Saint Martin de Porres
Thanks to Scranton Library’s Children’s Librarian, Jane for recommending Saint Martin for my “Saint’s Monday” column today.
St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a coloured freed-woman from Panama.
By law in Peru, descendants of Africans and Indians were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. The only route open to Martin was to ask the Dominicans of Holy Rosary Friary in Lima to accept him as a “donado”, a layman who performed menial tasks in the friary in return for the privilege of wearing the habit and living in the religious community. At the age of 15 he asked for admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received first as a servant boy, and as his duties grew he was promoted to almoner.
Saint Martin from an early age cared more for others than he did for himself. A perfect example of his selflessness follows:
He found on the street a poor Indian, bleeding to death, and took him to his own room until he could transport him to his sister’s hospice. When it was discovered what he’d done, Martin was admonished. Martin’s superior upon hearing the saint’s reply:
(Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.) was enlightened and from then on Saint Martin was given liberty to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy.
An interesting reply and one I hope would be taken under advisement today. I’m considering one especially heinous example. Sheldon Cooper on G+ shared this story a few weeks ago:
What Happened in a Missouri Hospital.
Forgive my becoming political here. I just couldn’t let this go unnoticed and I would like to think that Saint Martin de Porres would be able to act just as he did in the example above when he carried the Indian boy to his own bed, disregarding the practices of the day. Saint Martin’s actions speak of a man who cared little about his own safety, his own comfort. Rather he put himself last in all cases. In another example of Saint Martin’s selflessness, when he turned 34, he was placed in charge of the infirmary at Holy Rosary, a home to over 200 men. Martin was patient with the infirm to such a degree that is superiors had no choice but to give him that assignment.
Throughout Saint Martin’s life he cared for those who couldn’t care for themselves. Stories abound of Martin’s acts of caring for those who were too sick and feeble to help themselves. Another instance:
In the convent where he lived sixty of the over 200 men who lived there were struck down by epidemic. These sixty friars were shut off, locked away from the rest of the population. You can guess what happened. It is said that Saint Martin appeared in the “Sick Wing” while not opening a single door. This was reported to have happened multiple times and even though Martin’s superiors continued to forbid him from treating and transporting the sick, he disobeyed, saying:
Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness.
Now you understand that in order to be beatified (moved to sainthood) miracles have to have been performed. Among the miracles he is said to have performed, including healing sick patients, is his ability to be in two places at once – literally. Martin de Porres was seen in distant places like Mexico and Japan while he remained at home in Peru. De Porres would provide proof of the journeys in his other body by means of a detailed description of the locations. Martin de Porres was canonized in 1962.
Top 10 Bizarre Miracles
I’d also think having Martin walk through closed and locked doors when he gave comfort to those sixty friars would also have been taken under advisement.
Could you put yourself last and care for someone who was indigent, someone who needed help when no one else would?
Could you disobey the mores of today’s society and reach out to someone who has been disavowed by their own community?
What do you think?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Blessings to you.