Martin de Porres (Feast Day November 3) was born in 1579 in Lima, Peru, and died in 1639, having never left his home city. He was the illegitimate son of a freed slave and is the patron saint of mixed race peoples, race relations, and social justice. At a young age, he was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon and later, after he had become a Dominican brother, was given the duties of running the infirmary and caring for the sick. He begged for alms and was able to give large amounts of food, clothing, and even dowries for poor young girls, away to the needy. Martin was a lover of animals and did not eat meat. Even during his lifetime, his holiness was renowned, and he is said to have been witnessed levitating during prayer, passing through locked doors to tend to the sick, miraculously healing illnesses, and bi-locating to such distant places as Africa and Asia. In art, he is often pictured with a broom or a dog, cat, and mouse eating from the same dish. Martin’s holiness shone through his humility, his patience, and his tender compassion for all children of God. Though reports of miracles attributed to his intercession and requests for his beatification abounded almost immediately after his death, he was not officially canonized until 1962.
Questions for Reflection:
- Martin treated everyone with dignity and care, regardless of their racial or economic background. Who do you think lives on the margins of our society today?
- How might you respond to them with the same compassion that Martin showed?