Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martin de Porres

I have been watching the education arguments for & against extending public school unfold & it seemed like a good time to introduce Martin de Porres, the patron of public schools (& some other timely patronages which we will get to when we get to them).

I think it is only fair to lay my bias right out there, just in case anyone is new or somehow missed it: although we have no children, we are big big believers in public education. Not because A is a professor at a public university. Once upon a time he worked in the private sector & still believed in public education. While I would agree with Bill Maher that if you want the village to help raise your child you should check with us before you reproduced, once the kids are here we have to deal with them. In this & so many other ways I find myself in direct opposition with anti-choice abortion activists; as far as I can tell once those kids are born they are someone else's problem, but I digress.

Every day I marvel that our culture expects to go into debt to get a car or a more upscale roof over their heads (I have relatives who actually took out a loan to pay for their wedding), but an education should be paid for out of taxes people are proud to cheat on. The arguments my kids are already through school/go to private school/I don't have kids just will not fly with me. Last time I checked it was a good thing when the cashier at the pharmacy could read, that the day care center attendant could do basic math, that the traffic cop could write legibly. Yes, even that last one is a good thing. Whether or not you are or were a direct consumer of public schools, you are an indirect consumer every day of your life & probably a few after you are gone &/or before you ever got here.

Which brings me to today's feastee: Martin de Porres. Trust me you are going to love him.

Martin de Porres is the son of a Spanish noble & a freed slave. Now would be the time to mention he is the patron of bi-racial & mixed race people. He went to work at a young age where he begged professionally. The sites call him an almoner, but the definition has changed since the 16th century. In Martin de Porres's time the almoner was expected to raise his own funds. The money was then distributed to the poor & he is the patron of poor people. He was so effective at this, so unrelenting in his work ethic that the Dominicans decided to drop the stipulation that “no black person may be received to the holy habit or profession of our Order”. This is also how he comes to be represented symbolically as a broom. A new broom. A new broom sweeping. Are you hearing me?

Martin de Porres established an orphanage & a children's hospital in the slums of his hometown (Lima, Peru) & is also the patron of public health. He went on to set up animal shelters for the cities stray dog & cat population. Another of his official representations is a dog, a cat, a bird & a mouse eating from the same dish.

Martin de Porres is invoked by those seeking social justice as well as those seeking inter-racial harmony. He is also patron of some less explicable things: television, hairdressers & Biloxi, Mississippi. Oh & those seeking public option health care, they pray to him, too.

1 comment:

  1. While I didn't actually do it, borrowing money to put on a wedding is considered an investment in some circles/cultures. They then calculate the cost of gifts owed by those who accept the invitation. They also expect others to pay for most of their other activities.