¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Viva Cristo Rey! Yesterday was the Solemnity of Christ the King, properly known as the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Today, we honor Blessed Miguel Pro, a Catholic priest who was martyred during the persecutions of Catholics in Mexico during the Cristero War (1926-1929).
The Feast of Christ the King day was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Quas Primas, just two years before Miguel Pro was martyred on November 23, 1927. The Solemnity always marks the end of the Liturgical year–it’s always the last Sunday before Advent–and it often coincides with the anniversary of Blessed Miguel Pro’s murder.
José Ramón Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, known today as Blessed Miguel Pro, was a Jesuit priest living in Mexico during the Cristero War. During this time, Catholic churches were closed and priests were not allowed to wear their clericals or to celebrate Mass. Hundreds of Mexicans were killed during this period, simply for being Catholic. (There’s a movie about it.)
Today, when we get hit by a particularly nasty snow blizzard, many people skip Mass because the roads are dangerous or they can’t get out of their driveways because of the snow. It seems legit, right? Icy roads can be a huge hazard.
Imagine the government making it illegal to even attend Mass, and if you go, you will be shot and killed.
That’s a bit worse than icy roads. And yet, hundreds of thousands of Catholic Mexicans put their lives at risk during this time in Mexico. My great-grandmother died during the Cristero war because of the stress brought on by my great-grandfather hiding Catholic priests from the government. It was a scary time.
Miguel was arrested for celebrating Mass and executed by firing squad on false charges of attempting to assassinate the President. His martyrdom is significant because it was captured in photographs (go to my blog post on this from last year to see them).
The government took the photos because they wanted to chronicle the death of a sniveling, cowardly Catholic priest being killed. Instead, they captured the murder of a brave young man, who met his death with peace and prayer.
Blessed Miguel Pro was a lighthearted guy, often making jokes or teasing his family and friends. Before he died, it’s said that he even joked of going to Heaven, “If I meet any long-faced saints there, I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance!”
I hope to meet him there someday.
Websites quoted for this post, and some great resources on Blessed Miguel Pro:
- Blessed Miguel Pro, SJ, by Bert Ghezzi
- Blessed Miguel Pro Juarez, CNA
- Face to Face with a Martyr: The Humor and Humanity of Blessed Miguel Pro, National Jesuit News
And here is a great list of links to sites on Blessed Miguel Pro
Art: The blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, Mexican Jesuit, executed by a firing squad in Mexico (1927) for exercising his priestly ministry, scanning of an old photograph, Grentidez 27 November 2009, PD-Worldwide; On 23 November 1927, Miguel Agustín Pro, Mexican Jesuit, is executed by a firing squad (in Mexico City), scanning of an old photograph, Grentidez 27 November 2009, PD-US author’s life plus 70 years or less; both Wikimedia Commons.