Miamoto was part of an anthropology and dentistry group that spoke at a Nov. 3 presentation on the reconstructed face of the Peruvian saint.
The presentation coincided with the unveiling of the face, constructed by a team of specialists from research based on the saint’s skull.
Thousands of the faithful packed the Basilica of the Most Holy Rosary in Lima for the event.
A Solemn Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Raúl Antonio Chau of Lima, and concelebrated by Dominican priests. In the homily, the bishop emphasized St. Martin’s humble service and recalled the words of St. John XXIII, who called him “Martin of Charity” at his canonization Mass.
A team of researchers using 3D technology reconstructed the Black saint’s face, and found it strikingly similar to the depiction of unknown Peruvian artists from his time.
A new reconstruction of the face of St. Martin de Porres reveals the face of the Dominican brother as he was in life, as well as his physical suffering: the saint had trouble eating toward the end of his life, due to the fact that he was missing most of his teeth.
When St. Martin died, he had only two teeth left, and would have had great difficulty chewing, said Dr. Paulo Miamoto, pointing to the distortions in the saint’s upper jaw.
Once the Eucharistic celebration was over, Father Luis Ramírez, prior of St. Dominic Convent where Martin lived, introduced the specialists from the NGO Ebrafol, a Brazilian forensic anthropology and dentistry team that headed up the study.
The specialists gave details on how they were able to reconstruct through digital 3D imaging the face of the famed Black saint.
For his part, 3D designer Cicero Moraes explained that when he made the graphic representation of the saint’s face, the result coincided closely with an old painting and a statue of the saint by unknown artists that are kept at St. Dominic’s convent.
The research on the project was a collaborative effort between the NGO Ebrafol, St. Dominic’s Convent and the universities of St. Martin de Porres and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega in Peru. The group has previously recreated and unveiled the faces of St. Rose of Lima and St. Juan Macías.
The son of a Spanish nobleman and a black slave woman, St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru in 1579. A talented medical apprentice, he sought to enter the Dominican Order, but was initially prevented from becoming a religious brother due to a Peruvian law at the time that prevented people considered of “mixed race” from joining religious orders.
Instead, he lived with the community and did manual work, earning the nickname “the saint of the broom” for his diligence, and care in cleaning the Dominicans’ quarters. Eventually, he was permitted to join the order despite the Peruvian law, and he worked with the sick in the infirmary. He died on November 3rd, 1639.
The Saint That Came In
From The Cold
Even though Martin de Porres became very popular among the poor during his life, and his holiness was recognised by some of the community, including the prior, at the same time, the almost constant demands to see "Brother Martin" at the door was a continual trial to others. It took a good hundred years after his death for the Dominicans to show any united enthusiasm for his cause; but, since then, devotion to the saint has been widespread among the poor in countries as far from Peru as Ireland, due to the preaching of Dominican friars.
The Dominicans were not united in their appreciation of St Martin in his life time.
Those who opposed him were not indifferent to his zeal for justice and his strong desire to set slaves free: the Dominicans had an honourable history of condemning the slave trade. One prior of Santo Domingo's Priory where St Martin lived even refused communion to the Viceroy for possessing slaves.
Nor was there any lack of miracles: indeed, St Martin worked miracles with such frequency at one time that he was distracting the community from its duties and causing divisions between those who supported him and those who wanted him to fade into the background. There were those who were jealous of him and who believed that, in a community of such well known and intelligent Dominicans, the attention of the outside world should not be centred on the man that swept the floors. The prior forbade him to work miracles, and he obeyed.
Of course, even at an ordinary human level, St Martin was much more than someone who swept floors. He was a highly gifted pharmacist and, once in vows, he was placed in charge of the health of the Dominican community and of the workers on its estates, as well as of the queues of people who came to the door.
His greatest characteristics were his charity during the day, his hours of prayer at night, and his utter obedience to his superior and brethren. No wonder the poor have recognised his holiness and have confidence in his prayers.
St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru on December 9, 1579. Martin was the illegitimate son to a Spanish gentlemen and a freed slave from Panama, of African or possibly Native American descent. At a young age, Martin's father abandoned him, his mother and his younger sister, leaving Martin to grow up in deep poverty. After spending just two years in primary school, Martin was placed with a barber/surgeon where he would learn to cut hair and the medical arts.
As Martin grew older, he experienced a great deal of ridicule for being of mixed-race. In Peru, by law, all descendants of African or Indians were not allowed to become full members of religious orders. Martin, who spent long hours in prayer, found his only way into the community he longed for was to ask the Dominicans of Holy Rosary Priory in Lima to accept him as a volunteer who performed the most menial tasks in the monastery. In return, he would be allowed to wear the habit and live within the religious community. When Martin was 15, he asked for admission into the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima and was received as a servant boy and eventually was moved up to the church officer in charge of distributing money to deserving poor.
During his time in the Convent, Martin took on his old trades of barbering and healing. He also worked in the kitchen, did laundry and cleaned. After eight more years with the Holy Rosary, Martin was granted the privilege to take his vows as a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic by the prior Juan de Lorenzana who decided to disregard the law restricting Martin based on race.
However, not all of the members in the Holy Rosary were as open-minded as Lorenzana; Martin was called horrible names and mocked for being illegitimate and descending from slaves.
Martin grew to become a Dominican lay brother in 1603 at the age of 24. Ten years later, after he had been presented with the religious habit of a lay brother, Martin was assigned to the infirmary where he would remain in charge until his death. He became known for encompassing the virtues need to carefully and patiently care for the sick, even in the most difficult situations.
Martin was praised for his unconditional care of all people, regardless of race or wealth. He took care of everyone from the Spanish nobles to the African slaves. Martin didn't care if the person was diseased or dirty, he would welcome them into his own home.
Martin's life reflected his great love for God and all of God's gifts. It is said he had many extraordinary abilities, including aerial flights, bilocation, instant cures, miraculous knowledge, spiritual knowledge and an excellent relationship with animals. Martin also founded an orphanage for abandoned children and slaves and is known for raising dowry for young girls in short amounts of time.
During an epidemic in Lima, many of the friars in the Convent of the Rosary became very ill. Locked away in a distant section of the convent, they were kept away from the professed. However, on more than one occasion, Martin passed through the locked doors to care for the sick. However, he became disciplined for not following the rules of the Convent, but after replying, "Forgive my error, and please instruct me, for I did not know that the precept of obedience took precedence over that of charity," he was given full liberty to follow his heart in mercy.
Martin was great friends with both St. Juan Macías, a fellow Dominican lay brother, and St. Rose of Lima, a lay Dominican.
In January of 1639, when Martin was 60-years-old, he became very ill with chills, fevers and tremors causing him agonizing pain. He would experience almost a year full of illness until he passed away on November 3, 1639.
By the time he died, he was widely known and accepted. Talks of his miracles in medicine and caring for the sick were everywhere. After his death, the miracles received when he was invoked in such greatness that when he was exhumed 25 years later, his body exhaled a splendid fragrance and he was still intact.
St. Martin de Porres was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on October 29, 1837 and canonized by Pope John XXIII on May 6, 1962.
He has become the patron saint of people of mixed race, innkeepers, barbers, public health workers and more. His feast day is November 3.