Our Patron


Juan Martin de Porres Velázquez (known afterwards as ‘Martin’) was born in the city of Lima, in the Viceroyalty of Peru, on 9 December 1579.


Martin was the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Don Juan de Porres, and of Ana Velázquez. Ana was a freed slave from Panama, and of African (or possibly part native American) descent.


The father abandoned the family, and Martin grew up in poverty. Ana Velázquez supported her children by taking in laundry, and for a time entrusted her son to a primary school. She then placed him with a barber-surgeon (a sanguenero) to learn the medical practice of those times. This would have included the skilled use of leeches.


As he grew older, Martin spent hours of each night in prayer. He felt called to the religious life.

The feast day of Saint Martin de Porres is November 3.

By law in Peru, descendants of Africans and of native Americans were barred from becoming full members of religious orders. The only route open to Martin was to ask the Dominicans of Holy Rosary Priory in Lima to accept him as a donado, a volunteer who performed menial tasks in the monastery in return for the privilege of wearing the habit and living with the religious community.


At the age of 15, Martin asked to be admitted to the Dominican Priority, in Lima. He was accepted first as a servant boy. As his duties grew, he was promoted to almoner.


Martin continued to practice his old trades of barbering and healing, and was said to have performed many miraculous cures. He also took on kitchen work, laundry, and cleaning. After eight years at Holy Rosary Priority, the prior Juan de Lorenzana, decided to turn a blind eye to the law and permit Martin to take his vows as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic.

In 1603, when Martin reached the age of 24, he could have professed religious vows as a Dominican lay brother. Out of humility, he is said to have several times refused this further elevation in status, and he never became a priest


He founded a residence for orphans and abandoned children in the city of Lima.


Pope Gregory XVI beatified Martin de Porres on 29 October 1837, and 125 years later, Pope John XXIII canonized him in Rome on 6th May 1962. He is the patron saint of people of mixed race, and of innkeepers, barbers and public health workers.