Friday, 3 November 2017

St Martin de Porres

A very humble and unpretentious saint, Martin de Porres was ridiculed all through his life because the color of his skin. He was born in Lima, Peru on December 9, 1579 the son of a Spanish father and a black slave from Panama. His father abandoned him and was raised in poverty by his mother. After 2 years of primary school, he was sent to study the trade of a barber, and also how to draw blood and use medicinal herbs in curing people, a custom that was prevalent in those days for barbers. He wanted to enter a Dominican convent but because of his skin, he was refused entry, although later he was admitted as a Third Order lay Dominican, working as a cook, porter and perform menial jobs.
Since he had some knowledge in medicine, he was asked to work in the Infirmary of the convent. He would help everyone, poor or wealthy, and even mice used to come to nibble on scraps and left-overs in his kitchen. He even opened an orphanage and helped girls get married and get a dowry for their wedding. Still he was consistently abused because of his skin color. When an epidemic started in Lima and many monks were taken into quarantine, he sneaked in to help them, even though no one was permitted in the quarantine. For him charity was more important than obedience. He was friends with two other Peruvian Saints, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Juan Macias. He died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized by Pope St John XXIII on May 6, 1962. He is the patron saint of barbers, those of mixed race, nurses and carers who work in hospitals.

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