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Martin de Porres

  • International
  • November 3, 2012
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Martin de Porres, the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight and a woman who was his former slave, was born in Lima, Peru in the 16th century. Abandoned by his father, he grew up in utter poverty with his mother and a sister. Nevertheless, even as a child, his character was outgoing and helpful, and he used his knowledge as a surgeon’s apprentice to help all those in need in the city’s prisons and hospitals.

As a young man, Martin became an ‘oblate’ – or lay helper - of the Dominicans, but soon the friars insisted that he enter the order as a lay brother. This was because of his remarkable humility and phenomenal ability to heal the sick by his mere touch or a prayer, even at a distance. Indeed Martin’s care of the sick and his help of the poor and needy was unsurpassed.

It was also claimed that he had the gift of prophecy, and of being in two places at the same time - in distant countries even though he never left Lima.

When he died at the age of 60, the viceroy and two bishops carried his coffin to the grave.

The lives of the saints never cease to amaze us. And Martin de Porres, even more. He grew up poor and dispossessed in an exploitative and racist society which was the Spanish Empire in South America. And yet, in the words of the Magnificat, he became “the humble half-caste, filled with good things, and lifted up on high”, yes, even to the altars of the Church.
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