Even his most outspoken critics would agree that the late Archbishop of Guadalajara, Francisco Orozco y Jiménez (1864-1936), was among the century’s most widely known and highly respected Mexican prelates. Orozco studied for the priesthood at the Latin American College in Rome and, after his ordination in 1887, returned to his native Zamora as professor and later rector of that area’s regional seminary. During the years following his appointment to the bishopric of Chiapas in 1902, Orozco distributed his own portion of a sizable family fortune to a wide variety of charitable organizations and soon gained a reputation as one of the country’s most progressive churchmen.
By the time Venustiano Carranza had come to power in 1916, Orozco was archbishop of Guadalajara and clearly the leader and unofficial spokesman for the Mexican hierarchy. The prelate’s concern for the social betterment of his people brought on the first in a long series of clashes with the government in 1917, and from that time onwards, as one writer has noted, Orozco became a medieval type of bishop-knight, feeling as much at home on horseback brandishing a Springfield as on his archepiscopal dais benignly waving his crosier.
This two-volume study of Francisco el Grande, written by Vicente Camberos Vizcaíno, leans heavily on the Homenaje a la memoria de Monseñor Orozco y Jiménez, issued at the time of the archbishop’s death in 1936. While the treatise could easily have been reduced by one-third without sacrificing either details or style, the author has provided a worthwhile, penetrating account useful for students of those troubled days when the Church in Mexico was under siege.
Vizcaíno’s style is reminiscent of the kind of hagiographical writing common from about 1870 to 1914; nonetheless, though the author obviously idolizes the archbishop, the tenor of the treatise does seem fairly objective. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many of the publications of Editorial Jus, there is no bibliography and no index, either of which would have added immeasurably to the overall usefulness of the work. This reviewer would have appreciated a greater abundance of footnote documentation, though that too was probably restricted by the publisher.
The heritage of Francisco Orozco y Jiménez, vividly etched in the minds of his flock, still pervades the ecclesiastical atmosphere at Guadalajara. His protege and successor, José Garibi y Rivera, would be the first to agree that the cardinal’s hat which he received in 1956, symbolic as it is of persecution, rightly belonged to Francisco el Grande.