St. Martin de Porres is the patron of African-Americans, people of mixed races, animal shelter workers, hairstylists and barbers, housekeepers, veterinarians, the poor, Peru, innkeepers, public education, and public health. He is often petitioned for healing, for sick or lost pets, and to improve relationships between people of different races.
The son of a wealthy Spanish nobleman and a black freed slave, Martin was born in Lima, Peru on November 3, 1579. Young Martin was brought up in poverty, forced to bear the discrimination of those who feared his mixed race. He grew up with little money and apprenticed with a barber at the age of 12 to learn a trade. As was often the case at that time, the barber doubled as a doctor and surgeon, so along with hair-cutting, Martin was taught the skills of healing.
When Martin was 15, he began studying with the Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic. He was first assigned a job as a servant and later became a monk. He was an extremely spiritual man, who spent much time in prayer. His devotion to the Catholic Church gained him acceptance from and admittance into the Dominican brotherhood. Martin was known to exhibit compassion and selflessness for those who were sick and in need. He would often give over his own bed to beggars who had no place else to rest. He believed that even the most tedious forms of work could be devotional and holy.
St. Martin As a Symbol of Racial Harmony
Martin was the first mixed-race man to take holy orders. He was called terrible names and mocked for being illegitimate and a descendent of slaves. However, by the time he died, he was widely revered and accepted by most people. He eventually became a religious symbol of racial harmony and tolerance. He raised large sums of alms that he gave out to the poor, beggars, and children in need. He also helped to fund a large orphanage in the city of Lima. St. Martin was an excellent fundraiser, and he is often petitioned for money, especially relating to charitable causes.
Martin was said to have superhuman powers, including levitation, teleportation, other-worldly knowledge and an uncanny rapport with animals. He is believed to have performed many miraculous cures throughout his life. Martin suffered from prolonged illness for the last year of his life and passed away at the age of 60 on November 3, 1639.
After his death, the miracles received when he was alive multiplied at such a rate that when he was exhumed 25 years later, his followers were not surprised to find that his body gave off a pleasant odor and he was still completely intact. On May 6, 1962, three hundred and twenty-three years after Martin's death, Pope John XXIII canonized St. Martin de Porres in Rome. His feast day is celebrated on his birthday, November 3.
St. Martin de Porres is almost always depicted with cats, dogs, mice and pigeons at his feet. He is often pictured with a broom, a pair of scissors, and a rosary. The broom symbolizes his servitude in the Dominican order and the menial chores he took on, while the peace and harmony between animals that would usually fight with each other symbolizes harmonious race relationships achieved through mercy and loving kindness. The scissors are symbolic of his job as a barber.
Praying To St. Martin de Porres
When petitioning St. Martin de Porres, begin by placing an incense pot with St. Martin incense powder on your altar. Anoint a St. Martin 7 Day Saint Candle with Peace Oil. Focus on your intention and light the incense powder and candle. Hold a St. Martin prayer card in your hand and concentrate on the candle’s flame. Try to clear your mind of all intrusive thoughts. Repeat the following prayer:
Saint Martin de Porres,
your concern and charity embraced
not only your needy brethren,
but also the animals of the field.
You are a splendid example of charity;
we thank and praise you.
hear the requests of your needy brethren.
This is another powerful prayer that can be used when petitioning St. Martin de Porres to find employment.
Compassionate St Martin de Porres.
You were always a generous and dedicated worker.
Not one day of your life found you idle.
Help me now in these difficult times to find suitable employment.
I have no wish to be without work.
By your prayers I hope to be given a situation where I can use to the full all the gifts that God has given to me.
Intercede for me that I will obtain guidance in seeking out possible opportunities.
When I am employed obtain for me the graces to be faithful and diligent for the glory of God, for my own good and that of all people we serve.
Ask God to give me health of mind and body and generosity in meeting the needs of others.
I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
To keep the power of Saint Martin close to you at all times, carry at Saint Martin medal with you in your wallet or purse. Wear a Saint Martin necklace or bracelet and place a Saint Martin statue in your car.
Saint Martin de Porres was kind and compassionate to the poor and the sick. He treated people without regards to their race, color or status. He gave his heart and his goods to the poor and despised. Look to him to remind you of the importance of showing acceptance and kindness to all.