Saint Martin de Porres, OP

Saint Martin de Porres was born in the city of Lima on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black former slave. Along with Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Martin de Porres was baptized and confirmed by Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo, the Archbishop of Lima.

Martin grew up in poverty and, at some point, was placed with a barber/surgeon to learn the medical arts. Though he was only ten years old, this gave him great joy.

From an early age, Martin spent each night in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, a practice which increased rather than diminished as he grew older.

At the age of 15 Martin asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima. He was received first as a servant boy; and, as his duties grew he was promoted to almoner. Eventually he felt the call to enter the Dominican Order, and he was received as a tertiary. Years later, his piety and miraculous cures led his superiors to drop the racial limits on admission to the friars, and he was made a full Dominican Brother.

When he was 24, after he had been given the habit of a Cooperator Brother, Martin was assigned to the priory.

Martin was a friend of both Saint John de Massias and Saint Rose of Lima. When he died in Lima on November 3, 1639, Martin was known to the entire city. Word of his miracles had made him known as a saint throughout the region. As his body was displayed to allow the people of the city to pay their respects, each person snipped a tiny piece of his habit to keep as a relic. It is said that three habits were taken from the body. His body was then interred in the grounds of the monastery.

After he died, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and said to be found intact, and exhaling a fine fragrance.

Letters to Rome pleaded for his beatification; the decree affirming the heroism of his virtues was issued in 1763 by Pope Clement XIII. Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres in the year 1837. Nearly one hundred and twenty five years later Blessed Martin was canonized in Rome by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962.

His feast day is November 3. He is the Patron Saint of people of mixed race, innkeepers, barbers, public health and more besides.