Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

San Martín de Porres statue

Catalog Number: F002


29.0 x 10.5 x 9.5 cm


11.5 x 4.0 x 3.7 in


Religion and Denomination: Christianity
Country of Origin: China
Ethnographic Origin: Puerto Rican (Caribbean)
Materials: pigment
Usage: N/A
Detailed Description of Significance:

This statue represents the Peruvian and Dominican saint Martín de Porres. San Martín was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579 of Spanish and African ancestry. He became a lay brother in the Dominican Republic, where he spent his life in service to the poor. He was canonized in 1962, and his popularity has exploded in Latin America and the Caribbean ever since. He is the patron saint of anyone who is ill or has fallen on hard times. San Martín is typically depicted as a black man or a mulatto. His racial background also makes him the patron saint of people of mixed race.

Among practitioners of Santería and Espiritismo in Puerto Rico and the United States, San Martín de Porres is associated with Echu, or Elegguá, the oricha, or divinity, of crossroads and important decisions, who has the power to send his devotees along the correct path. The statue’s broom may suggest an ability to sweep the devotee’s path clear of obstructions.