Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Martin de Porres (1579–1639)

Saint Martin de Porres (1579–1639)

Patron saint of African Americans, people of mixed race, barbers, hairdressers, public health workers, race relations, and social justice

Feast day: November 3

Martin de Porres lived in Peru in the sixteenth century. The sin of racism was alive and well and Martin, being of mixed race, was treated like a slave. His family lived in poverty because his Spanish father abandoned them after Martin was born. He trained as a barber, which meant he learned some medical knowledge, as doctors were often not available. The local barber was called upon to treat medical problems and was taught the medicinal uses of various herbs. 

As an adult, Martin joined the Dominican order and lived the Beatitudes of Christ by caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the sorrowful. His care and love extended to animals, whom he often helped to heal of sickness and injury. With the help of his sister, he founded the first animal shelter in the New World.

He is a great model of forgiveness for what he endured at the hands of racists. (From Take Ten: Daily Bible Reflections for Teens [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain-70)