Martin de Porres, Friar

3 November -- Commemoration
If celebrated as a Lesser Festival, Common of Religious, page 494

Born in Lima in Peru in 1579, Martin de Porres was the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight and a black, Panamanian freewoman. He joined the Third Order of the Dominicans when he was fifteen years old and was later received as a lay brother into the First Order, mainly because of his reputation for caring for the poor and needy. As the friary almoner, he was responsible for the daily distribution to the poor and he had a particular care for the many African slaves, whose lives were a dreadful indictment of the Christian conquistadores. Martin became sought after for spiritual counsel, unusual for a lay brother at that time. His care for all God's creatures led many to love and revere him and his own brothers chose him as their spiritual leader. He died of a violent fever on this day in the year 1639 and, because of his care for all, regardless of class or colour, is seen as the patron saint of race relations.