Friday, February 19, 2010

Saint Martin de Porres

Feast Day: November 3

The father of Martin de Porres was a Spanish knight & adventurer and his mother a colored freed-woman from Panama.  Martin de Porres was born on the 9th of December, 1579 in Lima, Peru.  Don Juan de Porres left Martin’s mother and just sent money every now and then.   Martin grew up in poverty and bore the stigma of having mixed blood and the shame of being an illegitimate child.  

When Martin turned 8, his father sent money for him and his sister to go to school. At age 12, he became an apprentice to a barber-surgeon where he learned to cut hair as well as to draw blood, prepare medicinal herbs, set broken bones and to properly care for the sick.  It was also during this time that he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory.  At fifteen, he was allowed to become a lay brother at the Dominican Friary and was placed in charge of the infirmary.

St. Martin de Porres spent much time in prayer and meditation and had a great devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist.  God endowed him with many supernatural graces and lights.  There are recorded instances when he was seen bi-locating or was inside the chapel levitating and so filled with love for Christ.  He went about curing the sick and giving alms to the poor; helped the farm laborers, Negroes and mulattoes.  He was good-natured and charitable and thus gained the name “Martin the charitable”.  He is also known as the first Black Saint from the Americas.

Reflection:

*What amazes me about Saint Martin de Porres is his profound humility.  He had suffered much and had experienced terrible humiliation yet instead of wallowing in self-pity  or  instead of redeeming himself by compensating or retaliating he continued to live in self- imposed poverty and reached out to the sick, the poor and the oppressed.  To me, this is a clear evidence that he was able to transcend the prejudice and humiliation he went through in his childhood.

 This reminds me of the quote from Mother Teresa about if you are humble nothing can hurt you.  Here's an  accurate quote on that one:

"Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience.  It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent.  If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.  If you are blamed you will not be discouraged.  If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal." 
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 'The Joy in Loving' page 363


 To Martin de Porres, only God suffices. His knowledge of the greatness of God, made him aware of his dignity as a child of God as well as his nothingness.  Though he is nothing, God loves him profoundly.  This experience of God’s love is all that mattered.  God’s love redeemed Martin and healed him of his pains.  To Saint Martin de Porres, God’s love was the source of all the love he generously shared to the poor, the sick and the unwanted and he looked on these poor people the way he looked at himself - a child of God.

* In God’s great wisdom, He chose Martin de Porres, an illegitimate, Negro to be a Saint to show that His love is universal.  

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