Today we recall the life of Blessed Miguel Pro. He was Jesuit priest who was born in 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico. When considering the life of a saint, it is fascinating to catch glimpses of traits he or she possessed as a child which are indicators of how the future saint would show forth these traits in his or her ministry. In the case of today’s saint, affectionally called Miguelito in his youth, he was known to possess a certain mischievousness that at times stretched the patience of his family. He had a daring precociousness that sometimes even resulted in accidents that endangered his life.
His path to priestly ordination was a precarious one. His country was forced to endure the onset of an anti-Catholic regime such that he could no longer pursue his seminary formation in his home country. As a result, he found himself studying in the United States and then eventually in Spain.
After ordination, he returned to his native country of Mexico amidst the ongoing persecution of the Catholic Church. During this dark time, priests were forced into hiding and so the future saint was not able to perform his duties publicly. The daring nature he possessed from his youth would now providentially serve him well in his priestly ministry. He spent the rest of his life ministering secretly to the spiritual needs of the faithful. The creativity and fervor with which he strove to serve can only fail to inspire the most dull-hearted. He served the poor with great passion and his exploits are legendary. He was known to disguise himself as a poor beggar in order to baptize infants. At other times, he would show up at the jail dressed as a police officer to bring Viaticum to condemned Catholics. In order to help the poor, he would appear in well-to-do neighborhoods dressed as a businessman. One description of his exploits stated that his actions rivaled the most daring of spies.
Two of the sure signs of sanctity he showed amidst his trials and struggles to serve the people of God were that of obedience to Church authorities and carrying out his ministry with a joyful spirit.
When dealing with agents of the enemies of God, history bears out the fact that they must resort to lies and deception to achieve their ungodly ends. The future saint, Fr. Miguel Pro, was falsely accused of a bombing attempt on a former Mexican president. He was therefore sentenced to death by a firing squad. He bravely refused to be blindfolded at his execution and is famously known for lifting his arms to make the form of a Cross and crying out before the gunshots, “Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long live Christ the King!”
His feast day is rightly celebrated a few days before the Church’s solemnity of Christ the King so that we may ponder who Christ is in our lives, and to what lengths we might be called to serve Jesus in our own day.