Reflections on St. Martin de Porres
An old illustration pictures Martin de Porres, finger to his lips—“Shhhh!”—as several mice peek out of sacristy vestment drawers, preparing to join a rodent “procession” following him out of church! (1579-1639; November 3 Feast Day.)
Martin’s rescue of these unwelcome guests, and statues depicting him, broom in hand, feeding a dog, cat, bird, and mouse from the same dish symbolize his life and sanctity. Initially denied entrance by the Dominicans because of his mixed race (Spanish father, Panamanian mother), Martin cherished society’s marginalized.
For him, menial tasks, lovingly done, were sacred. Great and lowly alike feasted on his charity. Enemies were reconciled by this “poor mulatto” (his self-description), kind even to those whose racism demeaned him.
Apprenticed to a surgeon-barber in his youth — thus patron saint of hair stylists and public health providers — Martin dispensed healing and dignity to Lima’s poorest, serving in them the Christ he adored for hours in the Blessed Sacrament.
By the time he died, all Peru called him Martin the Charitable, a title even those of us who will never be called “saint” might still aspire to.
—Peter Scagnelli, © J. S. Paluch Co.