nonfiction nuggets…a life of charity towards all

martin de porres cover imageMartin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert, by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by David Diaz

Martin de Porres, the child of a wealthy Spanish father and an enslaved African mother, was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579.  His early years, lived in abject poverty with his mother, held little promise of anything but an anonymous life and death.

Yet, at the age of 8, his father brought him to Ecuador and educated him, returning him to Peru as a doctor’s apprentice.  And here, despite suffering deep prejudices and discrimination, Martin’s gifts of healing blossomed.  Against opposition due to his bi-racial birth, Martin humbly served others, healing those who would allow him to bless them — animals, to begin with, then slaves and the desperately poor; finally his fellow monastery brothers, and eventually, Spanish royalty.

While he could have been an embittered person, exacting vengeance on those martin de porres illustration david diaz 001who had scorned him; or a proud person, mistreating the poor after he’d risen above them; Martin chose a life of uncommon charity and compassion for all.  He was canonized in 1962, the first black saint in the Americas, as the patron saint of universal brotherhood.

Gary Schmidt tells Martin de Porres’ story in quiet, beautiful prose, drawing us along the pathway of his life with well-told, gentle anecdotes, studded with rich detail.  Allowing us to view Martin’s oppressors from a bit of a distance, Schmidt conveys their bigotry steadily, yet quietly, while maintaining a distinct focus on Martin’s generous kindness.

David Diaz, an award-winning illustrator, provides stunning mixed media illustrations which swirl us into this medieval, Latino world. Using line and color reminiscent of medieval painters and stained glass artists, Diaz transports us with the clothing, architecture, and tools of this era, flooding the pages with rich, bold images.

A thought-provoking book about a man who lived with charity towards all, for ages 5 and up.

Here’s the Amazon link:  Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert