Even Saints don’t escape racism
As we in South Africa well know, racism is a great divider of people, and continues to be so around the world.
With our history of apartheid, we do well to look to a Saint who overcame racism – St Martin de Porres.
Born Black and illegitimate in 1579 in Lima, Peru, of an African slave woman and a Spanish nobleman, Martin experienced racial discrimination first hand. Even when he joined the Dominican Order, because he was of mixed race, he wasn’t initially allowed by Peruvian law to wear the habit of the Order. But he was happy to work as a servant, scrubbing and cleaning, as well as caring for the sick.
What stands out particularly about St Martin is his humility and goodness. He worked tirelessly for the poor, giving freely of what little he had, and seeking donations for his work. He also had an extraordinary rapport with animals, and is often depicted with dogs, cats and mice, all eating from the same bowl.
In these days where the racial divide is still present, let us all pray to St Martin de Porres to inspire the world to overcome racism.