- by Mount Saint Mary College
Mount Saint Mary College

Celia Cussen, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Chile in Santiago, will present “The Life and Legacy of Saint Martín of Porres: From Peruvian Healer to International Patron of Racial Justice” at Mount Saint Mary College on Tuesday, March 7 at 4 p.m.

The free, public event will take place in the Mount’s Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, room 218.

Martín of Porres (1579-1639) was the son of a Spaniard and a formerly enslaved woman from Panamá. He took the robes of a lay brother in the Dominican convent in Lima, Peru.

Cussen’s presentation will trace how Martín’s reputation as an exceptional healer and man of great compassion became globally known and the basis for a worldwide campaign for his canonization in the 20th century.

“His story of resilience and kindness resonated with Catholics everywhere during the mid-century campaigns for the rights of marginalized groups in the United States, Ireland, and elsewhere,” noted Cussen. “The expanding devotion to Martin culminated with his canon.”

Cussen is the author of Black Saint of the Americas: The Life and Afterlife of Martín de Porres (2014). More recently, she has written about the trade of enslaved Africans and their descendants in southern South America. By confronting the challenges of racialized hierarchies in the colonial world, these men and women attempted to attain their freedom.

Her newest research project looks at the emergence of a global devotion to Martín of Porres in the decades leading up to his canonization in 1962. She is particularly interested in the meanings his life and intercession took in local settings, including the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

The event is sponsored by the college’s Catholic and Dominican Institute (CDI). CDI promotes the Mount’s heritage of St. Dominic, advances the Dominican charism of study and service, provides a forum for discussion of contemporary ethical issues, and enhances Catholic and Jewish dialogue.


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