Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

St. Martin de Porres

Feast day: November 3

Also known as:  Martin of Charity; the Saint of the Broom (for his devotion to his work, no matter how menial)

Martin was was born on December 9, 1579 at Lima, Peru. He was the Illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a young freed black slave. He grew up in poverty and Spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick.

At age 11 he became a servant in the Dominican priory. Promoted to almoner, he begged more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick of Lima. He was placed in charge of the Dominican's infirmary, known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that "no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order" and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother.

He established an orphanage and children's hospital for the poor children of the slums and he Set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. Martin lived in self-imposed austerity, never ate meat, fasted continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation. He had a great devotion to the Eucharist and was a friend of Saint John de Massias.

When he died in 1639, Saint Martin was known to the entire city of Lima; word of his miracles had made him known as a Saint to every resident of the region. After his death, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and 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 Clement XIII; Gregory XVI beatified him in 1836, and in 1962 Pope John XXIII canonized him. The poor and the sick will never fail to find in him a friend having great power over the Heart of God.

He was venerated from the day of his death and many miraculous cures, including raising the dead were attributed to Brother Martin. He was the first black American saint.

Martin died in 1639 of fever. He was Beatified in 1873 and Canonized May 16, 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

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