Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dancing With the Saints

On the liturgical calendar, today sees the celebration of St Martin de Porres (1579-1639), the Peruvian-born Dominican canonized in 1962, becoming the first Black American to reach the honors of the altar.

Praised with parades and fiestas of all sorts, Martin's cult is still well alive in Latin America, where feast-day revelers perform a traditional dance with his statue.


And that's not all -- having broken the OPs' color barrier, St Martin is honored on these shores as a special patron by the nation's 3 million African-American Catholics.

Still, this is just a prelude -- we're just over four weeks away from the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the "queen of Mexico" whose 12 December commemoration has become Catholicism's biggest night of all on the American continent... indeed, even bigger than Christmas itself.
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And speaking of the saints, Sunday's feast of the Host saw a milestone for their best-selling chronicler of our time.

After 21 years in the Company, Jesuit Fr Jim Martin finally became a "made man" (his term) in the Society of Jesus on professing his final vows (right) at the community's flagship church in New York, St Ignatius of Loyola on Park Avenue.

A fellow son of: 1. an Italian mother, 2. Phillies' Nation, 3. public schools and 4. the Red and Blue -- and longtime friend of these pages, to boot -- Jim's posted the text of his homily, a sweet reflection on the "path to God"... and, of course, those who've shown how best to keep on it.

On a old-school note, with Homecoming close at hand, lest any fellow Quakers be reading out there, the Penn crowd would most revere Martin (W'82) not for the media work that's made him near-omnipresent in church coverage over recent years, but as the quiet hand behind our alma mater's perennial top-selling t-shirt, which (so he says) Jim drew up and Punch Bowl had printed for the 1979 Final Four Run.

If only he kept the rights to it.