Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
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.