St Martin de Porres


Feast Day: November 3
Canonized: May 6, 1962
Beatified: October 29, 1837

Some people do good no matter what happens to them. Martin de Porres did. His mother was an African or Indian from Panama, a former slave. His father was a Spanish soldier and nobleman. So people made fun of Martin because he came from two different races.

What did Martin do? He blessed his enemies; he did good to those who laughed at him. Was this easy? No. But Martin simply loved to do good.

Martin was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father left his family when Martin was eight. This left Martin and his baby sister and their mother very poor. But Martin still gave away whatever he could to other hungry and poor people.

When he was 12, Martin went to work for a barber. He learned to cut hair and to heal wounds. Later, Martin wanted to join the Dominicans in their work. He was allowed to work with them as a servant who swept floors and answered the door (at the time, the law in Peru did not allow persons of other races or mixed race to enter religious life). Finally his years of good works and miraculous cures led the Dominicans to allow him to become a lay brother, but even some of his fellow Dominicans still scorned him.

He eventually founded orphanages for homeless children and cared for lonely African slaves who had been forced to come to Lima. He gave shirts to those who had no clothes; bread to those who had no food; shelter to those who had no homes. One of his closest friends was St. Rose of Lima.

In 1639, Martin died. Everyone in Lima mourned him, even bishops and members of the royal court in Lima. In 1962, the Church declared that Martin de Porres was a saint. Many statues of St. Martin de Porres show him holding a broom, with a dog, cat, and mouse at his feet; he loved animals and was said to have solved a rat problem by simply asking the rats to leave. The house where he was born has been well preserved in Lima.

He is the patron saint of persons of mixed race and of those who suffer from discrimination.