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November 3

St Martin de Porres

Saint Martin de Porres

Dominican Lay Brother, Mystic

(1579 – 1639)

“Everything, even sweeping, scraping vegetables, weeding a garden and waiting on the sick could be a prayer, if it were offered to God.

Saint Martin de Porres

Saint’s Life Story

His Youth and Apprenticeship as a Barber

Martin was born on November 9, 1579, in Lima, Peru. He was the illegitimate son of John de Porres, a Spanish knight, and Anna, a freed Panamanian slave. Martin was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon when he was twelve to learn medical skills. Under Peruvian law, descendants of Africans and Native Americans were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. The only route open to Martin was to ask the Dominicans of Holy Rosary Priory in Lima to accept him as a “donado”, a volunteer who performed menial tasks in the monastery in return for the privilege of wearing the habit and living with the religious community.

Dominican Lay Brother

In 1594, he became a Dominican lay brother at Rosary Convent in Lima. At first, Martin was a service boy and later was promoted to an almoner. Martin served in various offices in the convent – a barber, a surgeon, infirmarian, and wardrobe keeper. Martin’s life in the convent was not easy as he was called by one of the novices a mulatto dog and one of the priests mocked him for being illegitimate and descended from slaves. This did not stop Martin from caring for the poor and the sick throughout the city.

His Gifts

Martin’s life reflected God’s extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bi-location, 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.

Martin 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 Martin as their spiritual director, but he continued to call himself a “poor slave.”

Martin De Porres spoken as follows to his Dominican brothers when admonished him for bringing an elderly, dirty beggar off the streets and allowing him to take the saint’s own bed while he cared for the sick man.

“Compassion 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.”

His Ministry to the Poor and Slaves

Martin was put in charge of the convent’s food distribution to the poor and ministered to African slaves brought to Peru. Martin was assisted by his close friend, St. Rose of Lima. His immense efforts to help the poor combined with his holiness and penances caused him to be venerated by all. In Christian art, St. Martin de Porres is depicted holding a broom, with a dog, cat, and mouse at his feet due to his love of animals. Martin died in the Rosary Convent in Lima, Peru on November 3, 1639. He was canonized over 300 years after his death in 1962 by Pope Pius XI. 

Beatified:         April 29, 1923 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:      May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI

Feast Day:        November 3

Patron Saint:  Barbers, Interracial Justice, Those Suffering Discrimination


Perhaps we all should pray for a smile like Saint Martin’s and build up our facial and spiritual muscles by sharing it with everyone.

Saint Martin de Porres overcame an illegitimate birth and discrimination even from his own Dominican order, being called a “mulatto dog” and mocked for being a decescendent from slaves.  These problems did not stop him from becaming a spiritual director, raising funds for poor girls so they could marry or enter the convent, distributing food for the poor, providing medical assistance to the sick, and charity to those in need all while doing penances and being holy. He used both skill and holiness to bring healing into people’s lives.  So, no matter what your background and start in life is, with God’s help through constant prayer, you can also do great” things that may be seem small to aid your fellow man and woman locally or even around the world. 

Who are the people that you exclude from your life or keep at a distance? Reflect on the subtle, or not so subtle, ways you discriminate against people who are different from you. Listen for how God might be calling you to a greater inclusion of others.


God, You led St. Martin de Porres by the way of humility to heavenly glory. Help us to follow the example of his holiness and so become worthy to be exalted with him in heaven.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us. Amen.

O Saint Martin de Porres,
Give us the courage to imitate your attitude of carrying the cross. Heal my fears which are the most terrible of my sicknesses. Remove my fears and I will already be contented.

 Source: St. Martin de Porres: Nov 3 | saints-feast-family (

To you, Saint Martin de Porres, we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

Source: Prayer to St Martin de Porres | DAILY PRAYERS (

Saint Links 

Aleteia – St. Martin de Porres was a skilled surgeon and heale

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Martin de Porres

Anastpaul – Thought for the Day – 3 November – The Memorial of St Martin de Porres OP (1579-1639)

Angelus News – Saint of the day: Martin de Porres

Catholic Culture – St Martin de Porres

Catholic Exchange – How Can We Live Like St. Martin de Porres? by Constance T. Hull

Catholic Fire – St. Martin de Porres: Patron of Racial Harmony

Catholic Ireland – Nov 5- St Martin de Porres (1579- 1639) Dominican, religious brother

Catholic News Agency – 7 fascinating facts about St. Martin de Porres, the first black saint of the Americas

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Martin de Porres

Cradio – St Martin de Porres

Franciscan Media – Saint Martin de Porres

Independent Catholic News – St Martin de Porres

Loyola Press – Saint Martín de Porres, 1579-1639 Feast day November 3

My Catholic Life – St. Martin de Porres, Religious
1575 – 1639

Newman Ministry – Saint Martin de Porres

Saints, Feasts, and Family – Saint Martin de Porres’ Story

Saints for Sinners – Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639)

Saint of the Day – November 03 St. Martin de Porres

Saint Resources – St Martin de Porres

uCatholic – Saint Martin de Porres

Wikipedia – Martin de Porres

Video Link

St. Martin de Porres – YouTube Video (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)