Black Catholic Saint Feast Day: St. Martin de Porres (Nov 3) – Black Catholic History Month 2021
The Church celebrates a prominent figure in Black Catholic history today – St. Martin de Porres! If you know his story and if you know about the story of Black people across the Americas, then you would also know how so much of his life parallels the Black experience in the history of not just the US but of the Americas in general. He checks a number of boxes of issues that we as Black people have faced in the past and some still face today. But as he had a life that showcased a bit of Black struggle, he also had a life that showcased a bounty of Black triumph. Even when life tried to keep him out of his calling he persevered and fought the devil’s lie of racism with God’s truth of love. I have covered him on my site in the past and have him enshrined my Black Catholic Saints and Holy Ones page , so if you would like to know more about him and his story, check it out here.
Born: December 9, 1579
Died: November 3, 1639
Canonized: May 6, 1962 by Pope St. John XXIII
Patronage: black people, mixed-raced people, Peru, barbers, public health
After learning about St. Martin from my work, check out what another saint that came after him had to say about the man called Martin the Charitable. I have provided here from this site the text of Pope St. John XXIII’s canonization sermon as he raised St. Martin to the full dignity of the altar. Enjoy, and may God bless you and yours on this feast day of St. Martin de Porres!
Pope St. John XXIII’s sermon during the canonization of St. Martin de Porres on May 6, 1962.
The example of Martin’s life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first, by loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind; and second, by loving our neighbour as ourselves.
When Martin had come to realise that Christ Jesus suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardour and affection about Christ on the cross. Whenever he would contemplate Christ’s terrible torture he would be reduced to tears. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in communion as often as he could.
Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men because he honestly looked on them as God’s children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was.
He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offences. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing and medicine. He did all he could to care for poor farmhands, blacks and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him “Martin the charitable.”
The virtuous example and even the conversation of this saintly man exerted a powerful influence in drawing men to religion. It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, nor do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ’s footsteps and to obey God’s commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!
Cover image: Image: credit goes to original artist; not sure who. Used under Fair Use.