A Bit About Saint Martin de Porres

I have a friend who also has a love for studying various beliefs and religions.  She really loves to study and can recite many things about Saints and Angels.  She gives me tidbits of information which peaks my interest and then I go on a research spree to find out more.  I may be odd, but I find this type of thing so fascinating!  So I am sharing a little bit of information that I found out and will leave it up to you if you want to research it further.

One of my now favorite saints is Saint Juan Martin de Porres, born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on December 9, 1579.  He grew up in poverty, his father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother was a freed black slave woman from Panama.  When his mother could no longer support him, Martin was sent to a primary school for two years then was placed in the care of a surgeon – barber to learn the medical arts.  He spent many hours and in prayer and at the age of 15 years old was admitted to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima where he was first received as a servant boy. 

He later became a member of the Dominican Order and was received as a tertiary.  Because of his amazing spirit of devotion and miraculous cures, his superiors dropped the racial limitations on admission to the friars for him and made him a full Dominican.  

At the age of 34, Martin was assigned to the infirmary, where he showed everyone around him what compassion, faithfulness, mercy and unfailing patience means.  Saint Martin cared for the sick in a time when most were closing their doors; he was known to take a beggar, almost naked and covered with ulcers by the hand to his own bed to care for him.  When questioned by his superiors he said, “My brethren, compassion is preferable to cleanliness.”

When an epidemic struck Lima, sixty friars became ill, many of them novices at the time.  They were quarantined and locked in a distant section of the convent to prevent the spread of the contagion.   It is said that many witnessed Martin appearing by their bed sides to take care of them without the doors having been unlocked.  When his superiors forbade him to bring any more sick into the monastery he took them to his sister’s house to care for them.  He was to be reprimanded for his disobedience, but stated, “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.”  Being unable to argue the point further the superior gave him liberty to follow his heart and exercise mercy.

 Martin distributed remarkable sums of money to help the poor daily.  There are many miracles said to be in connection with Martin de Porres throughout his life and even in the event of his death.  The statues and pictures of him depict him as a Dominican brother, with a black scapula, and capuce, with a broom, since he considered all work to be sacred, and shown with a dog, a cat and a mouse eating in peace from the same dish. 

 St. Martin de Porres was canonized in 1763 by Pope Clement XIII and beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI.  He is the patron saint of people of mixed race, and of inn keepers, barbers, public health workers, and is known for his great love for all creatures great and small.

What a wonderful legacy to be known for your love and compassion, you don’t have to be a saint for that.  What a wonderful story of a young man more concerned with the welfare of the people and creatures around him than any limitations that man might put in his way.  The world surely needs more people willing to show such bravery and an abundance of charity and compassion on a daily basis.

Here are a few links if you would like further information.




 Cherry Coley ©


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