by Sr. Elizabeth Marie DeDomenico, FSP
Martin was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a knight from Spain. His mother was a freed slave from Panama. His father left Martin and his mother and sister without support. They were very, very poor. Martin grew up devout and good. When he was twelve, he was sent to learn the trade of a barber. He also learned how to cure many diseases. Martin's father finally decided to provide for his son's education. However, Martin wanted to give himself to God as a Dominican brother. Brother Martin soon proved to be a wonderful religious. No one was kinder, holier, or more obedient. He served his fellow religious as a barber and infirmarian. He was also in charge of giving food to the poor who came to the doors of the Dominican house. He founded an orphanage and a hospital, and he cared for the sick around the city of Lima. Before long, he became well known for his kindness to the poor and sick. Despite his fame in Lima, St. Martin always had a very humble opinion of himself. His name for himself was, in fact, "Brother Broom."
Martin died on November 3, 1639. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope John XXIII in 1962. Children who read the story of Martin de Porres will be attracted to the goodness of this humble brother. Often it is the aggressive and the powerful who get their way and command respect through fear. After reading the life of Martin, children will see another way to gain the respect of others through service and personal integrity.
Ages 8 – 12