Yesterday as the news of Peter O’Toole‘s death came out it came to mind that I haven’t seem much of his filmography, I’ve seen King Ralph, Ratatouille, The Last Emperor and For Greater Glory. Sure I want to see Lawrence of Arabia and those other popular O’Toole films as well but that will be eventually.
Be aware there’s bound to be spoilers below
The most recent film O’Toole was in is For Greater Glory or Cristiada which was released last year and focus on the Cristero War. The Cristero War was a fight between the Catholics in Mexico and the government as the Mexican Constitution of 1917 was anticlerical as it stripped the Churches of it legal status, closing all schools and set a limit to the number of ministers. This was a way to limit the influence of the Catholic Church on the population.
In the film Peter O’Toole plays Christopher Magallanes, a priest who wrote and preached against the rebellion but was captured and martyred. In the film this event is witnessed by José Luis Sánchez del Río, a young boy who joins with the Cristeros. José soon became the protege of the rebel leader Enrique Gorostieta and is eventually captured. The government repeatedly asked José to renounce his faith and be released. He refuses and continues to say “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King) and they kill him. Fr. Christopher has been canonized and Jose has been beatified by the Church.
It is a remarkable film as it takes a look at a time that few people really care about. I took a class on Mexican History and we even skipped over this part, it is a little known part of history but as Lauren Markoe points out the message is still valid today in the on going fight between the government regulations and religious freedom in America. Perhaps we can pray to the Saints of the Cristero War for guidance in the on going struggle for Catholic around the world and here at home today. If you want to learn a little bit about history while you watch a movie this is a great choice. The film may skew Catholic but it is about the struggle that the Catholics in Mexico faced so be warned.
- “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada” (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Peter O’Toole Dies; ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ Star Was 81 (variety.com)
- For Greater Glory: The Cristiada and Us (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)