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.
Today, November 3rd we celebrate one of my favorite Saints. San Martin de Porres, aka San “Anejo.”
Why is he one of my favorite Saints?
Well, one reason is because of the story that my Mamá Lola shared with us growing up about my Tio Martin and San Anejo. The Miracle of his assistance to my Family. That is the greatest reason.
But also, San Martin is also to whom we turn to help us to forgive those that treat us with despise, with contempt because we are of a different color, race, or creed.
Having been a Mulatto, a “half breed,” a “war souvenir,” he was raised by his mother Ana Velázquez in extreme poverty. You see, his father, Don Juan de Porres – a white, blue-eyed hidalgo, a Spanish noble – was ashamed that San Martin was born with his mother’s features and not his European ones. Thus, San Martin grew as an abandoned child due to this shame. Allow me to rectify that, Don Juan did acknowledge him at about the age of 8 but then abandoned San Martin, his Mother and his Sister again.
His skin color, his origin, throughout his life brought upon him much discrimination. Everywhere he was called a half breed. Even after joining the Domninican Order…not as a Friar, of course, but as a Donado. This was a third order of lay people who helped by doing menial labour in return for food and lodging. One must note that this labour was seen as “not fit” even for the Dominican lay brothers. San Martin would be a Donado for many years before he was permitted to take the vows of the Dominican Order due to, as Alex García-Rivera in the biography St Martín de Porres states, “there are laws that we must respect. These indicate that the Indians, blacks, and their descendants, cannot make profession in any religious order, seeing that they are races that have little formation as of yet.” Even as a Donado in the monastery, San Martin suffered more injustice due to his being a mulatto.
Now, one would think he would have grown up to be bitter and angry, using bigotry and discrimination as an excuse to hate, to be a victim, to treat others with injustice, as many of us do…but he did Not! He forgave. He held no resentment. He was kind, caring, compassionate, giving.
There are many accounts of his compassion. His is well known for his healing miracles. His ministering to the sick, to the poor, to the widows, to the orphans, to the prostitutes….to the Marginalized. Once, he found a homeless man that was almost naked, dirty, with open sores…San Martin saw in him the Divine Mendicant and took him to the monastery and lay this man in his own bed. He was then reproved by a Monk, to whom he responded, “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”
During the bubonic plague, in the Convent of the Rosary alone there were 60 friars that were struck with illness and quarantined. They were behind locked doors. San Martin is known to have many, many times passed through these locked doors to tend to the sick.
Nothing, even distance could keep San Martin from tending to those that needed him. He had the Divine Gift of not just healing, but of bilocation. He is known to have tended to those in Africa, China, México, Algeria, Japan and the Philipines, while never once having left Lima, Peru.
There many relatos of San Martin going to console and speak of Heaven to Slaves that were being transported from Africa. One such occasion, an African slave that had been in irons had the opportunity to see San Martin in Lima, he had asked San Martin how his voyage had gone. It was only much later that this same Slave learned that San Martin had never left Peru.
San Martin would appear to heal those that would call to him. Once in México, a Merchant friend of San Martin’s, fell ill. Let me backtrack here. So, before leaving to México, this Merchant stopped by and asked San Martin to Pray for him in order to have a safe journey. After arriving in México, this same Merchant, as I said, became ill. He then said aloud, ” “O my God! Why isn’t my good friend Brother Martin here to take care of me when I am so desperately ill?” Guess who was at his side immediately? The Merchant of course questioned the Saint to which he would simply respond, “I just arrived.” After being healed by San Martin, the Merchant looked all over for him, of course, he was unable to find him, because again, San Martin had never left the Monastery.
San Martin’s gifts do not stop there.
You may have seen San Martin depicted with animals. This is because he also had the gift to communicate with these. There is what is known as “The Little Story.” There was a Friar in the Monastery that walked into the kitchen only to see a dog and a cat eating from the same bowl. He was shocked for these are natural enemies. But it did not stop there, before the Friar could leave to call others to witness this event, a mouse was invited by San Martin to join the dog and cat. All three, side by side shared a meal from this same bowl. A true sign of Fellowship!
There was another occasion when mice were eating the linens and robes of the monastery. San Martin chastised them and asked them to please go and eat at from a shed in the back of the garden, to where there would always be food. They obeyed. And on an occassion where one mouse returned to the Monastery Building, San Martin grabbed him by the tail and reprimanded him and sent him on his way. He too obeyed.
San Martin also had the gift of Levitation.
San Martin was known to Pray for hours into the night to a large Crucifix of Our Lord, before the Blessed Sacrament and before an image of Our Lady. During many of the prayers, it is said that the room would become illuminated by his body and would rise from the floor.
I think that with these stories and again if you click on any of the links below, you can find so much more on San Anejo ♥ and with this, I do believe you can understand Why San Martin is one of my Favorite Saints.
Especially in these times where the World in its entirety it seems is Confronted with Massive Racism, we need to ask San Martin to Pray for Us before Our Lord, God.
San Martin, Humilde Servidor del Señor, ayudame a Amar, Perdonar, Comprender y tener Compasion como lo hiciste tu.
San Martin de Porres….Pray for Us.