18 September 2009
Saint Juan Macias
18 SEPTEMBER 2009. Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Juan Macias, a lay brother who was born in Spain and evangelized Peru through his prayer and good works.
Brother Macias was born at Ribera del Fresno, Estramadura, Spain on 2 March 1585. At the age of 4 he was orphaned. Then, raised by an uncle, the Saint was trained as a young man to be a shepherd. At the age of 25, Juan Macias went to work for a wealthy business man who offered him the opportunity to travel to South America. Although it took some time, he traveled from Spain to South America, finally arriving in Lima, Peru where he observed the work of the Dominican missionaries there. Apparently, Brother Macias had a vision some twenty years earlier that commanded him to go to Peru. So, upon arriving in Lima and witnessing the work of the Dominicans he expressed a strong desire to join the Order.
However, first in Peru, having worked as a shepherd in Spain, Juan Macias worked with the local shepherds on the outskirts of town. During this time of work as a shepherd, Juan Macias was known for his piety, and eventually gave all that he owned to the poor. On 23 January 1622 Brother Macias was admitted to the Order, at the friary of Santa Maria Magdalena, as a cooperator brother and accepted the habit. He professed his final vows a year later on 25 January 1623.
For 20 years Brother Macias was the friary porter. He strongly desired a solitary life, once confessing this desire to Father Abbot Ramirez, but his faithfulness to his vow of obedience overcame his natural inclinations. As the friary porter, Brother Macias was continually helping the poor and needy that daily arrived at the friary's gates. He provided material assistance and was known too for his good and kind counsel. While the poor and needy daily flocked to Brother Macias at the friary gates, he was also sought out by the rich and powerful for his counsel.
In addition to his work as the friary porter, Brother Macias was known for his visions and endlessly praying the rosary. He offered all of his prayers for the release of the souls in purgatory, and tradition tells that more than a million souls were freed with the assistance of his prayer. Saint Martin de Porres was a contemporary and friend of Brother Macias.
Saint Juan Macias died on 16 September 1645 at the age of 60. In 1837 he was beatified by Pope Pius VII. Several miracles were attributed to Saint Juan Macias both during his life and after his death. Pope Paul VI canonized Saint Juan Macias in 1975.
IMAGE: Statue of Saint Juan Macias.