Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Meekness is the virtue that enables one to overcome the tendencies of anger, revenge, hatred, and enmity. …meekness presupposes the virtue of charity or love of neighbor, which provides the motives and the means of overlooking insult, injustice, and injury, real or imaginary, from others. (1)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth,” announced our Lord in His Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:5)

“The meek are not those who are never at all angry, for such are insensible; but those who, feeling anger, control it, and are angry only when they ought to be. Meekness excludes revenge, irritability, morbid sensitiveness, and but not self-defence, or a quiet, and steady maintenance of right.” Theophylact, Archbishop of Acris in early 5th Century. (2)

“Meekness is love at school, at the school of Christ. It is the disciple learning to know, and fear, and distrust himself, and learning of him who is meek and lowly in heart, and so finding rest to his soul.” Reverend James Hamilton, British clergyman in 19th century. (3)



Pope John XXIII at the canonization of St. Martin on May 6, 1962 remarked, “He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing, and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves; thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: Martin of Charity.” (3)

St. Martin’s birth in Lima, Peru on December 9, 1579, to Anna Valazquez, a free black woman, and John de Porres, a Spanish nobleman, began a life that witnessed to meekness that did presuppose charity. His father abandoned him and his sister because of their dark skin for 8 years. Martin exhibited a call to holiness even in childhood. Many times, Anna would send Martin to market with a few coins and a basket to purchase food and Martin would return home penniless and with an empty basket. Martin felt a great need to help the poor and would use the money to aid those in need. If Martin came across a church on his way to market, he always stopped to greet and visit with his Heavenly Father and the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he had a great devotion. (4)

Martin lived with his father in Ecuador for four years where he received schooling. When his father was sent to govern Panama, Martin returned to live with his mother in Peru. At the age of twelve, Martin had to choose a trade to help earn a living for himself and his mother. Martin trained to be a barber, which in those days meant not only cutting hair and beards, but also letting blood, treating wounds and fractures, and even prescribing medicine for the more ordinary cases of illness. A barber was in fact, at the same time a surgeon, doctor and pharmacist.
Martin could have earned a great deal of money and lived in comfort with his mother, but the same charity which drove him as a small child, now moved him to devote himself to the poor. On a typical day, he set out at daybreak and along the way between his home and the shop, stopped for long periods of time in the church of St Lazarus, serving at many Masses. After having spent the whole day in the effort to perfect himself in his profession and use it to help the poor, he shut himself up in his room to feed his soul with spiritual reading and prayer.

Over time, the cry of Christ dying on the cross – “I thirst”, had aroused in Martin a thirst for the honor of God through the salvation of souls, and he felt an irresistible desire to respond with all the ardor of his soul. By the age of fifteen, Martin chose to present himself to the Friars Preachers of the monastery of the Holy Rosary. He requested the humblest post in the monastery; that of a “donado” – a lay helper. The donados took upon themselves the heaviest tasks and were considered as ranking below the lay brothers. John de Porres, his father, did everything in his power to have Martin become a lay brother rather than a donado but for years Martin refused and remained a lay helper.

Martin’s work in the monastery included sweeping the cloisters and the corridors and cleaning the toilets. Martin seized his broom and had it in his hands so often that it later became a distinguishing mark in pictures and statues of Martin de Porres. His skills as a barber and doctor lead the superiors of the monastery to entrust Martin with the care of the sick and he resumed the full exercise of his profession.

Martin proved to be a great organizer and eventually founded an orphanage, a hospital, schools and a home for young women to stay in before being married. Martin’s charity embraced not only the people of Lima but even animals that would come to him to be healed. Martin spent his whole life doing good for others. He practiced severe austerities, fasting daily and scourging himself three times during the night. Martin wore only the most thread bare habit and an iron chain around his waist. Martin predicted his own death in the fall of 1639 when he became ill with a type of malaria. Filled with love for God, he asked for the Sacraments and said, “This is the end of my pilgrimage on earth.” With his Dominican Brothers around his bed chanting the Salve Regina and the Creed, Martin died on November 3, 1639, at the words: “…and he became man…” (5)

From caring for African slaves to collecting needed items for the priory and the city, he exhibited meekness and charity. He was known to everything from “ blankets, shirts, candles, candy, (to) miracles or prayers.” (6)
Side by side with his daily work in the kitchen, laundry and infirmary, God chose to fill Martin’s life with extraordinary gifts: ecstasies that lifted him into the air, light filling the room where he prayed, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and a remarkable control over animals. He is known to have declared at one point when the priory was in need of funds, “I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the Order. Sell me.” (7)
Devotion to St. Martin encourages families to keep his statue in their kitchens, and their cupboards will always be filled with food.


For Thy power, O Lord, is not in a multitude, nor is Thy pleasure in the strength of horses, nor from the beginning have the proud been acceptable to Thee: but the prayer of the humble and the meek hath always pleased Thee. Judith 9:16

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.


Father of the poor, Patron of the needy, Help of the Sick
O GOD, Who has given us In Your humble Son,

Our Lord Jesus Christ, The model of all virtue And perfection,

Grant to us The virtue of humility.

We think so little of You Because we are So full of ourselves.

We cannot love You more Until humility shows us Our own nothingness

And makes us rejoice In our complete Dependence upon You.

You have given to the world a glorious apostle of humility: ST. MARTIN DE PORRES.

Guide us by his example And strengthen Us through his intercession

In our efforts To conform our hearts To the humble Heart Of Your crucified Son.

May the glory of sainthood Which you have Deigned to bestow Upon Brother Martin

Draw the world closer And closer to You.

Renew, O Lord, in these days When pride and forgetfulness Of You are so widespread,

The wonders which You performed Through Your humble servant During his lifetime.

Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be (3 times each.) (8)


1. Catholic Treasures, pg.34

2. The New Dictionary of Thoughts, Standard Book Co., 1960

3. Saint of the Day, Vol.II, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1975

4. St. Martin de Porres Parish Church, Lake Charles, LA

5. Ibid.

6. Saint of the Day, pgs. 135-137

7. Ibid.