Sauntering with St. Martin de Porres


Readings for the Feast Day of St. Martin de Porres

This reflection was shared at Sacred Saunter Outdoor Eucharist on Saturday August 24, 2019 at Sequoia Park in Eureka. 


Last time we were here, we commemorated St. Francis’s friend St. Clare of Assisi. Today, we celebrate the St. Francis of the Americas: St. Martin de Porres, a Peruvian saint who lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. He was born to a Spanish nobleman and a freed slave from Africa. Because of this interracial union, Martin was often the victim of racism and prejudice. He was often called a “bastard” and a “mulatto dog,” but like the Methodists and the Quakers and others who reclaimed names that were originally intended as insults, St. Martin flipped the script and said, “Ok, you’re going to call me a dog? Guess what? I love dogs. Dogs are awesome.” And he ended up joining a religious order that has been referred to fondly as “The Hounds of God” or the “God Dogs”: the Dominicans, which in Latin sounds a lot like Domini canes: the Canines of the Lord.


As a Dominican, St. Martin prayed often all through the night and served the poor and healed the sick throughout the day. He was known to have performed miracles such as levitation and bi-locations and multiplication of food. But he is perhaps known for his gentleness towards animals, especially dogs. He is known to have raised a dead dog back to life. And he is often pictured with a dog, a cat, and a mouse all drinking milk from the same dish, all at peace and harmony in the presence of the saint. And when rats had infested a convent and Martin was ordered to poison them, he instead politely asked the rats to leave and promised to feed them and they agreed. (So he’s great if you’re looking for some non-violent rodent removal). 

IMG_2636.jpgAs we continue our saunter, I invite us to follow in the footsteps of St. Martin by trying to walk in peace and harmony and in agreement with the life around us. After the Prayers and the Passing of the Peace at the pond, we will walk through part of the Sequoia Creek trail; and as we do, I again invite us to be intentionally silent and look for one thing (a stone, a leaf, a stick or twig) to offer upon our tree trunk altar this morning. We will then offer our gifts at the altar silently or with a brief word of explanation as you feel led. And may our silent walk be a prayer in the spirit of St. Martin de Porres who said, “Everything, even sweeping, scraping vegetables, weeding a garden and waiting on the sick [perhaps walking the dog] could be a prayer if it is offered to God.”


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