Victor||Brother Adole Leon||Brother Nazarie Samuel|
|Brother Amarin Joseph||Brother Honore Julien||Brother Noel Marie|
|Brother Adolphe Maurice||Brother Adolphe Abel||Brother Benjamin Alberto|
|Brother Bercaire Andre||Brother Alberto Jose||Brother Benjamin|