Saint Martin de Porres

Martin of charity

Saints (Lima, 9 December 1579 - Lima, 3 November 1639).

Beatitized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837

Patron of the social justice works of Peru Pope Pius XII in 1945.

Canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962.

Patron saint of barbers and hairdressers by Pope Paul VI in 1966.

The Luturgical Memory occurs on November 3

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Life of Juan Martín de Porres Velázquez

Born in Lima in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on 9 December 1579, the son of a white Spanish knight of the Order of Alcántara, who resided in Lima, Don Juan de Porres originally from the city of Burgos, and of a Panamanian female servant of African origin who after being released, she adopted the name Ana Velázquez. His father of noble status could not marry such a poor woman and, for some time, did not want to recognize the mulatto son born of this relationship. Two years later in 1581 Juana was born who was Martín's only sister. After this birth, the father left the family.

Juan Martín was baptized on December 9, 1579 in the Church of San Sebastián in Lima, in the same baptismal pile in which Santa Rosa de Lima would have been seven years later.

Ana Velázquez gave her two children a careful Christian education. For Martin his childhood was not happy, for being a mulatto he was despised by society. He had to live in hardship with his mother and little sister Juana.

When his father reached the age of eight, seeing the precarious situation in which his children were growing up without a father or teachers, he decided to take care of their education. He recognized them as his sons before the law, later he took them with him to Guayaquil in Ecuador, where the two brothers were able to live with greater serenity and comfort.

He stayed with them for four years, then received the post of governor of Panama by the Count of Villar, he had to prepare himself to go to this locality. He left his daughter Juana in Guayaquil and took Martin to Lima to his mother, leaving her with the necessary for food and education.

At the age of twelve Martin entered as an apprentice in the barber shop of Marcello di Rivera, he added, attending to Matteo Pastor and Francesca Velez Michel his neighbors who were pharmacists, his passion for medicine and, as an assistant, as a dentist. In this period he thus learned the profession of barber, surgeon, general medicine, to read and write.

In 1586, at the age of fifteen, he heard the call of the Lord and accepted the invitation of the famous Dominican friar Giovanni di Lorenzaga and entered the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary, a house for the study of philosophy and theology. Martin de Porres was welcomed as a "donor" a kind of servant dedicated to the humblest jobs who saw him constantly with a broom in hand dedicated to cleaning. At four in the morning the bell rang for all the friars to get up.

In 1591 from the archbishop of Lima, Santo Toribio Alfonso de Mogrovejo in the cathedral of Lima, he received confirmation.
In 1603 at the age of twenty-four, for his dedication to the Order and his precious work in the Convent, he convinced his superiors to make him make his solemn profession as a lay brother.

By giving vows of poverty, obedience and chastity, Martin de Porres gave his life a more ascetic turn, spent long hours before the Blessed Sacrament, meditated on the passion of Jesus, and in 1633 and had the gift of ecstasy and was seen rising from land. For several hours he underwent severe penances and even nocturnal flagellations with sackcloth. He whipped himself twice a day with a three-stringed whip with an iron tip and soothed the wounds with vinegar. Once a day he beat his legs and feet with sticks. While scourging himself during a procession, they saw him accompanied by four beautiful Angels.

He ate very little and slept no more than three hours in the afternoon.

Martin gradually imposed himself both for his wisdom and as a healer, many high-ranking people such as the governor and the viceroy came to him for advice, or for a quick medical examination. Often he undertook to relieve the conditions of the poor, especially the Indians. Thanks to his medical knowledge, his commitment was enormous when the plague struck the city of Lima. It seems that on that occasion he took care of sixty friars.

His holiness was manifested in love for his neighbor and the purity of his life, especially in the care he dispensed to the poor and the sick as a nurse, gardener and herbalist. Fra Martin cultivated the medicinal plants which he used to relieve the sick. He practiced charity day and night. He treated sick people. He gave alms to Spaniards, Indians, blacks and loved everyone with singular love. The convent porter's lodge was a tangle of humble soldiers, Indians, mulattoes, and blacks, to whom he loved to repeat: "There is no greater taste than giving to the poor". He involved his sister Juana who had, in addition to a good social condition, an estate, to grant shelter to the poor.

Martin had the Santa Cruz boarding school built for poor children, a type of institution that was among the first in America and many children left the street and found a generous welcome.

She always used a white dress with a long black cape. The Prior, in a particular circumstance, forced him to receive a new suit and when a confrere complimented him on the new suit, Martin, laughing, replied: "With this they will bury me" and indeed it was so. Martin followed, making them his own, models of holiness of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, San José, Santa Caterina da Siena and San Vicente Ferrer.

He died on the evening of November 3, 1639, surrounded by friars in prayer. The next day, with the participation of Feliciano de Vega, archbishop of Mexico City, and the city authorities, the body was buried in the crypt below the chapter house.

It was November 3, 1639 when Martin perceived that he was close to leave this earth to fly to heaven in the presence of God, he asked the brothers who surrounded him to chant the creed and died. On the occasion of his funeral a huge crowd wanted to see him for the last time and many have testified that "a great fragrance" was exhaling from his body. His body was carried in procession on the shoulders of Feliciano de la Vega (archbishop of Mexico), Pedro de Ortega Sotomayor (dean of the cathedral of Lima and later the bishop of Cusco), Juan de Peñafiel (listener of the royal audience) and Juan de Figueroa Sotomayor (council member and later mayor of Lima), among other noteworthy persons present at the time of burial. The body was buried in the crypt below the chapter house.