St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru on December 9, 1579, the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentlemen and a freed slave of African (or possibly native American) descent. His early life was spent in poverty and he was eventually apprenticed to a barber-surgeon. Despite the laws that forbade non-whites from becoming full members of religious orders, Martin joined the Dominicans as a volunteer helper, eventually becoming a lay brother.
He was renowned for his charity and love of the sick and poor. He established an orphanage and children‘s hospital for the poor children of the slums; he also set up a shelter for the stray cats and dogs and nursed them back to health. Even during his lifetime miraculous cures and powers were ascribed to him. Martin died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962. He has become the patron saint of Peru, people of mixed race, innkeepers, barbers, public health workers and more.