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Miguel Pro, an indefatigable Jesuit martyred by the Mexican government in 1927 for performing his priestly duties, is an example of Christian heroism in the twentieth century.
Born on January 12, 1891, Miguel Pro Juarez was the eldest son of Miguel Pro and Josefa Juarez. His birthplace, the humble central Mexican village of Gaudalupe, was especially fitting in view of his intense, lifelong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.
Miguelito, as his doting family called him, was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in his mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child he had a daring precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near death accidents and illnesses. On regaining consciousness after one of these episodes, young Miguel opened his eyes and blurted out to his frantic parents, "I want some cocol" (a colloquial term for his favorite sweet bread). "Cocol" became his nickname, which he would later adopt as a code name during his clandestine priestly ministry.
Miguel was particularly close to his older sister and after she entered a cloistered convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular with the senortias and had prospects of a lucrative career managing his father’s thriving business concerns, Miguel renounced everything for the sake of Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in El Llano, Michoacan in 1911.
He studied in Mexico until 1914 when a tidal wave of governmental anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico, forcing the novitiate to disband and the order to flee to Los Gates, California.
In 1915 Miguel was sent to a seminary in Spain, where he remained until 1924. By the time he was ordained a priest in Belgium in 1925, the political situation in Mexico had deteriorated. All Catholic churches were closed. Bishops, priests, and religious were rounded up for deportation or imprisonment. Those caught trying to elude capture were shot. Celebration of the sacraments was punishable by imprisonment or death. The Church was driven underground.