Tag Archives: martyr

Miguel Pro (1891-1927)

This heroic Cristo Rey priest gave his life for his faith during government persecution . . .

miguelproFeast Day: November 23
Beatified: September 25, 1988

Many of us often act as though we are afraid of sharing the Gospel. Miguel Pro had reason to fear, but he spread the Word anyway. Miguel was the third of 11 children born to a Mexican business executive and his wife. The family was happy and devout in its faith. However, they paid for their devotion because it came at a time of governmental persecution.

Miguel discerned a priestly vocation and was ordained in Belgium. Upon his return, he had to practice his ministry in secret. He held a retreat for mechanics dressed as a driver to avoid attention. He dressed as a street cleaner or beggar in order to visit homes incognito and administer the sacraments. He even dressed as a policeman to administer Last Rites to some condemned men.

All of this made him the government’s Public Enemy No. 1. Authorities arrested him on trumped up charges and after a kangaroo trial, sentenced him to death. That morning, he bravely walked to the place of execution, blessed his executioners, prayed, stretched out his arms like Christ on the cross, and having shouted his last words, “Viva Cristo Rey! (Long live Christ the King!),” received the bullets that ended his life.

BRIAN O’NEEL is a writer, husband and father of six living in southeast Pennsylvania. His latest book is “39 New Saints You Should Know.”

St. Lorenzo Ruiz (1600-1637)

This remarkable Filipino martyr put his life on the line for Christ in 1637 . . .

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

St. Lorenzo Ruiz

Feast Day: September 28
Canonized: October 18, 1987

Lorenzo Ruiz was a Filipino, fluent in Spanish, who worked as a translator of government documents. His work enabled him to provide for his wife and children. However, he had a well-known feud with a Spanish colonist who inconveniently turned up murdered. Authorities issued an arrest warrant, but Lorenzo doubted the Spaniards’ ability to give him due process, so he hitched what he thought was a ship bound for China.

What he didn’t know was that the vessel was actually headed for Japan, where the rulers had recently outlawed Christianity. Arrested almost immediately, the captives endured unspeakable torture. It got so bad that Lorenzo came close to apostatizing. However, God’s grace strengthened him, and he willingly put his life on the line for Christ. With four other companions, he endured a brutal and torturous death on the “Mountain of Martyrs” in Nagasaki.

St. Lorenzo teaches us the level of commitment the lay faithful must exemplify: to our families, to the truth, and to our holy faith. Such commitment has never been easy — especially in our time. Nonetheless, God will never abandon those who trust in Him.

BRIAN O’NEEL is a writer, husband and father of six living in southeast Pennsylvania. His latest book is“39 New Saints You Should Know.”

Agnes of Rome (291-304 AD)

This young saint’s courage inspired millions over the last two millennia . . .

St. Agnes of Rome

Feast Day: January 21
Canonized: Pre-Congregation

“A new kind of martyrdom!” exclaimed St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan. The assembly cheered and applauded. Ambrose was celebrating St. Agnes because she was a virgin, a martyr — and a child. She was executed in Rome in 304 AD during Emperor Diocletian’s vicious persecution.

Historians say that legends have embroidered the few facts we know about Agnes. But the stories are rooted in actual events. Agnes was a beautiful and soon-to-be marriageable young woman. Many young men pursued her, but she rebuffed them because she had consecrated her virginity to Christ.

One spurned suitor took revenge by reporting to the authorities that Agnes was a Christian. A judge tried to persuade her to recant. He threatened to torture her, but she did not flinch. Then he had her stripped at a brothel and urged young men to seduce her.

“You may stain your sword with my blood,” she said, “but you will never profane my body that I have consecrated to Christ.” All were so stunned by her presence that only one boy tried to touch her. Legend says he was struck blind — and that Agnes healed him.

Exasperated and egged on by her first accuser, the governor ordered her execution. Agnes was taken to the Stadium of Domitian where she courageously faced a nervous soldier who hacked her to death with his sword. Over the centuries, the little virgin martyr became one of the most popular saints in Christian history.

St. Ambrose said that “St. Agnes’ death taught us adults the meaning of valor while she was still a child. Agnes hurried to the place of her execution more joyfully than a bride goes to her wedding. And she was adorned not with plaited hair, but with Christ himself.”

This column is written for Legatus Magazine by Bert Ghezzi. He writes and speaks frequently about saints. Ghezzi’s books include “Voices of the Saints,” “Mystics and Miracles,” and “Saints at Heart.” Online: bertghezzi.com