Wednesday, May 19, 2010

St. Martin death match!

If I could pick the saint that's attached to my name, I'd pick St. Martin de Porres over St. Martin de Tours any day!

St. Martin de Tours

I learned some interesting tidbits on St. Martin de Tours on Wikipedia. St. Martin de Tours was a French soldier and is a patron saint of France and of soldiers. His main claim to fame is that one day in the dead of winter he was riding along and saw an old, naked beggar. Martin split his own cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. Later on, as the story goes, the beggar turned out to be Jesus. Then Martin's cloak was restored to whole and became a relic. This cloak (or chape in French) was prayed over for victory in battle. The person who carried the chape was called the chapelain, from which we get the word chaplain. Neat, huh?

After a while, Martin became a bishop of Tours, and really liked converting pagans. One of his tactics was to chop down a sacred pine. This sacred pine was probably big and old. Now, where I come from, chopping down big, old trees does not gain you friends, much less beatification.

At various California mission gift shops, I've seen a St. Martin de Tours prayer card with the prayer:

Blessed Saint, you were born under pagan ways but since your childhood you were chosen to be a prince of the Church and, as Bishop of Tours, many souls were redeemed and liberated from the satanic forces through your prayers, austerities and blessings.

We humbly ask for your intercession before Our Lord Jesus Christ because we want to be worthy of the Holy Spirit that lead us from darkness to light into the eternal kingdom, forever and ever.
So this Frenchie saint is all about converting pagans and praying before going into battle? Wow.

St. Martin de Porres

(Yeah, I know. The picture is really bad because he looks like a white dude wearing black face. Not cool.)

In contrast, St. Martin de Porres was a mixed baby (Spanish father, black Panamanian mother) who--despite the really rough life of being a mixed baby in Peru in the late 16th and early 17th centuries--cared tremendously for the sick at the infirmary of the poor Dominican monastery in Lima where he was a lay brother. He also cared for animals, even kitchen vermin, and might have been a vegetarian.

He is the first black saint from the Americas and is the patron saint of mixed babies, interracial relations, and social justice.

The prayer on the back of the St. Martin de Porres prayer card is:

Most glorious Martin de Porres, whose burning charity embraced not only thy needy brethren, but also the very animals of the field, splendid example of charity, we hail thee and invoke thee! From that high throne which thou dost occupy, deign to listen to the supplications of thy needy brethren that, by imitating thy virtues, we may live contented in that state in which God has placed us and carrying with strength and courage our cross, we may follow in the footsteps of Our Blessed Redeemer and His most afflicted Mother, that at last we may reach the Kingdom of Heaven through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Charity and social justice? I can support that!

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