Saint Martin de Porres

Feast Day: November 3rd

Timeline
17th Century

LIFE

Saint Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, during the days when Spanish noblemen and many adventurers were still in the land, fascinated by the lure of the gold and silver which abounded there. His father was a Spanish knight and his mother was a freed African slave woman. It was not long before his dark complexion caused his father to be ashamed of him and his mother, and to abandon them. Later the father would regret his too rapid decision, and take Martin under his protection.

The young boy often heard himself referred to as a half-breed, and all his life long, his profound humility saw in himself only the magnanimity of God amid the inadequacy of his origins. When his mother could not support him and his sister, Martin was confided to a primary school for two years, then placed with a surgeon to learn the medical arts. This caused him great joy, though he was only ten years old, for he could exercise charity to his neighbor while earning his living. Martin was often in prayer and performed penances for his own wrongdoings and for others.

He asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a tertiary. When he was 24, he was given the habit of a Coadjutor Brother and assigned to the infirmary of that convent, where he would remain in service until his death at the age of sixty. His superiors saw in him the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role, and he never disappointed them.

When an epidemic struck Lima, there were in this single convent of the Rosary sixty religious who were sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the convent, separated from the professed. Saint Martin is known to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was observed in the residence more than once. The professed, too, saw him suddenly beside them without the doors having been opened; and these facts were duly verified by the surprised Superiors. Martin continued to transport the sick to the convent until the provincial Superior, alarmed by the contagion threatening the religious, forbid him to continue to do so. His sister, who lived in the country, offered her house to lodge those whom the residence of the religious could not hold.

In normal times Saint Martin succeeded with his alms to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent — the latter phenomenon hard to explain by ordinary calculations. To Saint Martin, the city of Lima owed a famous residence founded for orphans and abandoned children, where they were formed in piety for a creative Christian life. This lay Brother had always wanted to be a missionary, but never left his native city; yet even during his lifetime he was seen elsewhere, in regions as far distant as Africa, China, Algeria, Japan. An African slave who had been in irons said he had known Martin when he came to relieve and console many like himself, telling them of heaven. When later the same slave saw him in Peru, he was very happy to meet him again and asked him if he had had a good voyage; only later did he learn that Saint Martin had never left Lima. A merchant from Lima was in Mexico and fell ill; he said aloud: Oh, Brother Martin, if only you were here to care for me..! and immediately saw him enter his room. This man also did not know until later that Martin had never been in Mexico.

When he died in 1639, Saint Martin was known to the entire city of Lima; word of his miracles had made him known as a Saint to every resident of the region. After his death, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and found intact, and exhaling a fine fragrance.

Patronage

African Americans - Barbers - Hairdressers -
Race Relations - Radio - Social Justice

Source: sanctoral.com

SETTING

Birthplace

Born

9 December 1579
Lima, Peru

Death

3 November 1639 (Age 59)
Lima, Peru

Canonized

6 May 1962 (Pope John XXIII)

Shrine/Relics/Tomb

Basilica and Convent of Santo Domingo, Lima, Peru

Info

Son of a freed African slave woman and a Spanish knight, Saint Martin was given the habit of a Coadjutor Brother and assigned to the infirmary of the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima, where he would remain in service until his death. He was very charitable towards everyone and cared for anyone who was in need, including animals.