A brief biography.
Juan Macias (John Massias) was born in Ribera de Fresno, Estramadura, Spain, as the son of Pedro Arcas and Inés Sánchez on 2 March 1585. He was orphaned at the age of four and adopted by his uncle, for whom he tended sheep as a child.
Juan experienced visions from heavenly patrons, the most significant and frequent being his namesake St. John the Evangelist.
When Juan Macias was twenty years old, he went to Mass in the church of the Dominicans in a neighbouring city. For a moment it seemed that his vocation was to join the Friars Preachers at that Priory, but a vision bade him journey southward and take a ship for "distant lands."
In 1619 he embarked for the Indies, where many Spaniards were going, either to convert the indigenous people or to seek a fortune. After a long, stormy transatlantic crossing, Juan reached Cartagena (Colombia) and after a long hike Lima (Peru) where for two years he herded cattle in the green foothills of the snow-capped Andes. But Juan yearned for more in his life and this desire led him to the Dominicans in Lima.
There were four priories of the Friars Preachers in Lima at that time: the College of St. Thomas - the house of St. Rose; the priory of the Virgin of the Rosary, where Martin de Porres lived, with the church St.Dominic: and the Priory of St. Mary Magdalen, which was small and poor.
Juan decided to enter the Dominicans at the Priory St. Mary Magdalen and he received the habit of a lay brother on February 2, 1622.
Juan began a life of prayer and penance. "I began to pray six or seven hours daily and truly the time seemed to me like fifteen minutes." Juan was plagued by temptations. He was attacked bodily and tossed about by the devil who tried to disturb his inner peace and union with God.
Juan was appointed assistant to the porter and lived in the gatehouse. It was there that the poor came begging for food, and the rich for advise. Juan loved the poor who flocked to the Priory gates. Rising at 4 A.M., he would prepare and serve meals to more than two hundred people daily. He would send his donkey to various parts of the city loaded with two large hampers of food, clothing and medicine, enabling the poor to take what they needed.
Biographers have called him the "Helper of the Poor Souls." Every night he offered three rosaries for them, praying on his knees despite bodily fatigue.
His friend, Saint John the Evangelist revealed to him that his prayers had released more than one million souls from purgatory. Juan Macias practiced severe austerities, he scourged his back every night and maintained an unbroken fast and abstinence.
On September 2, 1645, Juan took ill and was confined to a bed from which he was never to arise. He suffered for two weeks and died on September 16, 1645. He is buried in the church of St. Dominic along side the bodies of Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Martin de Porres. Many cures and other favours have been performed at his tomb.
The Fathers of the General-Chapter in Valencia (Spain), 1647, declared that Juan Macías was a man with great honour by the poor people of Lima. The Fathers of the General-Chapter in Rome,1655, asked the Master of the Order, John Baptist de Marinis, to promote the canonization of Louis Bertrand and the beatification of Juan Macías and Rose of Lima.
Pope Pius VII beatified Juan Macías on 22 October 1837 and pope Paulus VI canonized him on 28 September 1975.
Perca, O.P., Guillermo Alvarez: Historia de la Orden Dominicana en el Peru. Siglos XVI-XVII. Lima 1997, P.237-241.
Juan Macías, portrait by an anonymous painter in the church Santo
Domingo of the priory Santa Maria del Rosario in Lima.
Peru 1975, Mi 1001, Sc 628.
KimCover of the canonization of Juan Macías, O.P.
in Rome by Pope Paul VI on 28th September
Vatican City 1975, 28.9, KimCover
Pope Paul VI, nr 607.
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