Saint Of The Month

St. Martin De Porres (A.D. 1639)

He was born in Lima in Peru in 1579, the natural child of John de Porres (Porras), a Spanish knight, and a coloured freed-woman from Panama, Anna by baptism. Young Martin inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother, which was a matter of vexation to the noble Porres, who nevertheless acknowledged the boy and his sister as his children, but eventually left Martin to the care of his mother. When he was twelve she apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon; but three years later, having received the habit of the third order of St. Dominic, he was admitted to the Rosary convent of the Friars Preachers at Lima, eventually becoming a professed lay-brother.

Martin extended his care of the sick to those of the city, and was instrumental in establishing an orphanage and foundling hospital, with other charitable institutions attached; he was given the office of distributing the convent's daily alms of food to the poor (which he is said sometimes to have increased miraculously); and he took upon himself to care for the slaves who were brought to Peru from Africa.

Brother Martin's charity embraced the lower animals (which seems to have surprised the Spaniards) and even vermin, excusing the depredations of rats and mice on the ground that the poor little things were insufficiently fed, and he kept a 'cats' and dogs 'home' at his sister's house.

St. Martin was a close friend of St. Rose of Lima as well as of Bd John Massias, who was a lay-brother at the Dominican priory of St. Mary Magdalen in the same town. Martin was at the Rosary priory, and he died there on November 3, 1639; he was carried to his grave by prelates and noblemen. He was beatified in 1837, after long delays, and canonized on May 6, 1962. He is patron of social justice.

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