Profile The illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman, Juan, and a young freed black slave, Anna Velasquez, Martin grew up in poverty. He spent part of his youth with a surgeon-barber from whom he learned some medicine and care of the sick.
At age 11 he became a servant in the Holy Rosary Dominican priory in Lima, Peru. Promoted to almoner, he begged more than $2,000 a week from the rich to support the poor and sick of Lima. Placed in charge of the Dominican's infirmary; known for his tender care of the sick and for his spectacular cures. His superiors dropped the stipulation that "no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our order" and Martin took vows as a Dominican brother in 1603.
Established an orphanage and children's hospital for the poor children of the slums. Set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. Lived in self-imposed austerity, never ate meat, fasted continuously, and spent much time in prayer and meditation with a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Friend of Saint John de Massias.
He was venerated from the day of his death. Many miraculous cures, including raising the dead attributed to Brother Martin. First black saint from the Americas. Born 9 December 1579 at Lima, Peru Died 3 November 1639 of fever in Lima, Peru