His own father refused to acknowledge him.
With the dark complexion and distinct features he inherited from his mother, a freed slave of African or Native American descent, St. Martin de Porres’s mere existence was upsetting to his father, a wealthy Spanish gentleman.
Not only did Martin’s father abandon Martin and his mother to poverty, he refused to even acknowledge his son’s existence. Left with the physical suffering inflicted by his poverty, St. Martin was also left with deep psychological suffering from the abandonment and neglect of his father.
Yet, despite these unimaginable pains, St. Martin did not grow bitter.
Rather, he became a young man of great compassion, caring deeply for those suffering poverty alongside him.
Although initially apprenticed as a barber and medical practitioner (yes, in Peru in the 16th century, these trades were often practiced together!), St. Martin’s love for his Faith and profound compassion for others led him to enter a life of service. Following God’s call, Martin applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper,” not feeling himself worthy to be a religious brother.
The wounds of his abandonment and neglect still shaped Martin, convincing him that he would always be lesser…unworthy.
But the Dominican brothers he worked with not only recognized St. Martin’s inherent dignity, they recognized his deep and abiding holiness. After nine years, the example of his prayer, penance, charity, and humility led the community to request him to make a full religious profession.
St. Martin was instrumental in founding an orphanage, took care of slaves brought from Africa, and managed the daily alms of the priory with practicality as well as generosity. He would regularly experience ecstasies that lifted him into the air and light would often fill the room where he prayed. He also possessed the gifts of bi-location, miraculous knowledge, and instantaneous cures.
St. Martin de Porres put his whole life in God’s hands. Beginning with the difficult circumstances of his birth and childhood, he humbly surrendered everything to the will of God. Today on his feast day, let us be inspired by St. Martin and follow his example of radical surrender. The Surrender Novena Chaplet is a powerful way to practice trust in Our Lord. The novena encourages us to surrender ourselves to Him, so that He can “take care of everything.” Bring home your Surrender Novena Chaplet from The Catholic Company today!