(Universalis) He was born in Lima in Peru, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a black ex-slave. His mother gave him a Christian education and he became a pharmacist and a nurse. Despite his father’s opposition he entered the Dominican Order as a lay brother in 1603 and spent his life working for the sick and the poor. Many people of all ranks would come to him for advice. He had a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. He has been named as a patron saint of those of mixed race.
I remember receiving a sympathy card from my mother-in-law's brother. My father had just died and I was overcome by grief. That grief would eventually propel me into the journey toward the Catholic Church, but in the days and weeks that followed Dad's death, I couldn't lift my head to see anything good on the horizon.
When the sympathy card came, I looked at it and thought it was odd, one of those very Catholic-looking things. An artist's rendering of a man who lived a few hundred years ago. A name that was quite strange. A story on the back of the card that talked of a Catholic man's holiness, including the gift of levitation during prayer. No one on my side of the family would ever send a card like that - or even buy one, for that matter.
For some reason, that very-Catholic-card stayed in my memory, even after I put it away with the other sympathy cards.
I don't know when it happened and I don't know how it happened, but somewhere along the way, those icons and artist's renderings and old photos of long-dead saints have become a path to my Lord. I treasure their stories. Their lives speak to me, regardless of how different their cultures were from my own. Regardless of how long ago they lived.
And their stories come at just the right moment. Something about their journey will resonate with me in one season of life, and a completely different aspect of their lives will speak to me in another season of life.
And so it is with St. Martin de Porres.
He came to me in January of 2004, to comfort me in grief.
Today, he comes to me in a season of joy. Like St. Martin de Porres, my grandson will be of mixed race. My first grandchild will come sometime in the next few weeks. And he already has a patron saint on his side.
St. Martin, patron saint of those of mixed races.
I pray that my grandson will learn to love God and serve God. I pray that he will find his ultimate calling and purpose in the Lord, like his patron saint.
St. Martin de Porres, pray for us!