Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saint Martin de Porres

Saint Martín de Porres (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639) was a Dominican cooperator brother who was beatified in the year 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII.

He was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

Martin de Porres is an awesome saint. And he is very special to us who minister to the poor. At our small mission church in New Jersey, there was a doctor named Frank who attended Holy Mass every Sunday. I would always try to spend a few minutes speaking with him before Mass as he was very interesting, likable, and smart. He was also very devout. Dr. Frank had a special love and interest in Martin de Porres - so much so that he sought and received permission from a Bishop to visit and enter Martin's home in Peru. It is not easy to gain access to such a holy place.

In our small church, which is named after St. Augustine, there was an old statue of St. Martin on a side altar. The statue was very old. It not only needed painting, but pieces of clay were falling off. Dr. Frank was very disturbed about this. Nancy, a good friend of the Missionaries of Charity, a sculptor and painter (you can see Nancy's painting of Thérèse de Lisieux on my sidebar) volunteered to take the statue home and repair it. God was certainly working through Nancy's hands - as the statue looks better than new. We placed the statue back in its rightful place in the church. Here was the problem, a new Catholic movement was was asked to take care of our church by the local Bishop. The members of this new movement did not take a liking to the statue and relegated it to the rear of the church. We decided to take the statue out of the church and place it in the Missionary of Charity soup kitchen. How wonderfully appropriate. I am sure St. Martin would be very happy and also Dr. Frank. Dr. Frank went home to God last year. When I think of him, I always think of his dear St. Martin.

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.

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