November 22, 2017

Blessed Miguel Pro, Martyr, "Long Live Christ the King!"

Blessed Miguel Pro

Father Miguel Pro was a courageous witness to the Faith during his government’s brutal oppression of Catholicism. His magnanimity in death earned him the crown of martyrdom and renown among Mexican Catholics and those across the world. On November 23rd, the Church celebrates his remarkable devotion and example.

José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, also known as Blessed Miguel Pro, the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez, was born in Guadalupe, Mexico, on January 12, 1891, into a wealthy family. His father was a mining executive in the state of Zacatecas. As a young boy, he was distinguished for his great sense of humor and personal piety. He wrote comics, played the guitar and was especially attuned to the poor. These qualities would help him immensely throughout his priestly ministry. Miguel was particularly close to his older sister, who joined a cloistered convent. This prompted him to discern his own calling to religious life.

He entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan at the age of 20, during the Mexican Revolution. Due to growing anti-Catholic sentiment, he fled to Belgium where, in 1925, he was ordained a priest. Father Pro suffered repeated bouts of acute stomach irritation and when, after several operations his health did not improve, in 1926, his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the religious persecution there. He went back to his native homeland, knowing that the Church was being singled out and that he would be in mortal danger as the government continued its systematic campaign to abolish Catholicism.

Amid great difficulties Father Pro exercised his priesthood, wearing disguises in order to bring communion to the faithful and to avoid the police. He was known for celebrating Mass at places he had secretly set up. He would also show up in the middle of the night – dressed as a beggar or a street sweeper – to baptize infants, hear confessions, distribute Communion, or perform marriages. Several times, disguised as a policeman, he would slip unnoticed into the police headquarters to bring the sacraments to prisoners before their execution.

In 1927, he was falsely accused of conspiracy in an alleged attack on the Mexican dictator and was condemned to death. Before being shot, on November 23, 1927, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners before praying silently. Refusing a blindfold, he faced the firing squad with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. A crucifix in one hand a rosary in the other, Fr. Pro cried out, "May God have mercy on you! God bless you! Lord, You know that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" He died declaring, "Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!).

He was beatified by Saint John Paul II on September 25, 1988. Almighty God and Father, who conferred upon your servant Blessed Migueal Agustin Pro the grace of ardently seeking your greater glory and the salvation of others, grant, through his intercession and example, that by faithfully performing our daily duties and serving those around us, we may serve you with zeal and seek your glory. Amen.

1 comment :

Marie said...

I am happily praying for the eventual canonization of Bl. Miguel Pro. If and when that happens, there is already a church in Manila that in my heart will forever be dedicated to him. It's called: "San Miguel Pro Cathedral." Ha-ha!

San Miguel Church in the tony district of old Manila became the temporary Archbishop's seat while Manila was rebuilding its cathedral which was destroyed by Japanese bombs in WWII. Thus it was called San Miguel Pro-Cathedral.

After Manila Cathedral was rebuilt, the Archbishop's seat was moved back to where it was originally and San Miguel reverted to its former status as a parish. The name San Miguel Pro Cathedral was officially changed to the Archangels' Church incorporating St. Gabriel and St. Raphael Archangels after the Vatican II calendar grouped all three archangels together in one feast - September 29.

But for those who remember San Miguel as a pro-Cathedral, it will remain as such. And to this devotee of the Mexican Blessed Miguel Pro, that church might as well be a place in our hearts dedicated to him.

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us.