Feast Day: November 11
This soldier saint lived in the fourth century. He joined the Roman army in Italy when he was only fifteen. Although his parents were pagans, he began to study the Christian religion. Those who study the Christian religion are called catechumens until they are baptized.
One very cold winter day, Martin and his companions came upon a beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens. The man's only clothes were nothing but rags and he was shaking with cold. The other soldiers passed by him, but Martin felt that it was up to him to help the beggar. Having nothing with him, he drew his sword and cut his long cloak in half. Some laughed at his funny appearance as he gave one half to the beggar. Others felt ashamed of their own selfishness. That night, Jesus appeared to Martin. He was wearing the half of the cloak that Martin had given away.
"Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with this garment," Jesus said. Right after this wonderful event, Saint Martin went to be baptized. A few years later, the saint left the army. He became a disciple of Saint Hilary, the bishop of Poitiers, France. Because of his strong opposition to the Arian heretics in various cities, Martin had to go into exile. But he was happy to live in the wilderness with other monks. When the people of Tours asked for him as their bishop, he refused. The people would not give up, however. They got him to come to the city to visit a sick person. Once he was there, they took him to the church. As bishop of Tours, Saint Martin did all he could to rid France of paganism. He prayed, he worked, he preached everywhere.
Our Lord let Martin know when his death was near. As soon as his followers heard of it, they began to weep. They begged him not to leave them. So the saint prayed: "Lord, if your people need me yet, I will not refuse the work. Your will be done." He was still laboring for the Divine Master in a far-off part of his diocese when death finally came in 397. Saint Martin's tomb became one of the most famous shrines in all of Europe.
It is so easy to be concerned about our own interests. But, like Martin, we want to be aware of the needs of others too. We can ask Saint Martin to share with us his generosity.
Interview with Saint Martin of Tours
JCLUB: Now, let’s see. Which Saint Martin are you?
Saint martin: I’m Martin of Tours (which is in France). Sometimes people get me mixed up with Martin de Porres, who lived a long time after me, in Peru.
JCLUB: You were a bishop, right?
Saint Martin: Yes, but that wasn’t until later in my life. When I was young, I became a soldier, as my father wanted. At that time, I was not baptized, although I had learned about Jesus and wanted to be a Christian.
JCLUB: Wow! How did you end up becoming a bishop if you weren’t even Christian?
Saint Martin: One day while going off duty, I came across a poor old man who was begging. He didn’t have a coat, and it was cold. No one was helping him. I didn’t have anything with me to give him. So I took off my cloak and cut it in half with my sword and gave him half. That night, I had a dream. Jesus appeared to me wearing that half of my cloak. After that I decided I was definitely going to become a Christian. I went to ask for Baptism.
Following in the Footsteps of Saint Martin of Tours
Saint Martin, help me see Christ in everyone I meet, especially those who are poor or suffering in any way.
Did You Know?
- Martin was born around 317 and died in 397.
- The people of Tours wanted Martin for their bishop because they knew how holy he was. He didn’t want to be the bishop, but the people tricked him into coming from his monastery into the city. Then they got him to agree to be their bishop.
- Saint Martin’s feast day is November 11.
- In Germany, his feast day is celebrated especially by children. They have a parade with lanterns at night and collect money for the poor.
Image caption: Statue of Saint Martin cutting his cloak in two above the Höchst Castle's gate
Image Credit: By Eva K. / Eva K. (Eva K. / Eva K.) [FAL, GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons