St. Martín de Porres was born illegitimate in 1579 in this beautiful preserved building in Lima that belonged to his mother a colored freed-woman from Panama. His father was a Spanish gentleman. With fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary in Lima and spent his whole life there as a barber, farm labourer, almoner, and infirmarian. Today the Birthhouse of San Martin de Porres houses a social institution for seniors and women.
San Martin de Porres devoted himself to ceaseless and severe penances. In return God endowed him with many graces and wondrous gifts. St. Martin's love was all-embracing; devoted equally to humans and to animals (many statues show him with a dog, a cat and a mouse). He was a very close friend of St. Rose of Lima. He died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized on May 6, 1962. His shrine is located within the Convent of Santo Domingo in Lima, alongside with Saint Rose and Alonso Abad.