Tuesday 22 November 2022

Padre Pro Mexican Hero - Fanchon Royer - Portraits in Faith and Freedom

Padre Pro Mexican Hero
Portraits in Faith and Freedom
Fanchon Royer
James J. Fox (Illustrator)
Bethlehem Books
ISBN 9781932350586

I was recently asked if I had ever read and reviewed any books in this series, at the time I had not. I read Joseph the Huron by Antoinette Bosco first and loved it so much I have now read this one and already have 2 others in my to be read pile. Several volumes in the series grabbed my attention. I was asked by someone who had enjoyed my reviews of the Encounter the Saints books by Pauline Books and Media, and who was following now my reviews on the Vision Books for Young Readers now from Ignatius Press to read and review come books in this series. I am very thankful they did, my plan is to read about 1 a week until I have finished the 18 currently available, I hope by then there will be more volumes in the series available. I will note these versions are not available on Amazon, but are very reasonable from the publisher in print or eBook editions. This volume was originally published in 1963 by P. J. Kenedy & Sons. This edition from Bethlehem Books is revised, it has added maps, and other additional material was released in 2016. It is part of the Portraits in Faith and Freedom series and is part of Set 3 Spanish And Mexican Heroes. Over the last few years I have read a few volumes about Catholics in Mexico specifically in and around the time of the Cristero War, and this one has fueled my desire to read even more about those times. Based on how good the two volumes I have read so far have been, I plan on reading all in the set and likely all in the whole series.

The description of this volume is:

“There are two doorways into the life of the gallant Mexican priest Padre Pro. One doorway begins at the end, during an intense period of anti-Catholicism in Mexico, in the high public drama of a daring young priest’s use of disguises and audacious risks to secretly carry communion to the faithful, with his subsequent capture and courageous death. The other doorway starts in the heart of Miguel’s closely knit, devout family. Born in 1891, by fifteen, Miguel is at once a beloved son and a mischievous rascal. Rather than attending school far away from the affectionate society of his sisters and brothers, he assists his father, an agent assigned to a remote mining camp in Zacatecas. His family begins to worry when at twenty the generous, yet often moody, young man still has no idea about the direction his future should take. Then he knows. Miguel’s journey to the priesthood is plagued by difficulties and setbacks that temper and transform the mischievous youth into Padre Pro, a man ready to lay down his life for Christ his King. Blessed Miguel Pro dies before a firing squad in Mexico City in 1927, this last unforgettable triumph-in-death photographed for posterity by his very enemies. Padre Miguel Pro was beatified in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

Mexico, 1891-1927.”

The chapters in this volume are:

1. The Boy Who Didn’t Go to School
2. The Brewing Storm
3. Farewell to the Mines
4. The Decision
5. Troubled Novitiate
6. The Teacher
7. Perilous Mission
8. Return to Danger
9. The Bomb That Backfired
10. A Prize for Plutarco
11. “Viva Christ the King!”
12. Mexico Hails Her Martyr 
About the Author
Historical Insights by Daria Sockey

At the beginning of the volume are several sections they are:

Web Resources

And at the end of the volume:

About the Author
Historical Insights by Daria Sockey
List of titles in Portraits in Faith and Freedom

Those sections at the beginning of the book are excellent for helping young readers, for use in the classroom or for home schooling. The downloadable resources are top quality. And the additional information at both the beginning and end of the story are greatly beneficial for readers of all ages. There are several subjects in this series that I am familiar with a few I have read a number of books about. This was my first encounter with Padre Pro, in fact because of my dyslexia I first read the title as Padre Pio, but reread it after reading the subtitle of Mexican Her . I devoured this volume over a few sittings. I just could not put it down. It is a story of the faith and devotion that grew from a rocky start. It is a story of great faith, devotion and sacrifice. 

The writing is engaging, and the biography is wonderfully written. It was well researched,The Historical Insights section at the end of the volume is a great starting point for young readers. It is a wonderful story of faith, commitment to family, friends, and service and. In the Historical insights section, we are informed that:

“In the end, the hatred of Calles & company for the Catholic faith wasn’t due to the existence of a fat bishop or two, nor of perceived historic wrongs. It was that the Catholic Faith, even without material or political advantages, was still firmly ingrained in the culture of Mexico, and forever written in the hearts of the people. Poor Calles! He could not see what the people saw: that despite the Church’s human failings, Jesus Christ—poor, despised and suffering with them—was incarnate there. Jesus Christ, who was granting them dignity and hope in a way that no political leader ever could, because He, the God of Heaven, had once come to earth to be one of them. And continued to come to them in the Blessed Eucharist, so long as courageous priests like Miguel Pro were in their midst. It is no wonder that the people of Mexico, poor and powerless as they were, could endure all things until the powers that be became too tired to fight back any longer.”

This book, and series is attempting to bring back into print a volume that is a great read for tweens and teens today. It is also another important read for us older folks. The example of Padre Pro’s faith and growth is inspiring. This is a volume any Catholic would benefit from reading and it leaves you desperate to read others in the set and the series. Another excellent read that I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan

Books in the Portraits in Faith and Freedom Series:
Set 1: Founding Voices For Freedom In The U.S.
Charles Carroll and the American Revolution - Milton Lomask
Priest, Patriot and Leader: The Story of Archbishop Carroll - Eva K. Betz
Mathew Carey: Pamphleteer for Freedom - Jane F. Hindman

Set 2: Polish Advocates Of Hope And Nationhood
The Lion of Poland: The Story of Paderewski - Ruth and Paul Hume

Set 3: Spanish And Mexican Heroes
The Sea Tiger: The Story of Pedro Menéndez - Frank Kolars

Set 4: Women Of Faith And Courage
Star of the Mohawk: Kateri Tekakwitha - Francis MacDonald
Margaret Haughery: Bread Woman of New Orleans - Flora Strousse
The Door of Hope: The Story of Katharine Drexel - Katherine Burton

Set 5: Missionaries On The Frontier
Simon Bruté and the Western Adventure - Elizabeth Bartelme
Frontier Priest and Congressman: Father Gabriel Richard, S.S. - Brother Alois
Black Robe Peacemaker: Pierre De Smet - J. G. E. Hopkins

Set 6: New York Ambassadors Of Brotherhood
Pierre Toussaint: Pioneer in Brotherhood - Arthur and Elizabeth Sheehan
John Hughes: Eagle of the Church - Doran Hurley
Alfred E. Smith: Sidewalk Statesman - William G. Schofield

Other books about Catholic Mexican History:
The Mexican Crisis Its Causes and Consequences - Rev. Michael Kenny, S.J., Ph.D.
Blood-Drenched Altars: A Catholic Commentary on the History of Mexico - Francis Kelley
Saints and Sinners in the Cristero War: Stories of Martyrdom from Mexico - James Murphy 

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