Saturday, November 3, 2012

For the Feast of St. Martin de Porres

* A great favorite of ours for many reasons, Martin de Porres is especially lovable to me, as a mom, for his sweet humility and cheerful acceptance of menial chores.  A man of low birth and even subject to contempt in his time, dear  St. Martin  rose to lofty heights of spirituality, but, you'd never have known it by his demeanor.  He was as comfortable sweeping the courtyard of the monastery as he was settling family disputes in town or miraculously saving a man falling off of a high building.  Always cheerful, always self-effacing, always a practical man, in Martin is usually represented in iconography with a broom, or lowly animals (especially mice), but he is on record as one of the most amazing miracle workers on the calendar of saints.  The illegitimate son of a black slave and a Spanish nobleman, he was fortunate to have been trained as a barber/surgeon (It always astounds me that those two skills were paired together back in the day!), and was well-known throughout his hometown of Lima, Peru, for his charity before he ever became famous for his wonders.  His life of penitence and prayer, and his particular charity to all -- man and beast -- set him apart in Heaven and on Earth.  But, his miracles!  Well, let's just say it's wonderfully faith-affirming to hear the stories of St. Martin's wonders!

Here are just a few, from here:

Among the many miracles attributed to Saint Martin were levitation, bilocation (being in two places at one time), miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures, and an ability to communicate with animals.

Working with the sick outside his convent, Martin is said to have often effected their healing with only a simple glass of water. One day, an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Martin took him to his own bed, paying no heed to the fact of his condition. One of his fellow monks, considering he had gone too far in his charity, reproved him. Martin is recorded as replying: “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”

Deeply devoted to the sacrament of the Eucharist, Martin reportedly remained at prayer before the sacramental altar one night despite a fire that broke out, remaining in blissful contemplation while confusion and chaos reigned around him.

When an epidemic struck Lima, 60 residents of the convent took sick, many of them novices in a distant and locked section of the monastery, separated from the those who had taken Holy Orders. Martin reportedly passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was observed in the residence more than once. The ordained monks, too, reported suddenly seeing Marin appear beside them without the doors having been opened.

And, one of our favorite stories, from here:

On the lighter side, often we see Martin pictured in his Dominican habit holding a broom, with a mouse and dog at his feet. There is an interesting anectdote about mice. One time there seemed to be a mouse "convention" in the wardrobe room of the monastery, where they feasted on the finest linen garments and sheets, leaving the old ones untouched. Some of the monks wanted to poison the rodents, but Martin would not hear of it. One day he caught a little mouse and held him gently, and said, "Little brother, why are you and your companions doing so much harm to the things belonging to the sick? Look; I shall not kill you, but you are to assemble all your friends and lead them to the far end of the garden. Everyday I will bring you food if you leave the wardrobe alone," After Martin let go of the mouse, there was scurrying from every nook and cranny and the procession started towards the monastery garden. Martin, tall and slender, with long strides, led the mice to their new home. Everyday he brought them a meal and no mouse ever set claw or tooth in the monastery wardrobe.

 And, so, today, we made mice in honor of St. Martin!

Twinkies, with a quarter end cut off (and eaten), then the rest frosted with chocolate icing (which ended up all over everyone's hands and faces -- and not a little bit in our tummies)...

Then, bits of candy for the eyes and nose, Raisinettes for the ears and little feet, and uncooked spaghetti noodles stuck in for whiskers.  We wanted thin black licorice for the tails, but couldn't find any at the store, so we just settled for a piece of brown yarn. 
 And here it is.  Dessert after dinner tonight and a sweet remembrance of a great feast!

Bl. Martin is the patron of:
 the diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, black people, hair stylists, innkeepers, mixed-race people, Peru, poor people, public education, public health, public schools, race relations, social justice, state schools, television,Mexico

(Note how St. Martin is the patron saint of public health?  I expect we should be applying to him for some intercession in Washington right now...)

He lived between 1579 and 1639; here are the details of his death and commemoration, found here:

Martin was a friend of both Saint John de Massias and Saint Rose of Lima. When he died in Lima on November 3, 1639, Martin was known to the entire city. Word of his miracles had made him known as a saint throughout the region. As his body was displayed to allow the people of the city to pay their respects, each person snipped a tiny piece of his habit to keep as a relic. It is said that three habits were taken from the body. His body was then interred in the grounds of the monastery.

After he died, the miracles and graces received when he was invoked multiplied in such profusion that his body was exhumed after 25 years and said to be found intact, and exhaling a fine fragrance. Letters to Rome pleaded for his beatification; the decree affirming the heroism of his virtues was issued in 1763 by Pope Clement XIII. Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres in the year 1837. Nearly one hundred and twenty five years later Blessed Martin was canonized in Rome by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962. His feast day is November 3rd.

** Must-haves regarding St. Martin:  St Martin's Mice story book, St. Martin de Porres, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, St. Martin De Porres, Apostle of Charity by: Giuliana Cavallini

* This post reprinted from November 2009 -- with a couple of pictures of Bl. Martin added.  Look how little the children were!  Goodness, time flies!  And I have so little right now at this juncture of my life, that I have to rely on old posts!  My apologies, friends -- but I didn't want to neglect the feast of dear Bl. Martin today.  I miss blogging, though -- and the camaraderie of other blogging friends that I don't get time to visit with lately, either.  Hopefully I'll be able to work sitting at the computer back into the swing of things here soon...


Diana said...

This was so very interesting Lisa. I think that we could have used a visit from St. Martin in our house these past few weeks.
The mice were the cutest mice I have ever seen. Wish I had one right now!
Love Di

Kim H. said...

Lisa, you are so wonderful to always put together such beautiful posts about the Saints. And Dominicans have a special place in my heart, so thank you for telling us all about St. Martin.

And those deserts -- just the cutest little things EVER! (Of course, not as cute as your wee ones though!) :)

Tuesday HUGS!

MightyMom said...

thank you for introducing me to this Saint.

what wonderful stories there are about him.

say, you're my there a good beginner's book you'd recommend to me for learning about the more popular saints? kinda an intro to the saints??? I get so overwhelmed with them all...

GrandmaK said...

Thank you!!! This is a wonderful post. I learned some things I didn't know about St. Martin. The Legend of the Mice is very good!

The mice are just too cute to eat...NOT! Cathy :)

Soutenus said...

I am linking to you!
We reserved The Pied Piper of Peru and it didn't come in until today so we are still celebrating this Saint's Feast Day.
I did not know much about St. Martin de Porres. But now, after my post and then YOURS!!! -- I know a little bit more and I am so very glad to know him better!

Bia said...

Our middle son had to do a report on Martin de Porres ...

truthfully, your's is much better;))

Thanks for all your "saintly posts"