Sunday 12 September 2021

Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston - CTS Great Saints

Martin de Porres
CTS Great Saints
Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860824142
eISBN 9781784693817
CTS Booklet B691

This is the tenth volume from the pen of Glynn MacNiven-Johnston that I have read. Her books seem to be either biographies or prayer and devotional books. I have now read a several of each type, and they are all excellent reads. I have been trying to work through all the volumes in the CTS Great Saints Series. I am a huge fan of the Catholic Truth Society’s books and booklets. I have read many volumes from the CTS Great Saints Series, CTS Biographies, and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved almost all of them. I have read over 200 books from the Catholic Truth Society over the last few years. I have loved most, and benefited from all of them. This volume was originally published in 2007 and the eBook edition was released in 2017. The description on the back of the book is:

“Martin de Porres is a saint whose popularity has remained undiminished despite his obscure history as a seventeenth century Dominican in South America. His humility and love, in the face of racism and prejudice make him a model for our own time of conflict. In 1962 he became the first South American black saint and patron of interracial brotherhood. It was however, his care for the poor, the suffering and even sick animals that made him famous in his own lifetime. He performed many miraculous cures in his lifetime and to this day is prayed to with great effect for help in a variety of spheres.”

And the chapters in the volume are:

Background and Early Life
Life as a Dominican
A Man for Others
St Francis of the Americas
Sickness and Death
Holiness and Virtue Recognised
Do not be afraid!
Prayers to St Martin de Porres

I have read about Saint Martin de Porres before, and not only from the movie The Saint starring Val Kilmer. This little volume is an excellent introduction to the saint, and offers some great devotions and prayers to him. We are told in the introduction that:

“Martin de Porres was born in 1579, in Lima, Peru. Lima at that time was a frontier town, a gold rush town, and at the same time, it was ‘the pearl of the Spanish Domain’.”

We are also informed that:

“Slavery was a large commercial venture and racism was considered normal. Society was rigidly structured. Who you were was very important. Snobbery was rife. Becoming rich was not enough, you also had to come from a noble family. First were the Spanish-born, then the whites born in Latin America and at the bottom the heap, the blacks and Amerindians.”

We learn about his father, his mother. We do not know the date of his birth but we know the date of his baptism, Wednesday 9th December 1579. We learn about his early sufferings, and his early life of service:

“The virtues which marked him out as an adult, his compassion for the poor and his love of prayer, were already there in his childhood. Ana would send him out to buy food but he would give the money away, leaving his family with nothing to eat.”

We learned that he loved the novices of the order, and had great concern for them.

“Martin had great concern for the novices. He was like a father to them. He looked after all their needs so that they only had to concentrate on their studies. And sometimes he helped them with their studies. They were dumbfounded to have this servant help them to understand Aquinas.”

There are many incredible stories about his life. Communicating with animals. Healing people and animals. And even bilocation. 

“A Spanish nobleman, who was visiting Lima, recognised Martin as the man who had regularly visited him in prison during the long years he was held for ransom by the Muslims in North Africa. Martin, it seems, like Padre Pio, was granted the gift of bilocation, the possibility of being in two places at the same time, since once he had entered the priory, he never left Lima.”

We are informed that:

“At the Canonisation Mass Pope John XXIII gave this summary of St Martin’s significance for Christians. 

‘The example of Martin’s life is ample evidence that we can strive for holiness and salvation as Christ Jesus has shown us: first by loving God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind; and second by loving your neighbour as yourself.”

And that is one of the great benefits of this book. We can read about Martin’s life and it will inspire us to be more. To become the best version of ourselves. To strive to be saints. Furthermore we are challenged by:

“But saints’ lives always show us something; so what is it that Martin’s life shows us? He shows us that God’s grace can overcome everything. A boy who was poor and abandoned by his father, truly found his real father in heaven. A man who was despised and racially abused did not look to be admired, to be loved, to be served or to avenge the injustice he received. Instead he became Christ for others. He challenges us not to doubt that God’s grace can do the same for us if we ask for it. The greatest commandment, as Christ said, is to love God with all our hearts and all our minds and all our strength and our neighbour as ourselves.”


“The life of Martin de Porres shows that it is and, as John Paul II always told young people, we should not to be afraid to be saints.”

And then the last section of the book is a series of prayers:

Prayer for the intercession of St Martin
Novena in honour of St Martin
Simple Novena to St Martin
Prayer to St Martin, Apostle of Humility
Traditional Prayer to St Martin
Litany of St Martin

This is an excellent book in a wonderful series. I have a list of prayers I try and pray every day. Several of those prayers have come from books in this series, and other CTS books and booklets. This story is so inspiring and challenging, I challenge you to give it a read. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books about Saint Martin dePorres:

Books by Glynn MacNiven-Johnston:
Maria Goretti Teenage Martyr
Pier Giorgio Frassati Inspiration for Students
Father Damien Apostle to the Lepers
Martin de Porres

Rita of Cascia 

Prayer Books:
Handbook of Novenas for Feasts and Seasons
Devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
The Infant of Prague
Handbook of Novenas to the Saints: Short Prayers for Needs & Graces
Handbook of Scriptural Novenas: For Various Needs and Intentions
Devotion to St Jude: Patron of Hopeless Cases

A Book of Novenas

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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