Atilano Cruz Alvarado is listed as one of the youngest saints of all time. He was young at the time of his death and also served the church for a considerably short time. Despite his early death, he still made a great impact on those around him and the world.
Atilano Cruz Alvarado was born on October 5th 1901, in Ahuetita de Abajo, Teocaltiche. He worked as a ranch hand for his parents most of his young life, including herding cattle. When he turned seventeen, his parents sent him to Teocaltiche to learn how to read and write. While there, he discovered his calling and joined a clandestine seminary school in 1918. After two years, he was transferred to Guadalajara to finish his training and ordained on July 24, 1927.
After his ordination, Atilano went to replace St. Toribio Romo, another martyr in the parish of Cuquío, who had been shot to death by soldiers. Father Atilano joined the priesthood in the years when the Mexican government violently persecuted the Catholic Church priest. However, this did not hinder him from offering the required services to his parishioners. He would administer the Catholics with sacrament and provide them with safe houses hidden from the authorities.
Only eleven months after his ordination, on the night of June 29, 1928, father Atilano joined his pastor, Saint Justino Orona, at a nearby ranch where they were to discuss the situation of their parish. During their meeting, forty soldiers accompanied by civilian authorities stormed the ranch in the dead of night. When he heard his superior’s killing, he knelt in prayer to wait for the troops. Upon getting to him, the troops executed him. The church members retrieved his body from the city square, which the soldiers deposited. He was both beatified and canonized by Pope John Paul the second.