Historical Saturday: Saint Martin de Porres

S.F. Basilica:  Saint Martin de Porres
Saint Martin de Porres, Mission Dolores Basilica, S.F.

On a recent visit to the Mission Dolores Basilica, I noticed the statue of a black saint that greeted people as they entered the church from a side courtyard.  What really caught my attention was the addition of a real broom which he held in his hands.  Yes, a real broom slipped through the porcelain hands of the statue.  I could have taken it out of his hands and used it to sweep the floor.

According to Wikipedia, his name is Martin de Porres (1579 – 1639), and he was a lay brother for the Dominican order.  He was illegitimately born to a former black slave and a Spanish nobleman.  In 1962, the memory of him was honored by canonization, and he is now know as the patron saint of “mixed-race people and all those seeking interracial harmony.”

Why the broom?  Because he believed that “all work is sacred no matter how menial.”  As with the statute at the Basilica, he is usually accompanied by a cat and a dog which drink out of the same dish.

Cheers!

Mike

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