St. Martin Shrine Courtyard. Statue by Roy Tamboli
ST. MARTIN DE PORRES
St. Martin was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579, the son of a Spanish nobleman and a black Panamanian woman. Abandoned by their father at a young age, Martin lived with his mother and sister in poverty.
As a youth, Martin was apprenticed to a barber where he learned the healing arts. As a young man, Martin asked to join the Dominicans in Lima. For several years he served as a lay helper, doing such menial tasks as sweeping floors, cleaning the refectory and toilets. Martin also used his healing skills to care for the sick. Finally, Martin was persuaded to receive the habit as a brother.
Martin became widely known for his depth of spirituality, humble service, healing powers, and love of all God's creatures. Martin was reported to have the gift of bilocation. This means he could be in more than one place at a time. As Martin's fame spread, people came from far and near to ask for his prayers, healing, and spiritual counsel. He treated every person with dignity and respect, regardless of their state in life.
Martin died in 1639 at the age of 60. He was canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII, and has been declared the patron saint of social justice. Today, St. Martin is loved by people of many different races and ethnic groups. Every year the Church holds a special celebration for the Feast of St. Martin on November 3rd.