St. Martin de Porres was a mulatto, living in Lima, Peru, who became a Dominican lay brother known for his humility, and his apostolate to the sick and the poor. Traditionally he is also popular for his kindness to animals. St. Martin is invoked as the patron of African-Americans, social justice, interracial harmony, and social workers.
The novena booklet includes morning and evening prayer, Novena to St. Martin de Porres, Prayer in Time of Need, Prayer to St. Martin for Interracial Harmony, and more.
The tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church. Christians have always prayed for various needs, trusting that God both hears and answers prayer. The word "novena" derives from the Latin term novem, meaning nine. In a novena we pray a prayer for nine days. "But," we might wonder, "doesn't God know our needs before we event ask? Isn't praying once for something enough?" Although we believe in God's love for us, something we need to remind ourselves of this. Although we know we are held in God's hands and that God will not let go, sometimes we need reassurance. What may appear to be mere repetition in a novena is really a continual act of faith and hope in our loving God.
Just as we pray for each other while here on earth, those who have gone before us and are united with God in heaven can pray for us and intercede for us as well. We use the term "communion of saints" to refer to this exchange of spiritual help among the members of the Church on earth, those who have died and are being purified, and the saints in heaven. Devotion to the saints can help us witness to our faith and encourage us in our commitment to lead lives of holiness and service as they did.