The lives of the saints help me to fix my gaze and see in them evangelical values, qualified witnesses of Christ, models of discipleship, which encourage me to look at my life and see which of the virtues that the Holy Spirit has given me I am cultivating so that something of God is also reflected in me. Saint Martin de Porres, a Peruvian saint, a model believer, an expert in humanity and charity. When I got to know his life, I became aware that holiness has no skin colour; all that is needed is to love without limit and that capacity only comes from God.
Martin suffered a lot because of his skin colour. Racism, that difference that we human beings make, distinguishing our fellow human beings by the colour of their skin, is so senseless. And the worst thing is not the distinction that is there, but the fact that it leads to the undervaluing of people (necessarily different) for the performance of trades, jobs, salaries and esteem in society.
Saint Martin de Porres was a religious of the Order of Preachers, the son of a Spaniard and a black woman. Despite the limitations arising from his condition as an illegitimate son and mulatto, he learned medicine and the trade of barber, which he generously exercised in Lima, a Peruvian city, for the benefit of the poor.
The figure of Martín de Porres, " fray broom ", " the little brown one ", " Saint Martin of the poor ", " Martin, the good ", " Martin, the charitable ", whatever you call him, breathes freshness, novelty and topicality. He is one of those saints who do not "go out of fashion". The variety of names people use to call him says a lot about how people, especially the poor and simple people, have kept him in their memory.
His virtues include: his unwavering spirit of prayer, his special devotion to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to the Virgin Mary and to Jesus crucified, his devotion to fasting and penance, his austere and humble life, but radiating with charity. As for prayer, more than one witness reports that, even in the midst of his occupations, he found space to hide in the most secret corners of the convent or the church to give himself to the contemplation of the divine. In this way, he gradually adapted himself to the values of Christ, allowing himself to be transformed by them.
He identified with the native Indians, who lived as a conquered people, subjugated by the Spaniards who had conquered Peru in 1533; he identified with the African slaves who were forced labourers in the gold and silver mines; he identified with all those of mixed blood in his city, those who thought they belonged to no one.
Martin cared for the poor in so many ways that he has often been considered the founder of today's social work profession. Without doubt his work exemplified the true spirit of Christian social work: recognising the dignity of each person and caring for them in the same way that Jesus would care for them.
He died on 3 November 1639, asking his brothers for forgiveness for his bad examples. The so-called "broom saint" was the first black saint in America.
Like Martin, Jesus wants to transform us, the faithful of today, so that our own lives may also be a living testimony of His love and mercy. Are we willing to let Him work in us? Do we surrender our faults and virtues to God and seek Him wholeheartedly?
With fraternal greetings from Sister María Fanny Terán
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