|Bl. Miguel Pro in disguise |
I first discovered Blessed Miguel in a little Mexican bookshop in Los Angeles years ago. My first child was just eight months old, and our local deacon and a director of Faith Formation asked if I wanted to tag along for the ride.
As they perused books for our parish, I was intrigued by the cover of Ann Ball's book Blessed Miguel Pro: 20th Century Mexican Martyr.
I had not known there was a Catholic persecution in Mexico, wrongfully assuming it's always been highly pro-Catholic.
Blessed Miguel Pro swept me off my feet. Completely.
Who knew saints could be so lively, so funny? Never had I read about such an outrageously funny, brave, wise, and devout person saint like him before.
Infused with bravery, humor and devotion, Miguel's life reads like a boy's adventure book---except everything is true. He had narrow escapes, donned disguises, faced his foes at times, suffered physical injury, and yet, through it all, retained his deep faith in Christ and His Church.
Blessed Miguel Pro (1891-1927) was a priest in Mexico when it was dangerous to be one. With his flair for acting, his bravery, and quick wit, he outsmarted and outmaneuvered officials for a long time. Unafraid for his life, he traveled throughout the city to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, and care for the poor. Despite physical suffering, he did good work and always did so with a light heart and smile on his face.
"If I meet any long-faced saints there in heaven, I will cheer them up with a Mexican hat dance!" (Bl. Miguel Pro)
After giving my oldest son the middle name "Miguel" for this merry saint, I was visited by a very elderly parishioner who had met Bl. Miguel. When she was a very small child in Mexico, she had accompanied her mother to visit the incarcerated priest, and she recalled his warmth and humor despite his harsh surroundings.
Even as Bl. Miguel Pro stood before the firing squad for a crime he did not commit, he acted with grace and faith. He died after praying and forgiving those who were to kill him and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey!" then outstretched his hands and was martyred.
If you do not know about this marvelous Mexican priest and martyr, I encourage you to read about him and get to learn more about him. A good starting point for almost all things Miguel is the Blessed Miguel site once maintained by Ann Ball (may she rest in peace) and now under the direction of Lawrence LeLeux and Father Ray Bucko.
Author Ann Ball's site has a page dedicated to this "merry Mexican saint. Though she is now with the angels, a priest friend continues running her site and spreading the word of Blessed Miguel Pro.
You may also be interested in my activity book, "Celebrating Blessed Miguel Pro: Crafts, Activities and Games," to help children (and their parents) enjoy learning about Blessed Miguel Pro.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe has a page dedicated to the martyr Miguel Pro. The site is in Spanish, but even if you do not speak Spanish, you will enjoy seeing the rare images of Miguel Pro's belongings, including the sweater that he wore, the pocket watch he had, etc.
Get the superquick rundown of his life in a short video by the Catholic News Agency: (Please note: If you have small children, you may want to preview this alone first; remember that Bl. Miguel Pro was martyred.)
Paper Dali is placed under Bl. Miguel Pro's patronage.
Viva Cristo Rey!