Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro (1891 1927), November 23rd
Graham Greene's classic The Power and the Glory immortalized Mexico's persecuted Church of the 1920s. But photographs of Father Pro arms outstretched to image Christ Crucified, kneeling in prayer before the firing squad, crumpled dead on the ground vividly, visually remind us that not long ago, not far away, the faith we take for granted cost everything!
Born to a mining family, Miguel became a Jesuit and was sent to study Catholic labor movements in Belgium in preparation for evangelizing Mexico's workers. But he returned to find a Mexico determined to annihilate Catholicism, and, like priests before him during Roman persecutions, England's Reformation, and in China today, ministered secretly to an "underground Church" until apprehended and sentenced to the firing squad.
In his final moments, Father Pro blessed his executioners, forgave his enemies, and shouted: "Viva el Cristo Rey! Long Live Christ the King!" his defiant, dying proclamation of ultimate, transcendent loyalty. Father Pro's martyrdom reinvigorated that beleaguered Church, whose countless faithful, never again afraid, would throng John Paul II when he visited Pro's beloved Mexico fifty two years later.