The Latest Martyr (Mexico 1926)

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The morn is sweet and radiant with blue sky over all,
There’s a flame of Oleanders over the adobe wall,
And the birds are singing gaily – I must crush my sorrow down
Why should a woman weep whose son doth wear a martyr’s crown?

‘Tis many hundred years since Stephen knelt in the market place,
Facing the cruel heathen stones battering his boyish face,
St. Stephen, first of the martyred bans! And he, my little son,
My little black-eyed Juan, he is the latest one!

It is almost too much honour – ah! Madre de Dios, be kind,
I am only a human mother, sinful and weak and blind,
I could not say “They will be done,” on that terror-haunted day,
When he faced their coward bullets, with a “Viva Cristo Rey.”

I can see the fearless flashing eyes, I can hear the ringing cry
As he fell ‘mid the blood-stained flowers, ‘neath the cruel-smiling sky,
His young form riddled with bullets, and I ran and held him fast,
And he smiled “Adios, Madre” for comfort at the last.

The nights are long in the adobe hut as I kneel and think of my dead,
For ‘”We must not pray for a Martyr,” so Padre Felipo said,
He is throned near to Our Lord’s Dear Heart-no need for me to pray-
So I sit and hold the crimson scarf he wore on a festa day.

And I ask Our Lady for patience, for strength to bear my crown,
To smile as a martyr’s mother should, and tread my sorrow down.
I pray for our tortured country to hasten freedom’s day
When we may hail Our Heavenly King with a “Viva Cristo Rey.”

© Alice Guerin Crist