BLESSED MIGUEL AGUSTÍN PRO (1891-1927), priest and martyr
Today, the Church honors Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, who was remembered for proclaiming, “¡Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)” which were the last words Father Pro uttered before he was executed by a firing squad for being a Catholic priest and faithfully serving his flock.
Born into a prosperous, devout family in Guadalupe de Zacatecas in Mexico in 1891, Miguel was noted for his high spirits and happiness, which were the most outstanding characteristics of his childhood personality. Being the son of a mining engineer, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes, which he retained all his life.
He entered the Jesuit Order in 1911, but three years later fled to Granada, Spain, because of religious persecution in his home country. He was ordained to the priesthood in Belgium in 1925.
He soon returned to Mexico, where he served the Catholic Church which was being persecuted and forced to go “underground”. It was a time in which parishes were closed, priests were in hiding, and persecution of the Church was government policy. Father Pro used disguises to conduct an underground ministry, bringing the consolation of Christian charity and the Sacraments to the faithful who were practicing their faith secretly in small groups.
Father Miguel Pro and his brother Roberto were arrested on fabricated charges of attempting to assassinate Mexico’s president. His brother’s life was spared; but Miguel, without the benefit of a trial, was sentenced to face a firing squad on November 23, 1927.
As he was about to be executed, Father Pro blessed and forgave his executioners and knelt and briefly prayed. Refusing a blindfold, he stood and faced his executioners with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other, and held his arms out in imitation of the crucified Christ. Just before the volley of bullets were fired, he shouted out proclaiming, “Long live Christ the King!”
After his execution, the government prohibited a public funeral, but the faithful lined the streets when his body passed by – as a public demonstration of their faith.
Father Miguel Agustín Pro was beatified on September 25, 1988 by Pope St. John Paul II at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. During his homily at the beatification Mass, the pope spoke of Blessed Father Pro as “…a new glory for the beloved Mexican nation, as well as for the Society of Jesus…Indeed, the deepest root of self-sacrificing surrender for the lowly was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to be conformed to him, even unto death.”
We commemorate his feastday on November 23.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and ewtn.com/library)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro)
“God our Father, You gave Your servant Miguel Agustín the grace to seek ardently Your greater glory and the salvation of Your people. Grant that , through his intercession and following his example, we may serve You and glorify You by performing our daily duties with fidelity and joy and effectively helping our neighbor.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”