Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
For a large part of the liturgical year, we devote ourselves to listening to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects unfolded as we seek God's truth and understanding.
Martin de Porres, Religious, 1579-1639
Martin was the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight and a freed Panamanian slave. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, he was part of the poorest and lowest level of society. At the age of twelve, Martin was apprenticed by his mother to a barber-surgeon where he learned to cut hair and to provide medical treatment.
After a few years, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a "lay-helper" because he didn't himself feel worthy to be a religious brother. He often spent his nights in prayer, while his days were filled with caring for the sick and the poor. He founded an orphanage and looked after the slaves brought from Africa. Martin became the procurator for both the priory and the city of Lima and supplied whatever was asked of him, whether it was "blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!" After nine years, his example of prayer and penance, charity and humility, led his religious community to ask Martin to make a full religious profession.
God chose to give Martin extraordinary gifts: ecstasies which lifted him into the air; light which filled the room where he prayed; miraculous knowledge; instantaneous cures; and remarkable control over animals. Although many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, Martin continued to call himself a "poor slave."
At his canonization, Pope John XXIII said of Martin, "He forgave the bitterest injuries...He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly, he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing, and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes...thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: Martin of Charity.”
St. Martin de Porres is the patron saint of interracial justice. An optional memorial on November 3 honors him.
Martin's message today: All of us are children of God and all of us deserve justice in our dealings with others. Martin cared not whether those he helped were slaves or free men, rich or poor. If they needed his help, he was available to them. We should do no less.