In Lima, Peru, in the early 1600s near Christmas, as a Dominican volunteer named Martin was trying to clean the church at night, some mice began squeaking, running, and scratching in the dusty corners. In the church where Martin prayed, creatures were stirring near Christmas—and especially a mouse.
If mice stirred on the night before Christmas, what would you do? Would you start yelling and poking them with a broom? Martin did something different.
Martin liked to be kind to all creatures, even the lowliest like mice. Talking gently, he led the mice out of the church and asked them to live in the garden. Setting up their homes away from the potatoes, under the trees and in the flowers, the furry animals didn't create any more trouble in the Dominican church building where Martin prayed.
For eight years, Martin volunteered with the Dominicans, a group who were living a Christian life. He could only do small chores like cleaning and cutting hair. Since Martin had a Spanish father and an African mother, he was not allowed to become a full member, because laws at that time did not allow someone of mixed race to participate. However, finally the leader of the group realized the law was unjust and welcomed Martin as a full Dominican.
After Martin became a full Dominican, he worked in the infirmary, a place of healing. He cared for the sick, showing compassion to all. According to stories, Martin, with the help of his sister, even created a small shelter for animals, helping cats and dogs, long before today, when it is more common to do so.
Martin believed in being welcoming to all even though he was not always welcomed. Martin kept sharing his faith and kindness even when he met people who were still learning to share and care.
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I'm Sherry Weaver Smith, author of The Wolf and the Shield: An Adventure with Saint Patrick. I like to have adventures in getting outside in nature, crafting, and cooking as I explore our Catholic faith with my daughter. We want to be inspired by the saints!