St. Martin de Porres
"Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten of God and has knowledge of God," [1 John 4:7]
St. Martin of Porres spent his life administering to the poor and sick as a Dominican lay brother in the Convent of the Friars Preachers in Lima, Peru. His thoughtfulness, selflessness, humility, kindness, and dedication to prayer and serving others are an inspiration for Mother of Light Center and Catholics worldwide.
Juan Martin de Porres Velázquez, son of a Spanish nobleman and freed slave, was born in Lima, Peru, on December 9, 1579. He grew up in poverty, but did receive some schooling and, at the age of 12, apprenticed to be a barber-surgeon. Within three years, he volunteered as a donado, and later as an almoner, of the Order of St. Dominic, which then, for a person of African or Indian descent, was the only path into a monastery. As a child he acquired the habit of praying late into the night, which he continued to do throughout the rest of his life.
In his initial years at the monastery, St. Martin served as a barber and healer, and performed various tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. He sometimes was faced with persecution, due to his mixed heritage, but won the respect of his peers with his dedication, humility, and selfless service to all human beings, rich and poor alike. On learning the convent was in debt, he asked to be sold into slavery; his superior was quite amazed, but denied the request.
When St. Martin was 24, the prior of St. Dominic, Juan de Lorenzana, decided to turn a blind eye to laws restricting African and Indian participation in the sacrament of Holy Orders, and so St. Martin took his vows as a member of the third order of St. Dominic. Recognizing St. Martin's patience and drive, the Convent placed him in charge of daily alms of food for the poor, and he not only raised and distributed enough to feed a hundred and sixty people a day, but also founded an orphanage. The Convent then placed him in the infirmary, where he became known for his tireless and courageous care of the sick, and soon became widely known around the world for miracles of healing. His kindness extended to animals, and he kept a refuge for cats and dogs.
St. Martin is credited with the miracle of bilocation. He died on November 3, 1639.
He was beatified in 1837, and canonized as a Saint in 1962. Images of him appear with a broom, symbolizing menial labor; a crucifix, symbolizing his dedication to holy life; hospital infirmary in the background; and, in the foreground: a cat, dog, mouse, and bird eating from the same plate.
St. Martin is the patron saint of public health workers and social justice.
His Feast Day is celebrated on November 3rd.
"Wisdom from above...is first of all innocent. It is also peaceable, lenient, docile, rich in sympathy and the kindly deeds that are its fruits, impartial and sincere. The harvest of justice is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace." [James 3:17-18]
For further information, go to the following:
1. Porres - "Martin de Porres," last modified January 6, 2016,
2. Butler's Lives of the Saints: Concise Edition. Walsh, Michael, ed., New York: Harper-Collin, 1991
3. DVD, “Pray Martin de Porres,” directed by Calixto Sanchez, Raymundo. Studio Latino, 2007