Blessed Miguel Pro
By Claudia the Aspirant
Joyful, daring, funny, unpredictable, talented, witty…what do these words bring to mind? Perhaps a famous celebrity, yet in reality they describe a 20th century martyr. He is widely known for his last battle cry: Viva Cristo Rey! His full name is Josè Ramon Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez was. This is the famous 20th century Mexican martyr whose martyrdom pictures have become very well known. While his pictures are quite famous and impressive, it is very easy to forget that he really and truly is a 20th century martyr; a modern day saint. Since Holy Mother Church calls us all to this very same vocation, namely that of becoming saints, we must have something to learn from the life of this wonderful saint.
As in the lives of all the saints, Our Lady was present in his life even
from the beginning. Therefore it is no coincidence that he was born in a town called Guadalupe, Zacatecas on January 13, 1891. Three days later he was immediately baptized in the chapel of a Franciscan Monastery with water from the Holy Land.
As a baby boy he experienced his first encounter with death. After eating a large amount of tecojotes (a small fruit) he contracted a severe food poisoning. For an entire year he suffered from fevers and other complications. Finally the doctors announced the certain death of the child to his parents. With great hope, his father took him into his arms and presenting him before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, cried out to his Heavenly Mother to please give him back his son. This most tender Mother had compassion on him and fully restored Miguel’s health only a few days after.
It was on the feast of Saint Joseph in 1898 when Bl. Miguel made his First Holy Communion, along with his two older sisters. The sacrament was administered by Fr. Mateo Correa who would share in the same fate as Bl. Miguel. Fr. Mateo Correa would be martyred on February 6,1927.
Bl. Miguel’s earthly mother was a great model for him of his Heavenly Mother. She too was a compassionate mother especially toward the poor. Since her husband was a mining engineer, she knew of the poor life of the miners and their families. She tried alleviating their sufferings by frequently visiting the families and providing them with food, medicine, and clothing. Often too she herself would tend to the sick. Her charity culminated with building a small hospital that offered free services to the miners and their families and sacraments to the sick. Her example led Bl. Miguel to acquire a great love for the poor.
His response to the priesthood came after one of his sisters had entered the convent and another one had made up her mind to also enter. Initially, this made him very sad, but then it caused him to question his vocation. Determined to know the will of God, he asked the mother superior at the convent where his sister was, to pray for him. Later that year he asked his parent’s consent to enter the Jesuits and on August 10, 1911 he was admitted to the novitiate.
Bl. Miguel became known for being convinced that God wanted him to become a saint. However, he quickly found out that becoming a saint is not an easy task. He had to overcome his pride and resentment that came from his sensitivity to criticism. Finally on the feast of the Assumption in1913, he made his vows and became a professed member of the order.
Meanwhile the revolution in Mexico had already begun. As time went by it became more and more dangerous. A year exactly after his vows on August 15, 1914, they were forced to flee into Texas as the situation had become too risky. From Texas he went to California, Spain, Nicaragua, and Belgium. It was in Belgium where he was ordained a priest on August 31, 1925. Up until that time he had successfully concealed his stomach sickness. It had become so severe that he had to undergo numerous operations. Since his health didn’t improve he was sent back to Mexico, where the last and most important stage of his life begun.
Only 23 days upon his arrival, a decree was released suppressing all public worship both in and outside of churches and all religious buildings became a property of the state. Now the church had to go underground. His underground ministry consisted of distributing Holy Communion (about 300 daily), giving conferences to all groups of people, and providing social aid for the poor. He did all this under many disguises including a taxi driver, a mechanic, and a “dandy”. Through all this he had a great desire to become a martyr, but was obedient to his superiors who asked him to take the necessary precautions to avoid getting caught.
In November of 1927 Bl. Miguel and his brothers took refuge in the house Mrs. Valdéz. On the last night before planning to depart to the U.S., Bl. Miguel and his brothers were arrested. This was only a week after having made an offering to share with Our Lady her sufferings at Calvary. The brothers were being accused of being involved with the bombing that attempted to assassinate General Obrégon.
Despite the fact that there was no evidence and with out a trial, Bl. Miguel and one of his brothers were sentenced to death. Bl. Miguel for being a Catholic priest. All were invited to witness the event and on November 22, 1927 was heard the last cry of Bl. Miguel “Viva Cristo Rey!”
There are many lessons that can be learned from this saint that can help us all in our path to sanctification. First, a love unto death for Christ the King. Second, true devotion to Our Lady. Third, a great desire to become a saint. Fourth a clear characteristic of his: joy amidst sufferings. May we live for what he died; Christ our King!