John the Baptist Moya
Augustinian Servant of God
John the Baptist Moya (1504-1567) was an Augustinian missionary to the New World. As he labored at evangelizing the native peoples of Mexico, his respect for them and his untiring work for their welfare were notable.
John the Baptist Moya was born in Jaén, Spain in 1504. He studied in Salamanca, and it was there that he joined the Augustinians in 1522.
He was part of the first group of Augustinian missionaries to be sent to Mexico. They planned to leave Spain in 1533. The ship they were going to take sunk, however, and the would-be missionaries had to postpone their journey for three years.
At first, John went to bring the Gospel of Christ to what is now the state of Guerrero. Later, he labored in Mexico City and the area called Puebla today. He served as Prior (local superior) of various Augustinian communities.
In 1550, John was named a member of the Province Council. He soon became ill, however, and was sent to Morelia. In 1554, he began the work of evangelization in Tierra Caliente (Hot Land), in the states of Michoacán and Guerrero. He was to remain there for the rest of his life.
A model religious, John observed strictly all the norms of Augustinian life. He lived austerely, having few material goods. He worked constantly at preaching the Word of God and visiting the poor and those in prison. When any of his fellow friars became sick, they could always count on John to care for them.
John respected the culture of the native people to whom he ministered. He learned to speak Otomí and Purépecha, two native languages. He came to appreciate the spirituality of the native cultures and used that foundation to build the Christian faith.
He was responsible for the building of many villages, each with its chapel, clinic and school.
One day, as his health was deteriorating and he was growing weaker, people carried him to Morelia. There, during a celebration of the Christmas custom of the Posadas, John died in 1567. His remains are preserved in Morelia.
The cause for beatification and canonization of John the Baptist Moya was formally opened in 1996. The diocesan investigation in Morelia was concluded in 1997. The Congregation for the Saints in 1998 approved the continuation of the process. Josef Sciberras, O.S.A., the Augustinian Postulator of Causes, oversees the progress of the cause.