CANONISATION OF MARTIN DE PORRES
FFICIAL delegations of the governments of Peru and Spain will be among the many thousands of pilgrims who will crowd Si, Peter's Basilica early on Sunday morning for the Canonisation of Marlin de
The Peruvian Government delegation will be headed by Presi dent Prado y Ugarteche, Spanish Foreign Minister Fernando Marla Castiella y Muir will lead his government's delegation.
Since 1939 Martin has been patron of social justice in his native Peru by presidential decree. The government document called him "forerunner in Peru and all the Americas of works of social service".
By Fr. Geoffrey Lynch, 0.1'.
ALL sorts of questions will be asked about Martin de Porres now that his canonization has been fixed for this Sunday, May 6, but Martin has not come suddenly into prominence like a bolt from the blue. Don't think tha1! he was a bright and burning light in Lima during the latter part of the sixteenth cen
tury and for nearly 40 years of the seventeenth.
In 1642 news of the heroic sanctity of Martin was promulgated to the whole Dominican Order. He was beatified 125 years ago. As a man of Lima he is considered to have been one of the most illustrious sons of Peru. His father was a Spanish Grandee, and his mother was a freed-negress. Martin was their dark-skinned illegitimate son.
Up to the age of 12 he had not had so much as a simple or etcmentaty education, but he knew the law of God, and it made a real impact on his life. Round about the age of 12 or 13, his father who had previously deserted his little family, (there was a sister to Martin, called Joanna), returned to Lima and ensured that his children received some form of elementary education, Martin was quick at learning and endowed with a retentive memory, After his brief schooling Martin was apprenticed to a barbersurgeon. It is recorded that he used to ask his landlady for candle-ends to burn at night in order to keep up his spiritual reading. By the time he was in his early teens he was already known for his saintly life and ready kindness. There was a spontaneity about his charity.
HIS work at what must have "been a rough and ready clinic gave him the kind of opening he most wanted. Through care and kindness he brought swift and consoling help to all his patients. His employer found him to be quick to learn, dedicated to the art of healing and wonderfully compassionate. The work of the clinic gradually increased as rich and poor came for help. It seemed to each of them that Martin had all the time in the world for their troubles, for he was never brusque or unsympathetic.
When work delayed him until late at night, he extended his hours of prayer so that his talking to God was not impeded by the pressure of the work he did for
For a long while he cherished the idea of becoming a religious, a dedicated man of God. The big question was, would he he accepted? He was a Mulatto and an illegitimate. Would these things prevent the fulfilment of his one desire? His master, and many other folk, too, tried to persuade him not to leave the clinic, but he was determined to try his vocation.
He was 15 when he presented himself at Lima's Priory of the Most Holy Rosary to ask if they would accept him. The Dominicans knew all about him, and received him with joy.
The Prior, being a realist, put Martin in charge of the sick in the infirmary a busy task, because the Priory had something in the region of 200 friars, and no doubt there were many sick among them.
It was not long before the sick experienced his skill and care; whatever he did was done sweetly.
But whilst superbly kind to others Martin was very hard on himself. He fasted severely. His brethren used to say that he spent as long as seven hours a day in prayer.
How he managed to cope with all he had to do is quite astcnishing. Obedience for Martin did not mean doing the bare minimum. Had he been a minimum giver there would have been no children's orphanage in Lima, and neither would many young girls have received dowries to enable them to make suitable marriages. With Martin there was extraordinary vision. He was a real social reformer-an anticipator of health schemes (but at no coat, except to Martin).
At the age of 24, after nine years in the Priory, Martin was invited by his Superiors to take solemn vows.
He performed countless miracles and so he became known as Lima's wonder-worker. Levitation was one of his common experiences, as his brethren testify.
Very often they saw Martin drawn up from the floor to the foot of the high Priory crucifix. Furthermore, the perplexing effects of bi-location caused the brethren some confusidn at first, because people called at the Priory from far-off parts of the world to thank him for his help when they were in distress. The brethren's ansacties of course sprang from the fact that they knew only too \veil that Martin had never left Lima!
Because Martin was drawn to "Charity Personified" he knew just what charity meant, and the whole of his life was ordered to the process of being drawn closer and closer to God.
He died in 1639 just before he reached his 60th year.
Marlin joins an illustrious band of Canonized Saints; and coloured
ones too. for as we know, canonization is no prerogative of the white folk only, but for all races whether coloured or white.
In lima, Martin's two personal friends were St. Rose of Lima and Blessed John Massias both Dominicans, both horn of the coloured race. Benedict the Moor, is a canonized Saint, he too, was a coloured religious-a Franciscan.
Martin's canonization meets an obvious need. In times of racehatred and unfair discrimination it must do us all a lot of good to know of an illegitimate Mulattoa person who might have been called in his day, "scum of the earth" or a "dirty nigger" becoming a canonized Saint.
It will be the endeavour of the Saint Martin de Porres Missions' Centre to try to carry on Martin's type of work at Hawkesyard Priory. To encourage devotion to Martin we have shrines in the Dominican Churches of London, Leicester, Woodchester, Newcastle and Hawkesyard. Hawkesyard houses the lay-brother novices and is the training place for young men who would aim at following in Martin's footsteps.
Please ioin with us in our endeavours to further the kind of work Martin did unite your prayers with ours so that God may bless the missioners and give us many more men of the calibre of this great Saint of God, Martin de Porres.