Dominican Saints 101: St. Martin de Porres
November 1, 2011
“God is wonderful in His saints.” (Ps. 68:35) Beginning on November 1 and spreading throughout the month of November, the Church rejoices in the great gifts the Lord has given her in the saints. Through their examples they give us the sign posts that lead us on the path they once trod. And through their intercession, they aid us on our journey so that we might be led on our way to the same end–heaven. This nicely describes our the relevance for our saint of the week. Often when I think of St. Martin de Porres (1579-1639, feast day – Nov. 3), I remember his miracles–his turning into a fireball, his bilocation, his miraculous healings, even his talking to rats. But there is something more fundamental about St. Martin than these extraordinary graces, and there is another way that he is more properly an example to us all.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:3)
These words succinctly describe the life of St. Martin. He was humble from his childhood. Being born of black mother and a Spanish father in 16th century Peru, he was an outcast. Since he inherited the dark skin of his mother, his father shunned and neglected him. Yet, he persevered in a holy life and sought to enter religion. When he entered the Dominican Order, it was not as a brother studying for the priesthood or even a cooperator brother. He humbly entered as a servant, a familiari. He did menial labor in the Convent of the Holy Rosary in Lima, Peru, and here he sought to live a simple life. When the friars decided that they wanted to make him a cooperator brother, he shrunk from such a prospect, not feeling worthy to live such a great vocation. Yet, in his humility, he accepted and continued the work he was known for–being the porter, the barber (i.e., surgeon), and whatever else would benefit the fathers and free them up to carry out the work of preaching. In all this, he remained united to God. In other words, he who was poor in spirit, was joined to Him in whom the kingdom of heaven is found. May his example lead us to that same kingdom, and through his intercession, may we too become humble and accept the Lord’s will, wherever it may lead us. O God, you led the blessed Martin, your confessor, to heavenly glory along the way of humility; grant, we beseech you, that being made humble by his example, we may deserve to be exalted with him in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.