New Mexico’s Popular Saints

San Martín de Porres. Art by Marie A. Luna.

Today, November 3rd, is the Catholic feast day of San Martín de Porres. The Black saint is the patron of hairdressers, public health workers, persons of mixed race, racial tensions and Peruvian television. San Martín was born in Lima, Peru on November 9th. He was the illegitimate son of a Spanish knight and a freed Panamanian woman. After becoming a Dominican lay brother in 1594 he started an orphanage and a foundling hospital. In addition, he ministered to African slaves brought to Peru. According to local legend, San Martín was able to bilocate: the ability to be in two different locations at the same time. The Peruvian saint was also a close friend and follower of Santa Rosa de Lima. There are two churches in New Mexico that honor San Martín de Porres. One of the churches is in Albuquerque and the other is at Sunland Park in the southern part of the state.

Santa Rosa de Lima

Santa Rosa de Lima. Art by Marie A. Luna.

Santa Rosa de Lima is the Patroness of Central and South America, as well as florists, gardeners, Peru, and the Philippines. She was born in 1586 under the name Isabel de Santa Maria de Flores y del Oliva, fifty years after the Spanish conquest of that region. Santa Rosa is also known as the friend and mentor to San Martín de Porres. She is the patron saint of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. There is a mission church in Las Cruces named for the Peruvian saint and also a church in her name in Abiquiu, a region better known as “O’Keeffe Country.”

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