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About this commemoration
Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a young black former slave. Because Martin inherited the dark skin of his mother, his father abandoned the family.
Martin apprenticed to a barber-surgeon and after learning the trade, he applied to the Dominicans to be a “lay helper.” Placed in charge of the infirmary, he was known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His faithfulness led the community to request his religious profession. The stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our Order,” was dropped, and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother in 1603.
Martin was a good friend of Rosa de Lima, who shared his passion for the sick and the poor. Rosa was exceedingly beautiful and, because of her family’s fading fortunes, she feared being married off to a wealthy man in exchange for her dowry. Not wanting this to happen, Rosa disfigured herself. In order to contribute to her family’s upkeep, Rosa took in sewing and served as a gardener.
Her passion for the poor, however, eventually led her to the Third Order of St. Dominic where she became a recluse. Out of her prayer grew a strong desire to do works of mercy for the poorest of the poor, particularly for Indians, slaves, and others on the margins of society.
Toribio de Mogrovejo was born in Spain in 1538 and became a brilliant student of law and theology. In 1580, the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru, needed a new leader and Toribio was chosen. He objected because he was a layman, but was overruled, ordained priest and bishop, and arrived in Peru in 1581 as archbishop.
Confronted with the worst of colonialism, Toribio fought injustice in both the church and the civil order. He baptized and confirmed nearly a million souls. Among his flock were Rosa de Lima and Martin de Porres. He founded many churches, religious houses, and hospitals, and, in 1591, founded the seminary at Lima.
Collect of the Day
Merciful God, you sent your Gospel to the people of Peru through Martin de Porres, who brought its comfort even to slaves; through Rosa de Lima, who worked among the poorest of the poor; and through Toribio de Mogrovejo, who founded the first seminary in the Americas and baptized many: Help us to follow their example in bringing fearlessly the comfort of your grace to all downtrodden and outcast people, that your Church may be renewed with songs of salvation and praise; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 7:32–36
Preface of Baptism
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.