Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was the principal celebrant and homilist for the 50th annual celebration of the canonization of Saint Martin de Porres recently.
Martin de Porres was one of the first Black saints from the Americas. He was born in Lima, Peru in 1579 and died on Nov. 3, 1639. He was canonized on May 6, 1962. His feast day is Nov. 3.
During the celebration at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the first African-American deacons of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were recognized for 30 years of faithful service. Among them were Deacon Thomas Shields, St. Martin de Porres Parish; Deacon Edward Purnell, St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish; Deacon Stephen Hopkins, St. Benedict’s Parish; and Deacon Richard Nightingale, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish.
Chaput was initiated into the Catholic Fraternal Order of the Knights of Peter Claver during a ceremony prior to the memorial celebration.
The Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. is the largest historically African-American Catholic lay organization in the United States. The order is named for Saint Peter Claver, the Spanish priest who ministered to African slaves. Tit was founded in Mobile, Ala. circa 1909 and is presently headquartered in New Orleans. In 2006, a unit of the order was established in San Andres, Colombia, South America.
The Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary will host their 98th annual National Convention at the Philadelphia Marriott in Center City, July 19-24 next year.