Feast Day : November 23
Also known as: Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez
Miguel Pro was born at Guadalupe, Zacatecas, Mexico, on January 13, 1891. His father was a mining engineer and Miguel retained a special affinity for the working class all his life. From childhood he had a notably cheerful personality, though he displayed little interest in religion. When two of his brothers entered the priesthood, however, Miguel began to consider such a career for himself. In August 1911, at age 20, he entered a Jesuit seminary. However, the Mexican Revolution, which had begun the year before, turned out to be a time of persecution for the Church, and in 1914 the rector decided to evacuate all members of the community from the country. The brothers dispersed, Miguel going to study and teach in the United States, Spain and finally Belgium, where he was ordained on August 31, 1925. Soon thereafter he began to be afflicted by a severe stomach problem and when several operations failed to return him to health, his superiors allowed him to return to Mexico to recuperate. A few days after his arrival in Mexico City in 1926, Catholicism was officially suppressed, and Miguel was forced to don disguises and to conduct his ministry in secret. It was not long before he was arrested. He was released with a warning, but far from stifling him, the experience spurred him to greater efforts. He traveled throughout Mexico City on a bicycle, conducting communions and baptisms, hearing confessions, administering last rites, performing marriages and distributing food to the poor. In November 1927, he was arrested again, along with his brothers, and accused of plotting against President Plutarco Calles. Their execution by firing squad was ordered without trial. On November 23, Miguel was the first of the three to leave the prison. He asked to be allowed to pray one last time. He was put on his feet and extended his arms so that his body formed a cross. As he was shot, he cried out, “Long live Christ the King!” echoing the cry of earlier Mexican martyrs of this period. Thinking that he could use the occasion to celebrate the cowardliness of Mexican Catholics, Calles had invited the press to attend. The pictures of Miguel’s heroic death had the opposite effect. Although the government prohibited a public funeral, thousands of the faithful lined the streets to see his body carried to its resting place.