Dominican Saints 101: St. Juan Macias

September 18, 2011

St. Juan Macias (1585-1645, feast day – Sept. 18) lived in Lima, Peru at the same time as St. Martin de Porres and only 5 years after the death of St. Rose of Lima.  Originally from Spain, St. Juan Macias first met the Dominicans at the age of 16 but was told in a revelation that he wasn’t to enter yet.  Later, he traveled to the New World, and at the age of 35, he entered the Dominican convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Lima (St. Martin was in the convent of Santo Domingo, otherwise known as Holy Rosary) as a laybrother (cooperator brothers were called laybrothers then). Now while many historians might try to avoid talk of miracles and the supernatural and look solely at the heroic sanctity of saints, sometimes it is good to look at how God can work in these scientifically unexplainable ways.  And even though St. Juan Macias wasn’t known to be a miracle worker of the magnitude of saints like St. Vincent Ferrer or St. Martin de Porres, he still lived a life full of supernatural graces. For instance, he was attacked by demons from the moment that he enter the Order, he had visions of St. John the Evangelist throughout his life, he would disappear when the overly curious or wealthy were looking at him, and he was visited by many of the souls whom he had liberated from Purgatory (he is said to have freed more than a million through his prayers and sacrifices – talk about devotion to the souls in Purgatory). He was well known mainly for two things during his life.  First, he was known to love the Rosary, which he began to pray as a child in Spain while he shepherded his uncle’s flock of sheep.  He would pray the Rosary constantly, especially when he had any moment of free time.  Secondly, he was known for his generosity to the poor, 200 of whom he fed every day.  He was greatly aided in this by his little donkey that he sent through Lima.  He had a little sign which put on it asking for donations for the poor.  The donkey, knowing his route perfectly, would travel through the streets and come back with benefactions for the city’s poor.  Often the donkey would stop at certain locations and make loud noises so that the people inside would come out to make their donations. St. Juan Macias was beatified with St. Martin de Porres in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and was canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. O God, you went before the blessed confessor, John, in the fullness of your grace, and willed that he should flourish in a humble state of life by the radiance of his ways; grant us, we beg, to tread in his steps that we may reach you with unsullied souls.

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