Martin de Porres, Saint of the “Least”

How an unwanted son found—and proclaimed—his Father’s love

Martin de Porres, Saint of the “Least”

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Eight-year-old Martin de Porres was not what most people today would call a “normal” child. Living in Lima, Peru, in 1587, the boy was already in training to be a barber, which in his world also meant learning to be a surgeon, pharmacist, and physician.

And there was something else that singled him out: Martin loved to pray. Isabel Garcia, whose house he lived in, would peek into his room late at night and see him on his knees before a crucifix, his face bathed in tears.

What makes a person so devoted to God at such an early age? Some of the factors that we can glimpse in Martin’s story hint at a surprising answer. They show us that in the mathematics of God’s kingdom, even a big minus can be transformed into a plus.

Father Unknown. The great and probably formative “minus” in Martin’s life was that he grew up rejected by his father. Juan de Porres was a Spanish soldier who never married Martin’s mother, a freed African slave; he refused to acknowledge his son because the boy was…

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