Martin de Porres
9 December 1579 - 3 November 1639
A brief biography.
Martín de Porres (or de Porras Velázquez) was born in Lima, Peru, and baptized on 9th December 1579, as the son of the free Indian woman, - negra-libre -, Ana Velásquez and an unknown father, de facto the Spanish grandee, Juan de Porres.
This man, member of the Military Order of Alcantara, was ashamed of Martin and his mother and afraid that this relation hindered his career. Therefore he named his son Martin after his brother's name Martin de Porres. Later the father would regret his too rapid decision, and take Martín and his sister Juana under his protection.
The young boy often heard himself referred to as a half-breed, and all his life long, his profound humility saw in himself only the magnanimity of God amid the inadequacy of his origins. When his mother could not support him and his sister, Martín was confided to a primary school for two years, then placed with a surgeon to learn the medical arts.
This caused him great joy, though he was only ten years old, for he could exercise charity to his neighbour while earning his living. Already he was spending hours of the night in prayer, a practice which increased rather than diminished as he grew older. Until his death he would flagellate himself three times every night, for his own failings and for the conversion of pagans and sinners.
He asked for admission to the Dominican priory Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Lima and was received first as a tertiary. He consulted frequently Dr Marcello de Rivero and the chemist’s shop of Mateo Pastor, and so collected Martín his medical knowledge to help the poor.
Although it was not customary then to receive a mulatto into a religious order in Peru, Martín was considered an exception and became a Dominican lay brother in 1610, and assigned to the infirmary of that priory, where he would remain in service until his death.
His superiors saw in him the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role, and he never disappointed them. Martín was working also with the sick outside his priory, often bringing them healing with only a simple glass of water.
One day an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Martín, seeing the Divine Mendicant in him, took him to his own bed, paying no heed to the fact that he was not perfectly neat and clean.
One of his brethren, considering he had gone too far in his charity, reproved him. Martín replied: “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.”
His sister, who lived in the country, offered her house to lodge those whom the residence of the religious could not hold. One day he found on the street a poor Indian, bleeding to death from a dagger wound, and took him to his own room until he could transport him to his sister’s hospice. The Superior, when he heard of this, reprimanded his subject for disobedience. He was extremely edified by his reply: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” In effect, there are situations where charity must prevail; and instruction is very necessary. The Superior gave him liberty thereafter to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy.
In normal times Martín succeeded with his alms to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent — the latter phenomenon hard to explain by ordinary calculations. He founded in Lima an orphanage for abandoned children and staffed it with the best teachers, nurses and guardians he could hire, On the hills near Lima, he planted fruit orchards for the poor. A merchant from Lima was in Mexico and fell ill; he said aloud: “Oh, Brother Martín, if only you were here to care for me..!” and immediately saw him enter his room. And again, this man did not know until later that he had never been in Mexico. Martín was also gifted with prophecy and clairvoyance.
He died on 3 November 1639 in the priory of Lima. After his death, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and found intact, and exhaling a fine fragrance.
Letters to Rome pleaded for his beatification; the decree affirming the heroism of his virtues was issued in 1763 by Clement XIII; Gregory XVI beatified him in 1836, and in 1962 Pope John XXIII canonized him.
Today he is one of the most popular saints of the Americas and the patron of social justice and interracial love.
Portrait of Martin de Porres as oblate of the Dominican priory Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Lima, by a unknown Spanish artist, preserved in the monastery Santa Rosa of the Dominican nuns in Lima.
Peru 1958, Mi 572, Sc C148.
Portrait of Martin de Porres as oblate of the Dominican priory Nuestra Señora del Rosario in Lima, by a unknown Spanish artist, preserved in the monastery Santa Rosa of the Dominican nuns in Lima. The same picture as in Peru 1968, Mi 572, Sc C148.
Peru 1968, Mi 647, Sc C197.
Portrait of Martín de Pores as lay brother in the priory at Lima.
Painting by the Peruvian artist Enrique Camino Brent (22.07.1909-15.07.1960).
Peru 1968, Mi 648, Sc C198.
Portrait of Martín de Porres by Fausto Conti (17th century).
This picture was shown in the procession of the canonization by Pope John XXIII in Rome, 6th May 1962.
Peru 1968, Mi 649, Sc C199.
Portrait of Martin de Porres by Fausto Conti (17th century),
same as Peru 1968, Mi 649, Sc C199:
With overprint pro navidad / veinte centavos /6-11-68.
Peru 1968, Mi 708, Sc RA56. >>>>>>
<<<With overprint 2.00
Peru 1976, Mi 1018, Sc C439.
With overprint Habilitado R.D.No.0118
Peru 1979, Mi 1134, Sc C496. >>>
Martin de Porres and the Cross.
Peru 2004, Mi 1876, Sc 1375.
Altar with the signs SM (San Martin) and above the statue
of Martín de Porres, flanked by Christmas-roses.
I don’t know the church and the place.
Saint Lucia 1984, Mi 685, Sc 703.
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