John of Prado was born to a noble family in Spain. After studies at Salamanca University he became an Observant Franciscan. Though he wished to pursue mission work in North Africa, his superiors instead gave him preaching assignments at home. He filled various offices in his order, though at one time he was removed from office on account of some unfounded accusation. After his eventual vindication, he was given a new assignment as minister of the province of San Diego.
A number of Franciscans at the time were working in Morocco, particularly among Christian slaves. When they all died during an outbreak of plague, John asked permission to replace them. Pope Urban VIII named him apostolic missionary, and he set off with two companions. In Morocco he managed to gain access to the Christian slaves and ministered to them, bolstering their faith and providing the sacraments.
When his activities were discovered, he was imprisoned in chains and forced to turn a grindstone. Brought before the sultan, he proclaimed his faith and refused to apostatize. After being scourged he was again returned for examination. This time John began to preach to the audience, which included a number of Christian apostates. This enraged the sultan, who struck him to the ground and ordered his execution. He was burned alive in the public square, all the while singing Christ’s praises.
John of Prado was beatified in 1728.
“God wills that I should suffer. May His will be done.”
—Blessed John of Prado