St. Martin de Porres was born in 1579 in Lima, Peru. His father was a Spaniard, and his mother was a freed colored woman from Panama. Because he was mixed race, Martin was in a lower social caste, although his father made sure he was apprenticed in a good trade.
Martin originally studied to be a barber, which at the time meant he also learned medicine. He was known for his compassion and skill, and cared for many people and animals. Eventually, he joined the third order Dominicans as a lay man, living at the monastery. Martin longed to be a missionary, but was not given the opportunity.
Martin practiced an intense prayer life and mortified himself frequently. He was known to levitate in ecstasy in front of the altar. Many people sought his wisdom, advice, and intercession.
Martin died in 1639, and the cause for canonization was begun shortly after. However, his canonization process took over 300 years due to a series of delays, natural disasters, and shipwrecks. He was finally made a saint in 1962.