LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

S. Martin de Porres

Today is the Feast Day of S. Martin de Porres; a Dominican Lay Brother who achieved a huge amount in South America in his sixty years.

This picture is apparently a contemporary, and accurate, picture of him; which leads one to realize that many of the statues and pictures which one sees - being conspicuously negroid - perhaps contain a discreet, and excusable, but nonetheless inaccurate, message about race . . .

In any event, he contributed greatly to the well-being of many of those about him in distressed and difficult circumstances, and should remind us of our obligation to offer our care to all those about us who need our assistance and support.


  1. Thanks DM. I have just a thought though. How can you have an accurate picture of someone who lived so long ago? How does anyone really know anything about the exact tone of Martin De Porres' skin? And what does it matter, really? We know he was mixed race, and that was enough to earn him a life time of prejudice and discrimination. That is why his image to call upon humanity to make it stop. Still, I would like to know - how do people know an what a person from so long ago actually looked like? xxx

  2. Thank you.This is a compelling and very plausible image. According to the Wikipedia credits it is said to be by an unknown painter, 17th Century and from the Monastery of St Rose of Lima.If the provenance is correct it seems very likely to be accurate.

    European artists of the period (Rembrandt and Velazquez were contemporary, for example)had little difficulty in making accurate portraits and while one might not expect to find artists of the first rank in the colonies of the New World there were already native Peruvian artists working within a European idiom by the mid 17th Century some of whom are known by name.

  3. How accurate can this picture be when this is not a Dominican habit? The habit of a Dominican Cooperator Brother is very distinct. It was something St. Martin de Porres wore proudly.

  4. Faith;
    I can't answer your question except to say that (i) it's a very old painting, always named as him; and (ii) it's at least possible that there have been slight local variations, particularly in 'worship' or 'work' clothing . . . but I do agree that it doesn't exactly look like a conventional habt.