On November 23, 1927, Father Miguel Pro, a fun-loving young Jesuit, faced the firing squad. He refused a blindfold and asked only for time to pray. He had offered his life for the faith of Mexican people. Now God was accepting his sacrifice.
Miguel Pro had been born January 13, 1891, in Guadalupe, Mexico, one of eleven children of a mining engineer. He joined the Jesuits in 1911, a year after a persecution had begun in Mexico. The Jesuit novices were sent to study in other countries, and Miguel was ordained in Belgium in 1925. Father Pro returned to Mexico City in 1926, and within a month, the government banned public worship. Disguised as a mechanic, an office worker, or a beggar, Father Pro rode on his bicycle, distributing Communion and providing clothing for those who were poor. His quick thinking and pranks helped him in many narrow escapes.
On November 13, 1927, an assassination attempt was made on a Mexican general. A bomb was thrown from a car that had once belonged to one of Father Pro’s brothers. Police arrested Father Pro and his two younger brothers. When the man behind the plot heard that Father Pro had been arrested, he confessed. But to teach Catholics a lesson, with no witnesses and no trial, Father Pro and his two brothers were condemned to death by officials. One of the officers who had captured Father Pro led him out of jail to be executed. He begged Father to forgive him. Miguel put his arm around him and said, “You have not only my forgiveness but my thanks.” He also softly told the firing squad, “May God forgive you all.” Then with arms spread as if on a cross, Father Pro shouted, “Long live Christ the King!” before a bullet silenced him. Although the real criminal and one of Miguel’s brothers were also shot, the other brother was pardoned at the last moment. Despite the government’s ban on a public funeral, thousands came to Father Pro’s wake. Miguel Pro was beatified in 1988.
Have the students report on recent martyrs in El Salvador: the six Jesuits with their housekeeper and her daughter; Jean Donovan and Sisters Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, and Dorothy Kazel; and Archbishop Oscar Romero.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Miguel Agustin Pro by unknown artist, unknown date. Public Domain via Wikimedia.