1585 AD (Ribera del Fresno, Spain) – 1645 AD (Lima, Peru)
When saint John Macias was only four years old, he already worked as a shepherd. He would spend the whole day out in the meadows, making sure that the sheep he was looking after were safe and herding them to where they would find tasty grass to eat. As you can imagine, this was hard work, but it also left Saint John with time to think and to pray his favorite prayer. What is your favorite prayer? And do you know what his favorite prayer was? I’ll tell you, it was the Rosary. Do you know how to pray the Rosary? You start by saying the Our Father – the prayer Jesus himself taught us – and then you say the Hail Mary – a beautiful prayer to Jesus’ mum. Praying the Rosary has been a favorite of many saints and if you don’t know it already, ask your mum or dad to teach you.
As Saint John was growing up, he saw that some of his friends didn’t have enough food to eat and he decided that he should share the little he had with them. Have you ever shared your food with someone else? That’s great! And did that make you happy? Helping others is a wonderful thing to do as in each person there is Jesus. And when you help them, you are loving Jesus, which brings great joy. Saint John felt the same, and wherever he went he always helped poor people.
When Saint John grew up, he decided to give his life to Jesus by becoming a monk following the example of Saint Dominic. Do you know what those monks are called? Good guess – they are called Dominicans and their goal is to think about God and then to tell others what they have understood. Many of the great Dominican saints gave great talks about God which helped people live in a better way. What do you think Saint John’s talks were like?
Actually, Saint John didn’t give talks. Instead, he worked as the doorman at his monastery in Lima, the capital of Peru in Latin America. His job was to open the door when someone knocked, which meant that he had to live in a little room right next to the door, so that he would hear the knocking even when someone needed urgent help at night.
Because Saint John loved poor people so much, he always looked for ways to give them some food when they came knocking on the monastery doors. As he didn’t have much food himself, he’d go out into the city and ask the people there to share their food with him, so that he could give it to those who needed it most. The people of Lima were great at helping Saint John and after a while it was enough for Saint John to send his donkey around the city and people would put food into the bags on its back. Like that Saint John not only helped as many as 200 people every day who needed food, but he also helped the people from the city help the poor through him.