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Vigils Reading – St Martin de Porres
November 3, 2022
A reading about the early life of St. Martin de Porres,
Martin de Porres was born in the royal city of Lima, Peru, South America, on December 9th, 1579. His father was a Spanish nobleman, a native of Burgos and a knight of the Order of Alcántara, who like so many of the conquistadores had come to America to advance his fortunes, spurred on by the almost unbelievable stories of the fabulous wealth of the Indies. His name was Don Juan, and in his travels in the New World he had met a beautiful Negro woman in Panama, names Ana Velázquez. She was the mother of Martin. The child definitely inherited the dark skin and features of his mother=s race, which quickly displeased the Spanish cavalier, Y and the proud father felt that the dignity of his family had been impaired and he lost much of the affection he had entertained for the child=s mother. YDon Juan finally deserted Ana after the birth of another child, a daughter named JuanaY.
Little Martin endured all the pangs and sorrows of being an unwanted childY and he was little given to play or to a manifestation of interest in childish trifles. He was deeply religious, finding a refuge from the unfavorable environment of his childhood at devotions in the neighboring church. The boy was especially generous to the poor, often distributing to beggars the basket of provisions which he had purchased in the market for his mother. When he returned home with an empty basket, his mother would scold and chastise him, but soon this unique little boy became the object of admiration in the section of the city where he dwelt.
At the age of twelve he was apprenticed to a barber. In those days a barber did much more than cut hair and trim beards. He was also a surgeon, a physician, a druggist. Little Martin was delighted, for now he could learn to be of real service to his beloved friends, the poor. He learned with great eagerness how do bind up wounds, to allay fevers, how to brew soothing drugs form herbs, how to set broken limbs, to make poultices, and generally, all the medical knowledge of that era for the relief of the diseases and ailments of humanity.Y
Martin was deeply appreciative of the helpful interest which the barber-surgeon who was his teacher manifested towards him, and his teacher in turn seemed to realize the great good that his young apprentice was destined to accomplish in the future. Through study and practical experience Martin learned from him all about the materia medica of those days. In his charity, the young man practiced his profession gratuitously; any fees which were voluntarily given to him he soon distributed to the indigent. His own needs were very few; he led a life of unselfish zeal in behalf of his beloved poor and sick.
The fame of this youthful doctor soon became a topic of conversation throughout all Lima. His skill as a physician, his evident self-forgetfulness, his intense interest in the welfare of his patients, the all-encompassing nature of his charity, his patent personal holiness, and manifold miraculous cures gave him a reputation from which in his modesty he naturally shrank. However, Martin=s success made him all the more grateful to Almighty God for thus giving him the opportunity of doing good to so many. Yet he sensed the need of a higher sanction for the program of his Christian social service,Y which he was [eventually] to find in all its fullness as a member of the Order founded by St. Dominic.
The Life of Blessed Martin de Porres, New York: P. J. Kenedy, 1937, pp. 12-17.