Saint of the Day ~ November 3

SAINT MARTIN de PORRES (1569-1639), religious – Patron saint of African-Americans, bi-racial and all black persons, inter-racial and social justice, barbers and Peru

Today, the Church honors Saint Martin de Porres, who lived a life of fasting, prayer and penance as a Dominican lay brother.

Martin was born in Lima, Peru in 1569. He was the son of a Spaniard, Juan de Porres, and Anna Velasquez, who was a young, freed black slave. Martin grew up in poverty, being of mixed race and was therefore considered part of a lower social caste.

He spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick. As a result, Martin became very well known for his compassion and skill as both a barber and the care he gave to many people and also animals.

In 1603, Martin made his vows and became a Third Order Dominican, which meant he was a lay religious associated with the Order, living at the monastery. Though he longed to be a missionary, he was never afforded the opportunity.

Brother Martin established an orphanage and a children’s hospital for the poor children of the slums, and was given the nickname “Brother Martin of Charity”. He also set up a shelter for stray cats and dogs, and nursed those which were injured back to health.

He chose to live in self-imposed austerity, never eating meat and fasting continuously. Whatever free time he had, he spent it in prayer and meditation, with a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

Suffering from a severe fever, Brother Martin de Porres died on November 3, 1639 in Lima, Peru. On October 29, 1837, he was the first black person to be beatified in the Church by Pope Gregory XVI. He was canonized a saint on May 6, 1962 by Pope St. John XXIII. The remains of Saint Martin are interred in the Dominican Monastery in Lima.

We commemorate his feastday on November 3.

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(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Roman Missal for Saint Martin de Porres)

“O God, who led Saint Martin de Porres by the path of humility to Heavenly glory, grant that we may so follow his radiant example in this life as to merit to be exalted with him in Heaven.

“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

2 thoughts on “Saint of the Day ~ November 3

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