Because of his dedication to the poor, Martin de Porres was known as Martin the Charitable.
St. Martin de Porres was born in 1579 in Lima, Peru. Having been abandoned for a
significant period of time by his father, the loving care of his mother, and his experience
of suffering engendered in him a deep compassion for those in need. Trained as a barber
(a profession considered to be more like that of a surgeon in his day), Martin asked to
join the Dominicans, as a simple lay brother, either because of the prejudice of the day
or the humility of Martin.
Quickly known for his tremendous charity, he became known as
Martin the charitable. He had great ability to raise money, and to apply this money to meeting
the long term needs of the poor. He founded a hospital, a children’s orphanage, planted an
orchard for use of the poor (they could take one day’s supply of fruit), and a shelter for stray
dogs and cats. It is said the dogs, cats mice and rats all got along, eating from the same dish
because of Martin’s tender charity.
It was clear to all who encountered Martin that he was a
great man of holiness who was the instrument God used for many miracles. A contemporary
of St. Rose of Lima and St. Juan Massias, his feast day is November 3.
Martin de Porres Quick Facts
Date of Birth: December 9, 1579
Died: November 3, 1639 of Fever
Patron Saint of: African-Americans, barbers, bi-racial people, diocese of Biloxi Mississippi,
black people, hair stylists, hairdressers, hotel keepers, innkeepers, interracial justice, mixed
race people, mulattos, Peru, poor people, public education, public health, public schools,
race relations, racial harmony, social justice, state schools, and television.
Canonized: May 16, 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII