Foreign Policy Blogs

For Greater Glory (2012)


“Viva Cristo Rey!”

That rallying cry (which translates as “Long live Christ the King!”) was made by the Cristeros (soldiers of Christ) during the conflict in Mexico in the late 1920s. That war started a few years after the Mexican government outlawed religion in the 1917 constitution.

The film begins in 1926 when Mexican President Calles cracks down on churches and religious people, mostly Roman Catholics. The scenes of troops ransacking and destroying churches and summarily executing priests are difficult to watch at times.

The Cristeros enlist an agnostic general, Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, to help organize the resistance. Gorostieta, who is reluctant to join the fight at first, decides to lead the rebels because he believes in religious freedom.

The story is important to tell because many viewers have no idea what removal of religious liberty looks like. It is also important because the three-year war is largely unknown to most of the world. The war, which took 200,000 lives, was waged by the government and a truly grassroots peasant army.

“For Greater Glory” was made with the support of the Knights of Columbus. As many as 70 of them were killed in the fighting. Nine of them, along with 29 other martyrs, have been either beatified or canonized.

Within a few days after the war started, the Knights of Columbus condemned what was happening and soon thereafter met with United States President Calvin Coolidge.

They raised as much as $1 million for humanitarian aid to victims of the persecution, and seminaries were set up in the U.S. where displaced seminarians could continue their studies.

There are some big names in the movie, which stars Andy Garcia, Ruben Blades, Eva Longoria, and Peter O’Toole. But it is Mauricio Kuri who steals the show as the 13-year-old boy Jose who joins the ranks of the Cristeros and refuses to renounce his faith, even in the face of death.

While the acting is heavy handed at times and the score is intrusive, this film is important because it shows the power of faith in trying times.

“For Greater Glory” is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy
Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;


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