New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bl. Miguel Pro

Here is a comparatively rare event in the history of the Church: a camera is witness to a martyrdom. The whole affair was orchestrated in 1927 by a fierce enemy of the Church whose savage blows only served to strengthen and glorify both her and the individual victims of his wrath.

A sketch of Bl. Miguel Pro's life brings to mind the story of his spiritual forbears, the martyr-priests in post-Reformation England. Like them, he lived at a time when his nation's leaders turned against the Church. The young Jesuit novice went into exile during the Mexican revolution; like many seminarians during the English persecution, Miguel Pro had to study for the priesthood abroad; he was ordained in Belgium on August 31, 1925. Like his English forbears, Fr. Pro conducted his ministry on the sly, and frequently in disguise.

Fr. Pro was known not only for his devotion and prayerfulness, but also for his wit, his playfulness and his good cheer, especially in the face of a distressing stomach ailment. He was much loved; however, he was eventually betrayed to the authorities and ultimately condemned to death on a trumped-up charge of attempting to assassinate the vice-president.

On the day of Fr. Pro's execution by firing squad, the fiercely anti-Catholic president Plutarcho Calles brought the press out to photograph the event, secure in the belief that he would thereby prove that impending death reduced Catholics to sniveling cowards. In the first photograph above, we see Fr. Pro praying, the picture of serenity in the face of the violent death from which he is only moments away. The next photograph shows Fr. Pro confronting the firing squad, sans blindfold, his arms raised in the form of the cross, with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other. Fr. Pro forgave his executioners; and as they took aim, he shouted his last words, "¡Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!)." The firing squad was so shaken by his courage that it succeeded only in wounding him; in the final photograph, a soldier dispatches the fallen priest at point-blank range.

Naturally, these photographs had the opposite effect to that intended; Plutarcho Calles ended up confiscating and outlawing them. And Calles obviously did not succeed in entirely destroying the camera's witness to Fr. Pro's courage, since they survive down to the present day.

(Courtesy[V for Victory!] blog )

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