The Saint Who Shows His Love to All God's Creatures

Saint Martin de Porres

Feast Day: 3rd November

Born in Peru in 1579 to a Spanish nobleman who married a free woman, Martin de Porres was black like his mother and, because of this, his father refused to acknowledge him until many years later. He was a man who thought little of his own comforts and was always ready to help any person or beast who suffered.

At a very young age Martin was apprenticed to a barber, a profession which included surgical and medical skills. At the age of 15 he applied to join the Dominicans, content to sweep floors and clean toilets.

When his superior learnt that he possessed medical skills he was put in charge of the infirmary. He cured people not only with his herbal remedies, but through the miraculous powers God had given him. The touch of his hand or his presence was enough to heal people, both in the monastery and on the streets of Lima, even giving up his bed for a sick person.

His superior tried to confine his activity but Martin disobeyed him.
Naturally his superior was furious. Defending his action he said, "Forgive my mistake, and please be kind enough to instruct me. I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” Those words changed the attitude of his superior.

Once when the monastery was in debt, Martin offered himself to be sold as a slave.

It was those whom society had not time for like the Indians, the poor and the sick that Martin gave his special love. He felt he had a special ministry to the African slaves, to whom he would give food and drink. But his love extended to all God's creatures including dogs, donkeys and turkeys. Once in the monastery it was discovered a dog, cat and mouse eating simultaneously from the same bowl that Martin provided!

The people of Lima regarded him as one of God's special friends. Many miracles were attributed to him. Besides his powers of clairvoyance and healing, he was known to levitate while praying. He was also known to bilocate. While being present in Lima he was seen to be in places like China, Mexico and North Africa.

He was very generous to others but harsh on himself. He lived on bread and water. He slept on the ground, wore a hair shirt and flogged his body. When questioned as to why he would just mumble something about making reparation for numerous sins, those of his own and others, that were committed.

He died on 3 November, aged 60, and everyone in Lima, from the viceroy to the beggars, mourned his passing and proclaimed him a saint. In 1962 he was canonised by Pope John XXIII who named him the patron of all who work for social justice.

On this feast of Saint Martin de Porres we could ask God to give us the gift of compassion for all His creatures, to feel for the underdog, and to be ready to help whenever and wherever this is possible.