December 9th : Servant of God Peter Mayoral, SJ

Servant of God Peter Mayoral, SJ

Born : Oct 16,1678
Died : Dec 9, 1754

Peter Mayoral, a famous Chilean missionary, was born in Madrid, Spain and entered the Society at nineteen after he studied at the Jesuit college in Madrid.

In 1698 he was sent to Buenos Aires for the mission in Chile where after completing his studies in philosophy and theology, he was ordained in Santiago de Chile on July 26, 1708.

Although Fr Mayoral’s health was never robust, he lived an active missionary life working among the warlike Araucanian Indians, who for two centuries had successfully prevented the Spaniards from converting and civilizing them. However with dwindling numbers, the Araucanians finally permitted the Spaniards and missionaries to work among them. Thus Fr Mayoral had to work doubly hard at evangelizing and civilizing them as well as carrying out his multiple roles as their pastor, teacher, physician and carpenter. Fr Mayoral knew that to succeed in converting them, he had to live among them, in the same poverty. He had to eat and share their food, endure the same hardships, yet knowing that death was a possibility since working among the Araucanians was difficult and dangerous.

Fr Mayoral was working among the Araucanians in and around San Cristobal, a village south of Concepcion and the intense work took a toll on his health. His superiors sent him to the college at Buena Esperanza, high in the Andes for recuperation. He kept himself busy doing pastoral work but this was stopped when he developed liver problems and stones which forced him to be in bed when attacks came. After suffering for five years, Fr Mayoral died on Dec 9, 1754 with a prayer to St Francis Xavier on his lips.

During his lifetime, Fr Mayoral was known for his humility and practice of poverty and was greatly respected by the people he served for his holiness, his gifts of prophecy and reading of hearts and as a miracle worker. They attributed the survival of the Jesuit College in Buena Esperanza to Fr Mayoral’s prayers, whilst everything around it collapsed and were destroyed during the earthquake of 1751.

Fr Mayoral, at his death, was seventy-six years of age and was a Jesuit for fifty-seven years. His cause was introduced in Rome in 1910.