Photo by Natalie Scott
Grants Pass youth wear shirts with art inspired by Blessed Jose Sanchez de Rio.
Photo by Natalie Scott
Grants Pass youth wear shirts with art inspired by Blessed Jose Sanchez de Rio.
GRANTS PASS — Teens have always used fashion as a way to express themselves. Young people from St. Anne Parish here are making a statement about their faith with T-shirts they helped create. Screen prints on the tops depict Blessed Jose Sanchez de Rio, a 14-year-old Cristero who gave his life for his faith.

“We get so many compliments from teens about these shirts and they really have sparked conversations about our faith among the teens and their friends,” said Natalie Scott, youth ministry coordinator.

The Grants Pass teens became interested in Blessed Jose after watching “For Greater Glory,” a movie about the Cristero war, a rebellion that arose out of the Mexican Government’s persecution of the Catholic Church.

“He [Blessed Jose] had such a strong will,” said 15-year-old youth ministry member Issac Murphy. “He died for the Lord and I thought that was really amazing.”

Blessed Jose was beatified in 2005, along with 12 other martyrs who were part of the movement, at the request of Pope Benedict. His martyrdom was witnessed by two boyhood friends, who said, though he was tortured, Blessed Jose would not renounce his faith.

Designer Anita Wright volunteered her time to create the popular artwork, which shows Jose wearing a soldier’s uniform, with a band of bullets across his chest, gripping a rifle.
“I was struck by the contrast of this image of him and the reality of his death,” said Wright, a St. Anne parishioner. “Like so many before him, he died kneeling, not fighting. The bullets he wore did not fire; Christ was his power. The rifle he held took no life, instead he gave his own.”

There are hidden messages of faith tucked in the artwork: Christ is seen on Jose’s shoulder, and a cross is nestled in his rifle.

A graphic of bloody footprints walk up the back of the shirts.   

“The bloody footprints on the back are reminiscent of another bloody walk taken so long ago, knowing that the greater glory was not in holding on to this life, but in giving it up for love,” Wright said.

Five Grants Pass youths wore the T-shirts when they attended the Archdiocese of Portland’s Youth Conference held in Seaside in November.  

“A lot of people came up and said we had the coolest T-shirts,” Issac said. “They look cool, and the meaning behind them is awesome.”