While saints are sometimes canonized shortly after their deaths, it took more than 300 years to canonize St. Martin de Porres, who died in 1639.
The humble Dominican saint was canonized by St. John XXIII on May 6, 1962, only a few short months before the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
This was a deliberate choice made by St. John XXIII, who opened his homily with a direct reference to the Council that was about to begin, “Our heart and that of all those who profess the faith of Christ, are looking forward to the important event that is the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council; in which there is placed the hope of a rejuvenation with greater vigor of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.”
St. John XXIII then proceeded to extol the many virtues of St. Martin de Porres, returning again to why he chose to canonize him before Vatican II began.
“Venerable brothers and dear children. As we have already stated at the beginning of our homily, we consider it very opportune that this year in which the Council is to be held, Martin de Porres is listed among the saints. For the path of holiness that he followed and the splendors of illustrious virtue with which his life shone, can be seen as the healthy fruits that we wish the Catholic Church and all men as a result of the Ecumenical Council.”
St. John XXIII saw the example of St. Martin de Porres to be a unique example of how to live a life of holiness in the modern world.
Furthermore, St. Martin de Porres was held up as an example of someone who embodied what St. John XXIII hoped Vatican II would generate.
If we want to live according to the true spirit of Vatican II, we must all look to St. Martin de Porres for inspiration.