The day my mother and I were permitted to leave the Clinic, mom was ready to go home. Due to my respiratory complications, we had spent four extra days there. As we were about to drive home, my grandmother Esmeralda said: We are not going home yet, I need to go with the baby to St. Dominic’s downtown. My mother didn’t understand what my grandmother was saying. Yet grandma insisted: Please, take me to St. Dominic’s Priory; I need to fulfill my promise to St. Martin. So, instead of going home, we detoured to St. Dominic’s.
The Basilica of the Most Holy Rosary, in downtown Lima, popularly known as “St. Dominic’s Priory” (Convento Santo Domingo), is where the altar of St. Martin de Porres stands, more formally we call it the “altar of the Peruvian Saints” -all Dominicans: St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, and St. Juan Macías. This is actually the priory where St. Martin lived. It’s a place of pilgrimage and devotion for all Peruvians. Once my mother and grandmother arrived at the Basilica’s main door, my grandmother said to my mom, “give me the baby”. Once I was in my grandmother’s arms, she fell on her knees and started to move to the altar. My mother was astonished and said as my grandma kept on going, “Mom, that’s enough”. My grandmother kept replying, “I promised all the way to the altar.”
Every time I go to Lima, my mother finds the opportunity to retell this story to me when we are alone. It’s a story of faith and devotion that I will always keep in my heart. Almost thirty six years later, on the day of my First Mass in Lima, in June 2002, surrounded by many Dominican Friars who were concelebrating the Eucharist with me, I shared the story in a Basilica filled with relatives, friends, and faithful. My grandmother, Esmeralda, was there in the front pew. As I finished telling the story to the congregation, I gave her a large bouquet of red roses that I had prepared for her. Thank you, grandma!
In Christ and St. Martin,
fr. Juan, O.P.