Martin de Porres was the unwanted child of a Spanish grandee and a freed African slave. He was born in Lima, Peru in 1579 just forty years after the bloody destruction of the Inca Empire. He was an unusual, bright and gifted child with a mystical bond with nature. Even in early childhood he was fascinated by plants and felt that plants had healing properties.
Martin the Herbalist
Because of his great love for the natural world and his attunement to plants and their healing properties he became an herbalist. Surgery in his day was quite primitive so he began treating illness with herbs and became a master herbalist. With his herbs he treated ailments ranging from infections and fevers to intestinal disorders, parasites and even sprains and fractured bones. He offered his services as a doctor and herbalist free of charge and distributed many thousands of dollars worth of food and clothing to the poor each week-all of which he begged from wealthy families. He founded an orphanage for homeless children and staffed it with the best teachers, nurses and guardians he could find. On the hills of Lima he planted orchards to feed the poor.
Martin Opens a Hospital for Animals
Martin loved animals, and like St. Francis of Assisi considered them children of God. He cared for them with the same tenderness and reverence with which he treated his human charges, mixing herbal formulas for them and performing surgery when necessary. Like St. Francis his love for the animals was well known and he could be seen walking along the streets of Lima with a following of animals who were magnetized by his loving radiance. He never passed by a sick or suffering animal, but took each home with him. He would lovingly nurse their wounds with herbs and their spirits with prayers. He eventually opened a hospital for sick and injured animals, an amazing thing to do in his time.