La Cristiada: A Civil War

Mexican flag

Research into one of Mexico’s bloodiest civil wars in history and the impact this had on the local community.

University of Kent researcher Dr Mark Lawrence has explored the country’s memory of the war. Though Church and State fought fiercely against each other, the conflict was more complicated than many remember it.

Dr Lawrence said: “‘The Cristero War began in 1926 but never really ended. The religious tensions and local vendettas it unleashed reverberated throughout the last century. Even now, almost a century later, the scars of the conflict can be seen throughout the west of Mexico”

The ten-year long struggle of the Mexican revolution toppled a dictator and created a constitutional republic. The reforms of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico are still in place today, but at the time it prompted secularist and anti-clerical articles that created tension between Church and State.

The Cristero War of 1926-29, fought in the deeply religious centre-west, was a bloody and violent episode in Mexico’s history. The rural rebellion was instigated as a response to President Plutarco Elías Calles, who sought to eliminate the power of the Catholic Church.

It ended when the Church withdrew its support for the Cristero fighters, however the tension and violence continued for years after.

With the recent agreement to open a museum in Guadalupe (Cristero Museum), funded by the local council, there is hope that with Dr Lawrence acting as a consultant to inform exhibitions and learning at the museum that a greater understanding will be possible for the families affected by the war and the wider public.

Dr Lawrence has attended many public engagements about the Cristero War as part of the Zacatecas Cultural Institute’s state-wide exhibitions and talks in summer 2019. Dr Lawrence also networked with the regional wing of the PAN political party, and is in talks about addressing their members to improve their policy documents concerning the historical origins of the party.