I missed All Saint’s Day AND I missed telling you all about El Dia de los Muertos…
But, at least I am sharing that today is San Martin de Porres’ Day 😉
I have to share a story with you about San Martin de Porres that my Mamá Lola told me a few times about one of my Uncles, his namesake, Martin.
When my Tio Martin was around 2 years old, my Mamá Lola says his enunciation wasn’t quite right on yet. Thus, one word sounded a lot like another or it was all garbled.
My Mamá Lola, as I have shared with you all many, many a time, has always helped out at the Church in any way that she could.
During the time that the youngest of my Aunts and Uncles were quite young, in fact, I believe the youngest not even born yet, I will have to double check that with my Mom – oh, and I have 12 Aunts and Uncles, in case you were wondering 😉 7 Females, 5 Males – my Mamá Lola would clean the Church. You know, dusting, sweeping, mopping, etc.
Also, during this time, my Papá Eliseo worked a lot in the U.S. via the Bracero Program.
U.S. Farmers needed, as they do still today, workers to pick the crops. The program brought Men from México to satisfy the need. After the season was over, they returned home to be with their families again. Needless to say, if my Papá Eliseo had to participate in this program it was out of Financial Need. In other words, they were by no means financially stable or well off. So much so that my Mamá Lola has shared with us how she would make a half a package of sopita (star pasta, or melon seed pasta or any of those pastas) go a long way by adding a lot, a LOT of water and only 1/2 a Boullion cube for the chicken broth taste to feed the entire family of 12 growing and Hungry children.
I hope that provides you with a bit of insight.
As I was saying, my Mamá Lola would Volunteer to Clean the Church with her Babies, Toddlers and Kids in tow. They all did their share. She would have the little ones clean the kneelers and dust the lower parts of the Imagenes, while she cleaned the higher, out-of-reach areas.
On this specific occasion, she was dusting the Statue of San Martin de Porres and she says my Tio Martin was helping her. She noticed him trying to grab a birote from San Martin de Porres’ basket. A birote is a Roll of Bread, a large Bun.
My Tio Martin cocked his head to the side a bit sad but she felt that he had understood.
They finished cleaning the Church and headed back home. Her Babies, Toddlers, and older Kids all hungry after a hard day’s work.
As she approached the Casa, she saw a Basket at the door. She says she looked all around to see if someone had forgotten it. Upon seeing no one, she assumed that perhaps one of her Siblings or relatives had left it there for her, as they often did to assist her with all the Children.
As they got closer she says that my Tio Martin began shouting, “Anejo, Anejo.”
Now, there is a curse word in Spanish that means a lot, LOT worse than stupid. It is more like Mo Fo, and Anejo sounds sort of the way that a young child would pronounce it. Upon hearing this from my Tio Martin’s mouth she quickly turned and hissed between her teeth for him to stop!
My Tio Martin continued, “Anejo, Mamá, Anejo.”
At this point she smacked him.
He just cried and wept, “Anejo.” Thereby meriting a beating as soon as they got inside.
She was in disbelief at his behaviour. Embarressed, Angry, you name it. If you’re a Parent, you can imagine those moments…If you’re not, you can still empathize 😉
She looked down at the basket and saw that it was filled with Birotes. As she grabbed the basket, again she looked around. She figured it must have been one of her Sisters. She was extremely grateful because as I mentioned, they were far from accustomed to having feasts for any of their meals. And to have enough Birote for each of the Children was an immense treat! She made a mental note to Thank my Tia Trini, or my Tia Maria, or any one of her Siblings that have provided her with such a Blessing. All this while a very upset 2-year-old cried and whimpered. Oh, and she always followed through on the promised punishments…
The following week, she headed towards el Templo kids in tow once more. As they entered, my Tio Martin ran towards San Martin de Porres and shouted, “Anejo, Anejo…”
“Father unknown” is the cold legal phrase sometimes used on baptismal records. “Half-breed” or “war souvenir” is the cruel name inflicted by those of “pure” blood. Like many others, Martin might have grown to be a bitter man, but he did not. It was said that even as a child he gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised.
He was the illegitimate son of a freed woman of Panama, probably black but also possibly of Native American stock, and a Spanish grandee of Lima, Peru. He inherited the features and dark complexion of his mother. That irked his father, who finally acknowledged his son after eight years. After the birth of a sister, the father abandoned the family. Martin was reared in poverty, locked into a low level of Lima’s society.
At 12 his mother apprenticed him to a barber-surgeon. He learned how to cut hair and also how to draw blood (a standard medical treatment then), care for wounds and prepare and administer medicines.
After a few years in this medical apostolate, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper,” not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother. After nine years, the example of his prayer and penance, charity and humility led the community to request him to make full religious profession. Many of his nights were spent in prayer and penitential practices; his days were filled with nursing the sick and caring for the poor. It was particularly impressive that he treated all people regardless of their color, race or status. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He became the procurator for both priory and city, whether it was a matter of “blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!” When his priory was in debt, he said, “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me.”
Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, Martin’s life reflected God’s extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and a remarkable rapport with animals. His charity extended to beasts of the field and even to the vermin of the kitchen. He would excuse the raids of mice and rats on the grounds that they were underfed; he kept stray cats and dogs at his sister’s house.
He became a formidable fundraiser, obtaining thousands of dollars for dowries for poor girls so that they could marry or enter a convent.
Many of his fellow religious took him as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a “poor slave.” He was a good friend of another Dominican saint of Peru, Rose of Lima.
Racism is a sin almost nobody confesses. Like pollution, it is a “sin of the world” that is everybody’s responsibility but apparently nobody’s fault. One could hardly imagine a more fitting patron of Christian forgiveness (on the part of those discriminated against) and Christian justice (on the part of reformed racists) than Martin de Porres.
Pope John XXIII remarked at the canonization of Martin (May 6, 1962), “He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.'”
~ From American Catholic. org
San Martin de Porres, Thank you for the Miracles Provided, Thank you for your Examples and please, Pray For Us All, that Racism, Poverty, Pride and all types of Prejudice may be Beaten within ourselves and in Society.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord…