Patron Saint of Social Care

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Följande text är hämtad från Revival Fires av Jesus Army.

Lima, Peru, was not the happiest place to grow up. Founded by the Spanish conquistadors, it had known mistrust and bloodshed ever since.

Martin de Porres was born here in 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a former black slave. He was to spend his whole life in the city – and most of it in one building.

From an early age, Martin loved Jesus and had a heart of compassion for the poor. Whatever money came his way he gave to them. At 15, he became a servant in the Dominican convent, where everyone was struck by his loving heart to God and his brothers. The order at that time did not accept non-whites to be friars, but when Martin asked to be admitted, they knew they had to waive the rules.

So at 24 Martin became a friar. Because of his great compassion, he was put in charge of the infirmary – and remained in this post for the rest of his life.

He cared for the sick of the city as well as the convent. If he saw a beggar covered in ulcers, or an Indian stabbed in a brawl, he would carry them back to the infirmary – or if this was full, to his own cell – and care for them. When an epidemic struck Lima and Martin filled the infirmary with the sick and dying, his superiors rebuked him for endangering the lives of his brothers.

”Please forgive me and instruct me,” he replied, ”but I thought love was the highest command of all.”

Many divine healings happened when Martin prayed, but he also nursed the long-term sick with great patience and love, and usually a smile. Whenever he could, he withdrew to pray, because he knew the source of his service had to come from Jesus. Martin rejoiced in his celibacy, since it freed him from cares that would have cut into his ability to serve. No task was too menial for him; often he swept out the kitchens himself, even though there were servants to do this. The broom became his symbol: the sign of a servant.

Martin’s warm heart also reached out to animals. He volunteered to feed and groom the convent’s horses, on top of his other duties, and several times a sick horse was healed when Martin prayed. In art, he is often painted with mice at his feet. The story goes that he was so upset when the friars set traps that he prayed and took authority over the mice – after that, they would visit him in his cell but troubled no-one else!

Martin fed, sheltered and tended the poor right up to his death, aged 60. He paid the dowry for poor girls to be able to marry. He established an orphanage and a school, where he taught poor children a trade or homemaking skills. When he died, his fame had spread far and wide. Thousands attended his funeral, where he was called ”the Apostle of Charity”, and in more recent times he was made the Roman Catholic Church’s patron saint of social care.

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