Porres, Martín de (1579–1639)

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Porres, Martín de (1579–1639)

Martín De Porres (b. 9 December 1579; d. 3 November 1639), Peruvian saint. Porres was the son of a union between Juan de Porres, knight of the Order of Calatrava, and Ana Velázquez, his black servant from Panama. At first the father failed to recognize his son or daughter Juana. He did so later, and took Martín to Guayaquil to be educated. When Juan de Porres was named governor of Panama, he returned with his children to Lima to get orders from the viceroy. There, the young Martín was confirmed by Archbishop Alfonso de Toribio de Mogrovejo. Juan de Porres left the boy in the care of his mother when he traveled to Panama to assume office.

Apprenticed to a surgeon at the age of twelve, Martín learned the basics of healing. He worked in the store of Mateo Pastor, who sold spices and medicinal herbs, and served the barber-bleeder Marcelo Rivero. Entering the Dominican convent in Lima at age fifteen as lay helper, he professed as a lay brother of the Dominican order on 2 June 1603. He experienced visions and ecstasies, did penance, and at the same time achieved renown for his healing powers and ability to control animals. Moreover, he gained fame for charity and humility. According to one observer, there was "a flood of beggars always awaiting him at the entrance of the convent."

Martín's funeral was attended by a mass of people; the archbishop and viceroy carried his bier. In 1668 there began a long apostolic process that would ultimately lead to canonization. In 1763 his virtues were declared "heroic." He was beatified in 1837, and finally, on 6 May 1962, Pope John XXIII canonized him. The popular festival of San Martín de Porres is celebrated on 3 November.

See alsoDominicans; Rosa de Lima.


Giuliana Cavallini, St. Martín de Porres: Apostle of Charity (1963).

Additional Bibliography

Forcada Comíns, Vicente. San Martín de Porres: Martír de la caridad. Burgos: Monte Carmelo, 2002.

                                   Noble David Cook