Blessed John Macias (1585-1645)

John Masias was born in Ribera, in Spain, and, when very small, he was left an orphan. He was adopted by a kindly uncle who set him to herding his sheep. The little boy was naturally pious, and passed his spare time in saying the Rosary. Our Lady and the Christ Child appeared to him several times, and he was often visited by his patron, St. John the Evangelist, who once showed him a vision of heaven, telling him: “This is my country.”

When John was about twenty, he went to Mass in the church of the Dominicans in a neighboring city. For the moment, it seemed to him that his vocation was joining the Friars Preachers now, but St. John appeared to him, telling him that he must go elsewhere. In 1619 he embarked for the Indies, where many Spaniards were going, either to convert the natives or to seek a fortune. After a long and hazardous journey, he arrived in Lima.

There were at the time four convents of the Friars Preachers in Lima: the College of St. Thomas; the house of St. Rose, where Sister Rose of St. Mary had died just five years before; Santo Domingo or Holy Rosary, where the holy Negro laybrother, Martin de Porres, was performing such astounding miracles; and the convent of St. Mary Magdalen, which was small and poor. John decided to enter St. Mary Magdalen and, in 1622, he received the habit of a laybrother there. On the night of his profession, devils appeared to tempt and reproach him. He was attacked bodily, and, although he called on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph for help, the demons continued what was to become twelve years of torture, by actually throwing him from one cloister to another.

John was appointed assistant to the porter, and lived in the gatehouse. There the poor came for food, and the rich for advice. He became adept at begging for the poor, always managing to find enough for the more than two hundred people who came daily for help. He had little use for the wealthy and curious, and would sometimes baffle them by simply disappearing while they were looking at him. On occasion, his friend and patron, St. John, went out collecting alms for him. Also, legend relates that he had a little burro that he would send out by itself, with a note asking for what was needed in one of the empty panniers on its back. Told where to go, the burro made his route faithfully; and if the rich man on whom he called was ungracious, or even hid himself to avoid giving alms, the little burro made quite a noise, and it quickly brought the desired results.

Rays of light streamed from the blessed’s face as he taught the catechism to the poor, or prayed by himself in the gatehouse. He said an amazing number of rosaries and made no less than twenty daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He is said to have liberated more than a million souls from purgatory, many of whom came back, while he was at prayer, to thank him for his help.

One day a certain ship captain came to the gatehouse and asked to look around. John took him by the arm and led him to the crucifix, warning him to look well on it and think of his sin. Terrified, the captain fell to his knees, confessing that he was an apostate religious, thirty years away from the sacraments, and he begged for a priest. On another occasion, the brothers were building a flight of steps and, having measured a beam wrong, they were annoyed because it did not fit. John took the beam in his hands and stretched it to fit their needs. These, and many other miracles, led people to venerate him as a saint during his lifetime. His recreation was to talk of the things of God with the other holy laybrother, Martin de Porres.

At the time of his death, Our Lady, St. Dominic, his patron, St. John, and many other saints, came to accompany him to heaven. They were seen by some of the brothers.

(Source : Dorcy, Marie Jean. St. Dominic’s Family. Tan Books and Publishers, 1983)