Masías, Juan, St.

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Dominican brother; b. Rivera, Plasencia, Estremadura, Spain, March 2, 1585; d. Lima, Sept. 26, 1645. Orphaned at an early age, Masías worked as a shepherd to help care for his brothers. He continued in this occupation, leading a life of prayer under the patronage of St. John the Evangelist, until he was 21, when he felt inspired to go to America. He sailed from Seville in the service of a merchant, but was abandoned in Cartagena because he was illiterate. From there he made his way to Lima, where he entered the service of Pedro Jiménez Menacho, who put him to work caring for his cattle and sheep in the foothills of San Cristóbal. Again in the solitude of the fields, he resumed his life of prayer.

Masías (Macías) was inspired to ask for admission as a brother to the Recoleta Dominicana de Santa María Magdalena, and he received the habit on Jan. 22, 1622, from the prior, Salvador Ramírez. From his entrance into the order until his death, he served as porter. Every day the poor would come to him to receive bread. The convent in Lima still preserves the basket that he used for this ministration. He spent his free time praying in a hidden place in the orchard, a place he called Gethsemane. Prayer, penance, and charity unified the life of Juan Masías. He was declared blessed by gregory xvi on Jan. 31, 1837, and canonized by Paul VI on Sept. 28, 1975.

Feast: Sept. 18.

Bibliography: j. cipolleti, Vida del Beato Fray Juan Masías (Cuzco 1949). a. lobato, Yo, fray Juan Masías, hermano de los pobres (Caracas 1986). v. osende, Vida del Beato Juan Masías (Lima 1918). m. f. windeatt, Warrior in White: The Story of Blessed John Masias (New York 1944).

[j. m. vargas]