Saturday, November 23, 2002

Viva Cristo Rey: Blessed Miguel Pro, sj

Miguel Pro was a bright but not brilliant Jesuit priest, a Mexican who had gone to Europe to fulfill his vocation. In 1926, after his ordination, he returned to Mexico on mission. His duty: travel around, preach the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments for the Catholics in hiding, avoid arrest for as long as possible. This is a very traditional Jesuit job description: St. Edmund Campion is the classic model of the genre.

Father Pro was notably successful in his ministry, going from place to place in disguise, celebrating Eucharist, baptizing, and generally encouraging the persecuted believers. He took a child-like delight in the more clandestine aspects of his life; the costumes, the role-playing, the going-out-the-back window-police-at-front-door. This also seems to be the classical Jesuit way of things, as history attests with the English martyrs and as I myself remember during the Vietnam War era.

Eventually, of course, he was arrested, and after being held for several days, with no semblance of a trial, he was taken to the police firing range and executed by firing squad. The government had photographers there, and publicised the execution in an apparent attempt to frighten the Catholics into submission, but that backfired; the photos became holy cards, and the sight of their priest, arms extended, giving up his life for Christ his King, gave them courage and became the beginning of the end of the persecution.

Viva Cristo Rey!
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