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St. Martin de Porres: Friend of All (Even the Mice!)

Martin-de-porresSt.Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in the year 1579; he is known as the first black saint of the Americas.

After the birth of his sister, his father abandoned the family, leaving them in poverty. At the age of 12, Martin’s mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon, from whom he learned to both cut hair and draw blood and administer anesthetic.

As a child, Martin was very close to God and very humble. He gave to the poor when he was able and had a deep love for everyone of every walk of life. When he grew up, he joined the Dominicans as a lay helper, doing little chores such as gardening, cooking, nursing the sick  or anything else that was needed. Eventually, the abbot made him a brother, in spite of unjust civil laws forbidding black and mulatto people from joining religious orders.

St. Martin was kind to everyone; he helped in every way that he felt that he could. Often, he would bring home the poor and give them his own bed. He even had compassion for stray dogs and cats, sending them to live in his sister’s home (with her permission!). Often, rather than killing the mice, he would lead them to a separate area far away from the monastery and feed them there so they wouldn’t go back to the monastery.

God gave Martin many spiritual gifts as well: bilocation (being in two places at the same time), healing, and levitating in prayer. It is said that often money and food would multiply with his prayers. For this reason, he was very successful in fundraising. He also opened an orphanage and hospital. Though Martin jokingly referred to himself as “Brother Broom,” the people of Lima called him “Martin of Charity.”

St.Martin died in 1639 and people immediately began to call him a saint.

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