Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?


Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."


As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."


November 3: Saint Martin de Porres, Patron Saint of Social Justice

Posted by Jacob

Today, November 3, we also celebrate the feast day of Saint Martin de Porres, (1579-1639), patron saint of social justice, and my patron birth saint (as today is my birthday!). Saint Martin is also known as “Martin of Charity,” “the Charitable,” and “Saint of the Broom” as he willingly and joyfully embraced any chore, no matter how menial. Saint Martin’s life of love for all creatures, service, and social justice are made all the more admirable by his profound humility.


Martin was born in Lima, Peru in 1579, at the height of Spanish colonization and exploration. Born of mixed race, his father was a Spanish explorer, and his mother was a local Indian woman. Early in his childhood, Martin discovered prejudice firsthand, as his father was ashamed of his dark complexion and chose to abandon he and his young mother. Years later, his father would regret his rash decision, come to see the error of his beliefs, and take Martin into his care.

Martin grew up in a time where local Indians were actively discriminated against, and he bore the brunt of that discrimination as well. As a young boy, he often heard himself referred to as a “half-breed,” and through this constant demeaning critique developed a sense of profound humility which he carried throughout his life. Martin came to understand the need for social justice, as granted through the embracing of the Christian faith, and through the grace and peace of the Lord was able to bear the perceived inadequacy of his origins. He was baptized by Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, and from his youth exhibited a deep devotion to the Eucharist, and a deep affinity for Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Rosary.

Upon reaching school-age, Martin’s mother could no longer care for he and his sister, and he was placed in a primary school administered by the state. After two years, at age 10, he was then apprenticed to a surgeon to learn the medical arts. Martin was overjoyed with this arrangement, as it provided the youth an opportunity to exercise charity to his neighbors, while at the same time earning a slight amount of money—the majority of which went to his struggling mother and sister. Drawn ever closer to the Lord, Martin began (even at this young age) spending his nights in prayer, rather than sleep, and undertaking significant austerities and physical mortification (self-flagellation) for his failings and the conversion of sinners. He fasted daily and never ate meat. As he increased in age, his time in prayer and penance increased.

As a young man, Martin begged admission to the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima, Peru, and despite his mixed race, was received first as a tertiary at age 15. At 24, he was given the habit of a Coadjutor Brother and assigned to the infirmary of that convent. There, Martin would humbly serve, providing whatever task—however menial—that was needed, until his death at the age of sixty. In him, his superiors and brothers discovered the virtues necessary to exercise unfailing patience in this difficult role, and they looked to him as an example of patience, humility, love, and charity. Before long, miracles began to occur at his hand, with the terminally ill and those thought to be beyond recovery being healed by his words and ministrations. Sometimes, a glass of water procured by the holy man was sufficient to remove the fever and symptoms of the ill!

But Saint Martin did not limit his work to the wards of the infirmary. He moved beyond the walls, tending to the people where they lived—often those who were forgotten, disenfranchised, maligned, and overlooked by society. For these poor souls, as well as to sustain the Convent, he spent long hours each day begging for alms, and was always rewarded by the Lord. Generally, Saint Martin collected enough alms and food to feed 160 poor persons every day, and distributed a remarkable sum of money every week to the indigent. Over time, he became the procurator for both convent and city, whether it was a matter of "blankets, shirts, candles, candy, miracles or prayers!" When the convent found itself in debt, he said to his superior, "I am only a poor mulatto. Sell me. I am the property of the order. Sell me!"

Saint Martin was graced with the extraordinary ability of bilocation—the ability, provided by God, to be in more than one place simultaneously. While he never left the city of Lima, during his lifetime he was seen in many places, including Africa, China, Mexico, Algeria, and Japan. For example, an African man who had been held enslaved reported knowing Martin, recounting how the saintly man had came to relieve and console many like himself, telling them of heaven. Later, upon arrival in Peru, this same slave was very happy to meet Saint Martin again, inquiring if he had had a good journey home. Only then did he learn that Martin had never left Peru. Similarly, a merchant in Mexico fell ill and called upon Saint Martin, saying: “Oh, Brother Martin, if only you were here to care for me!” Immediately, he saw the pious saint enter his room, and was miraculously cured. Only later did the merchant learn that Saint Martin had never been in Mexico. He was further observed to experience ecstasies while praying, would be surrounded by a heavenly light, and occasionally would rise off the ground in communion with the Lord!

Saint Martin remained an example to his brethren, and to the citizens of Lima. He was always the first one to rise, and the last one to sleep, filling his days with constant prayer, praise, and work. He was instrumental in founding an orphanage for the poor children of Lima, started an animal hospital, and went out of his way to seek out those who others forgot about. No one was turned away from his aid, and he accepted all as they were, placing their needs above his own. One day, an aged beggar, covered with ulcers and almost naked, stretched out his hand, and Saint Martin, seeing the Divine Mendicant in him, gave up his own bed to the man, paying no heed to the fact that he was not filthy and likely contagious. One of his brethren, considering he had gone too far in his charity, reproved him. Saint Martin replied: “Compassion, my dear Brother, is preferable to cleanliness. Reflect that with a little soap I can easily clean my bed covers, but even with a torrent of tears I would never wash from my soul the stain that my harshness toward the unfortunate would create.”

Similarly, in his daily ministry, Saint Martin was graced with miraculous abilities. When an epidemic struck Lima, the sick of the convent were locked away, far from the others, so that they might not infect them. Saint Martin is known to have passed through the locked doors to care for them, a phenomenon which was observed in the residence more than once. Observed on both sides of the locked doors, his Superiors forbade him to continue bringing the sick to the convent for assistance. Martin continued to treat them, with his sister providing lodging to those the convent could not accommodate. Soon thereafter, he discovered a poor Indian man on the streets of Lima, bleeding to death from a dagger wound. Given the distance to his sister’s home, he took the man to the convent, lodging him in his own room. His Superior, when he heard of this, reprimanded Martin for disobedience, but was surprised at his response. Saint Martin said sincerely: “Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity.” Following that exchange, his Superior gave him liberty to follow his inspirations in the exercise of mercy. Further, he came to be recognized for possessing a bright theological mind (although he was far too humble to offer his thoughts unless ordered to by a superior), and frequently resolved the theological dilemmas of the priests and bishops of his community.

Saint Martin is remembered for his love of all God’s creatures, caring for not only the people of the city, but stray dogs, animals, even vermin—many of whom would seek him out for healing. No creature was beyond his love and charity. He is well remembered for the legend of the rats of the convent. It is said that the prior, a reasonable man, objected to the rodents that plagued the kitchen and cells of the brothers. He ordered Martin to set out poison for them. Ever obedient, Saint Martin did as he was told, but at the same time felt very sorry for the rats. He went out into the garden and called softly to them--and out came the rats. The holy man reprimanded them for their bad habits, warning them about the poison. He further assured them that he would feed them every day in the garden, if they would refrain from annoying the prior. This they agreed upon. Dismissing the rodents, they never troubled the monastery.

A close friend of Saint Rose of Lima, together they raised the poor and marginalized of Lima from desolation into the light and faith of Christ. Along the hope, they enacted significant social reform, including wages, healthcare, and education! By the time of his death, Saint Martin was known to the entire city of Lima, and especially revered by the poor and struggling of the city who had considered him as a saint while living. News of his miracles had spread, and these miraculous occurrences continued following his death at his tomb side. Upon exhumation, his body was found to be intact and incorrupt, giving off a fine fragrance of holiness.

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 neighbor as yourself.” We are called, today, to embrace the humility and social justice so perfectly modeled by Saint Martin de Porres! Personally, I could not ask for a better patron saint on the day of my birth!

From the canonization homily delivered by Blessed Pope John XXIII

“When Martin had come to realize that Christ Jesus “suffered for us and that he carried our sins on his body to the cross, he would meditate with remarkable ardor and affection about Christ on the cross. He had an exceptional love for the great sacrament of the Eucharist and often spent long hours in prayer before the blessed sacrament. His desire was to receive the sacrament in Communion as often as he could. Saint Martin, always obedient and inspired by his divine teacher, dealt with his brothers and with that profound love which comes from pure faith and humility of spirit. He loved men and because he honestly looked on them as God’s children and as his own brothers and sisters. Such was his humility that he loved them even more than himself, and considered them to be better and more righteous than he was. He did not blame others for their shortcomings. Certain that he deserved more severe punishment for his sins than others did, he would overlook their worst offenses. He was tireless in his efforts to reform the criminal, and he would sit up with the sick to bring them comfort. For the poor he would provide food, clothing and medicine. He did all he could to care for poor farmhands, blacks, and mulattoes who were looked down upon as slaves, the dregs of society in their time. Common people responded by calling him, “Martin the charitable.” He excused the faults of others. He forgave the bitterest injuries, convinced that he deserved much severer punishments on account of his own sins. He tried with all his might to redeem the guilty; lovingly he comforted the sick; he provided food, clothing and medicine for the poor; he helped, as best he could, farm laborers and Negroes, as well as mulattoes, who were looked upon at that time as akin to slaves: thus he deserved to be called by the name the people gave him: ‘Martin of Charity.’ It is remarkable how even today his influence can still move us toward the things of heaven. Sad to say, not all of us understand these spiritual values as well as we should, not do we give them a proper place in our lives. Many of us, in fact, strongly attracted by sin, may look upon these values as of little moment, even something of a nuisance, or we ignore them altogether. It is deeply rewarding for men striving for salvation to follow in Christ’s footsteps and to obey God’s commandments. If only everyone could learn this lesson from the example that Martin gave us.”


To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

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