It was certainly the year when we became aware of the campaign for Black Lives Matter, which had such a meaningful impact all over the globe. A cruel killing of a black man in Minnesota sparked demonstrations in places that had no connection with the American Midwest: sportsmen in many countries felt moved to "take a knee" in solidarity.
And perhaps the BLM movement prompted the English writer and presenter of the BBC's Great Lives series, Matthew Parris, to include St Martin de Porres in a collection about legendary individuals whose lives have significance for people today, whether religious or not.
Martin de Porres, usually portrayed as a black man in images, is now seen as a highly contemporary figure. He is the saint of interracial harmony and justice.
Many Irish "Martins" - and "Martinas" - are called after this Dominican lay brother from Peru who died in 1639. The statuette of Blessed Martin - he was a "Blessed" for a long time - adorned the mission boxes which were such a part of Irish life and are still occasionally seen. (They were often in pharmacies, since Martin is associated with healing.)
If you dropped a coin into the slot, Blessed Martin would nod in thanks for your contribution. These mission boxes were originally to support "the black babies" of Africa, a concept that might seem patronising today.
But they did contribute to Irish educational missions and the Dominicans were good about opposing apartheid in South Africa. They managed to teach children of all races together, despite the regime's regulations.
The images of Martin de Porres were probably the first popular religious representations of people of colour. Not many Africans might have been seen in rural Ireland, but Blessed Martin was.
Juan Martin de Porres Velazquez was born out of wedlock to a Spanish nobleman father and a Panamanian mother, a former slave of mixed African-Indian heritage. He grew up in poverty and entered the Dominican Order, first as a servant and then, in 1603, becoming a lay brother.
This was a humble position within the monastery, but Martin must have been one of the most useful members of the community, since he became the barber, the surgeon, the almoner, the farm labourer and the infirmarian.
He dedicated his life to the service of others and was "devoted to the sick and the beggars who thronged the friary gates".
He opened a hospital for children in Lima. Unusually for that rough period of conquest of the Americas, he was also caring towards animals and initiated a refuge for "the little creatures of God".
He was an egalitarian in an age of hierarchies: he made no distinction between race or birth; his life inspired the American jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams to compose songs in his honour, calling him "the Black Christ of the Andes".
As a sideline, Martin was said to be something of a marriage counsellor and helped his sister with her marital difficulties. His reputation for spirituality and wisdom grew to the extent that "persons of consequence" came to consult this simple lay brother. During his lifetime many miracles were ascribed to him - notably for healing and consolation - and when he died, all of Lima, and Peru, acclaimed his holiness.
It took decades, centuries and many letters to the Vatican to advance Martin's cause. His canonisation was met with setbacks and delays, and it's possible that, as a man of mixed race, even in the realms of sainthood, he was a victim of "white privilege".
But so many people attested their devotion to Martin de Porres, and the miracles and cures they believed he had brought about, that he was beatified in 1837.
And so it was that for a long time in Ireland, he was known as Blessed Martin, his statuette presiding over the box into which we dropped our sixpences. Finally, he was canonised as a full saint by Pope John XXIII in 1962, at a time when the Church began to realise its responsibility to people of colour.
Perhaps Irish people identified with Martin de Porres's backstory of poverty and marginalisation: there were certainly many prayer cards to Blessed Martin and he has always had a genuine devotional following in Ireland.
Currently, there are over 200 popular holy pictures of St Martin, as well as mosaics, icons and stained-glass window art. He is often portrayed with a dog and a cat, or with a broom - for his domestic work - as well as a rosary and a crucifix.
He is a symbol of a man of colour who bore the stigma - as it then was - of illegitimate birth and penury.
As Matthew Parris notes, "his early life faced prejudice, struggle and suffering". He endured bullying and mockery. In these days of concern about racism, he is surely relevant.
St Martin is on trend in another way, too: he was a vegetarian. And those in the hospitality trade wrestling with the fallout from Covid restrictions might like to note that he's also the patron saint of innkeepers.
Truly, a saint for our time.