Friday, October 10, 2008
I'm not Catholic but...
I love the meltingpot of my life. Without even trying I can't help but discover examples of cultural co-mingling and am always pleased when they intimately resonate with my own life experiences. For example...
The other day I was walking down the street in Chestnut Hill, which is a cute, quasi-suburban neighborhood in Philadelphia. I was running errands on the one commercial street and noticed a flyer announcing a local race for charity. Proceeds for the 5K run will go to support a local school called Saint Martin de Porres. Now I've driven past that school many times and could never recall why the name sounded familiar. But as I continued reading the flyer I knew. I wrote about Saint Martin de Porres in my book, Kinky Gazpacho, because he was one of the Black saints I discovered in a church in the south of Spain. And sure enough, on the flyer there was a picture of a Black saint in a friar's robe and running shoes.
So just for fun, I googled Saint Martin de Porres to find out more about him and it turns out that he is a SpaNegro just like my sons. Born in Lima, Peru in 1579, Martin had a Black mother (Afro-Panamian) and a Spanish father. You can read more about him on his official Catholic website but Wikipedia has a more extensive description of his life and acts of good works. They say this about him:
" [Martin de Porres] work on behalf of the poor was tireless: he established an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and forswearing meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals."
His story is fascinating and I'll definitely be looking out for a good biography about him. If I can't find one, maybe I'll have to write one myself. (Would you read it?) But there's more. I found out that Saint Martin de Porres is also the patron saint of Mixed Race people and barbers. Hello! You couldn't pick two topics more relevant to my life. I'm not Catholic but I think St. Martin de Porres deserves a prominent place in my Kinky Gazpacho home.