|Blessed Michael Augustine Pro|
One of my favourite Saints, Bl Miguel Pro, Priest and Martyr was born on 13th January 1891. As a child he was possessed of a mischievious sense of humour and this continued even through his priestly vocation as he was apt to play good natured practical jokes on those around him.
He became a Jesuit novice in 1911 and was ordained in Belgium in 1925. The following year, despite suffering from chronic ill health, he returned covertly to his native Mexico where the Church was under a bitter and violent persecution. His childhood exploits stood him in good stead as he travelled, in the course of his ministry, in a variety of disguises, very much the modern Campion.
He was finally apprehended and executed by firing squad. Seconds before the shots rang out he prayed the Rosary for his accusers and murderers to be forgiven. At the moment of death he cried out: "Viva Cristo Rey" - Long live Christ the King!
Graham Greene in his book 'The Lawless Roads' describes the course of events:-
"In July 1926, Father Miguel Pro landed at Veracruz. He was twenty five years old and a Jesuit. He came back to his own country from a foreign seminary much as Campion had returned to England from Douai. We know how he was dressed when, a year and a half later he came out of prison to be shot, and he may well have worn the same disguise when he landed (the equivalent of Campion's doublet and hose): a dark lounge suit, soft collar and tie, a bright cardigan. Most priests wear the mufti with a kind of uneasiness, but Pro was a good actor.
He needed to be. Within two months of Pro's landing, President Calles had begun the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth. The Churches were closed, Mass had to be said secretly in private houses, to administer the Sacraments was a serious offence. Nevertheless, Pro gave Communion daily to some three hundred people, confessions were heard in half-built houses in darkness, retreats were held in garages. Pro escaped the plain clothes police time again and again. Once he found them at the entrance of a house where he was suposed to say Mass; he posed as a police officer, showing an imaginary bag and remarking, 'There's a cat bagged in here' and passed into the house and out again with his cassock under his arm.
Followed by detectives when he left a Catholic house, and with only fifty yards' start, he disappeared altogether from their sight round a corner - the only man they overtook was a lover out with his girl.
The prisons were filling up, priests were being shot, yet on three successive first Fridays Pro gave the Sacrament to nine hundred, thirteen hundred and fifteen hundred people.
They got him, of course, at last (they had got him earlier if only they had known it, but they let him go). This time they made no mistake, or else, the biggest mistake of all. Somebody had thrown a bomb at Obregon's car in Chapultepec Park - from another car. The evidence, since then, points to Government comlicity. All the assailants escaped but the driver, who was shot dead. A young Indian called Tirado was passing by, fled at the explosion and was arrested. He was tortured without effect: he persisted in declaring himself innocent.
The police pounced on those they feared most - Pro and his two brothers, Humberto and Roberto, and Luis Segovia Vilchis, a young engineer and Catholic leader. No evidence was brought against them; they were not tried by the courts. The American Ambassador thought he could do more good by not intervening and left next day with the President and Will Rogers, the humorist, on a Pullman tour; one South American Ambassador intervened and got a reprieve - timed too late to save any but Roberto.
|He prayed for his enemies before being executed|
|Thousands thronged the streets for the funeral of Bl Miguel Pro|
BLESSED MIGUEL PRO - ORA PRO NOBIS
The prayer below was composed by Bl Miguel Pro; it is a hard prayer to say with conviction but it is especially beneficial to those with a serious illness....