Born in Mexico, January 13, 1891, Miguel Pro grew up in a large family with six brothers and sisters. Inspired by two of his sisters who entered the religious life, Miguel at the age of twenty, prayed to God in order to learn what God’s will was for his own life. Because of his great love for God, and his desire to follow His will, Miguel entered the Jesuit order at the Hacienda El Llano so that he may devote his life to the service of God.
Under the terror of the Mexican regime of the time of Calles’ and Obergon’s rule, came years of political and religious persecution. During this period, the Pro family suffered great great financial and personal hardship. Meanwhile Miguel and the other novices of the Jesuit order were also under severe threat of persecution, as Catholic priests and religious were among the targets of the Mexican reign of terror. After a raid of the religious’ house, their superiors ordered Miguel and the other novices to escape from Mexico. Miguel’s travels took him to diverse countries such as the U.S., Grenada, and eventually Belgium where he was ordained a priest on August 21, 1925. Even though his family could not be physically present at his ordination ceremony, Father Pro was spiritually present with them; blessing their individual photographs one by one.
Even though he sought to make his internal and physical turmoil hidden from those around him, Father Pro suffered great emotional pain over the constant worry he felt over his family and the physical pain which was caused by stomach troubles. Those around him even noted that at the times he felt the most pain; physical or emotional, that he would seem the most cheerful. Father Pro’s physical health weakened despite several operations. In hopes of helping Father Pro to regain his health, his superiors granted his wish to return home to mexico to be nearer to his family. Little did his superiors realise the extent of the trouble that the Church in Mexico faced.
In 1926, Father Pro returned to Mexico during the height of political terror; at a time in which the Catholic Church faced great opposition as a result of constitutional amendments and legislation which severely restricted public worship. Any Catholic priest who would dare to continue to serve the sacraments such as communion, baptism, confession, confirmation and marriage risked persecution, torture, arrest and even execution!
And so began Father Pro’s adventure for God, evading police in any way possible in order that he may minister to the physical and spiritual needs of all people which included the poor, the rich, workers, laborers, business and even Socialists and Communists (who were often openly hostile to Catholic Priests and the Church).Traveling via bike, and acquiring disguises such as that of a mechanic, a servant and even that of a cultured man of the world; he was able to carry out his duties for his people such as administering the sacraments and attending to the needs of people. In the spirit of Paul, the apostle, he literally became all things to all people for the sake of Christ. He won souls for Christ through prayer, humor and also through physical and spiritual aid.
While the solders and the police had their guns and rifles, Father Pro had the greatest of all weapons as he had once stated in reference to the crucifix: “Here is my weapon. With it along, I have no fear of anyone.” [Ball, 32]
Father Pro’s Martyrdom
“I am ready to give my life for souls, but I want nothing for myself. All that I want is to lead them to God. If I kept anything for myself, I should be a thief, infamous; I should no longer be a priest.”
In November 1927, Father Pro, along with his brother Humberto, became the scapegoat for an assassination attempt on the corrupt future president. The government authorities linked the Pro brothers to the crime through an old used car that had belonged to one of the brothers. Even though the authorities were well aware of the fact that the brothers were innocent, they were both guilty for being Catholic Priests. Because Catholic Priests were considered to be enemies of the corrupt regime, the government had an ulterior motive for convicting Miguel and his brother because they were the perfect scapegoat. Without due process or trial, the brothers were condemned to die. They were innocent of any crime. They were only guilty of being Catholic priests.
On the morning of November 23, 1927, Father Pro was led from his cell to the location of his execution. It did not matter to the police and soldiers that beyond the wall, within earshot, a man was shouting that he had in his hands a stay of execution that would free the brothers. The shouts were ignored and Father Pro was lead to his death. As he was led to death, one of the police men responsible for his capture asked for his forgiveness which Father Pro freely gave. Just minutes before he was to be executed, Father Pro asked to be able to pray as a last request. During this short amount of time, he kneeled upon the hard, uncomfortable ground, near the bullet riddled wall where he would soon be executed. In submission to God’s will, he accepted his fate, stood up, stretched his arms out wide in the shape of the cross in preparation for his death. After forgiving his executors, and as the squad raised its weapons, Father Pro shouted in a clear, yet loud voice : “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Which means long live Christ the king in Spanish.) With humility and bravery, Father Pro met his martyrdom.
On September 25, 1988, Father Pro was beatified by Pope John Paul II.