Wednesday, 23 November 2011

It takes courage to stand in front of a firing squad....

...without a sign of fear. In fact, it takes more than courage, it takes above all else, faith. Especially if you stand with your back to a wall after refusing the customary blindfold and proclaim “Viva Cristo Rey!” in ringing tones.

Bl Miguel Pro whose
feast it is today, and
who died 23rd
November 1927
Two seconds later the volley of shots rings out and a martyr’s crown is won in the only way possible, by giving up one’s life for love of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world.

Miguel Pro was born in Mexico on 13th January 1891 and received the baptismal names of José Ramón Miguel Agustín.  His father was manager of a mine and young Miguel had ten siblings.

Life was relatively hard in the Pro household but Miguel showed, from an early age, a sincere sense of spirituality and a strong and mischievous sense of humour.

Dubbed ‘Miguelito’ and, when he was a little older, ‘Cocol,’ he played joke after joke on his brothers and sisters but never with any malice.

By 1911, Miguel had determined on a life dedicated to Christ, not an easy decision to take as Mexico was descending into one of the worst periods of persecutions of the faith since the Reformation. He joined the Jesuit order but within three years he had to flee with his fellow seminarians to California and then to Spain in order to continue his studies in peace and safety.
He was ordained in Belgium in 1925 and lost no time in returning to his beloved Mexico despite knowing full well the perils he faced under the persecutions instigated by the dictator, President Calles.

Immediately, he went underground to carry out his ministry. He travelled the country, hearing confessions, celebrating Holy Mass and taking the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and the infirm.
He had many narrow escapes; once when celebrating Mass in a house that was raided. Fr Pro donned a policeman’s outfit and  coolly walked out through the cordon, telling the officers on guard: "It's about time you caught that rascal Pro".

On another occasion, while being pursued, he took the arm of a startled young woman passing by, stuck a cigar in his teeth and engaged her in close conversation. The police raced past the couple leaving Fr Pro space in which to escape.

His daring and his dedication soon made him a legend, popping up on all sorts of occasions and in all sorts of disguises; he took on the mantle of a clerical Scarlet Pimpernel and the authorities put a price on his head. They wanted this man above all others.

The making of a martyr, captured on film

In the end they caught him along with his brother Roberto.
Fr Pro was taken out of the prison into the yard and put up against a wall. He took out his rosary and knelt in a brief prayer after refusing to be blindfolded. Standing, he held out his arms in the form of a cross’ and proclaimed “Viva Cristo Rey.”

The firing squad did their duty and an officer delivered a single shot to the body as a coup de gras.

This clip is from a film about Blessed Miguel Pro……keep the tissues handy!

                                PRAYER OF BLESSED MIGUEL PRO

Say this prayer if you are sick or troubled or…just say it anyway!

Does our life become, from day to day, more painful, oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish….I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith…. Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigour to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.

Bl Miguel Pro

Graham Greene wrote an account of Fr Pro in his excellent book 'The Lawless Roads'


  1. Richard,
    What a video of such; great faith! Our troubles are slight in comparison!



  2. Thank you for reminding me of this. I find the photographs of his death particularly moving -and, shame on me, I'd forgotten it was his feast today.