Saint Martin of Tours

12
1245

A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr.

Born of pagan parents in what is now Hungary and raised in Italy, this son of a veteran was forced to serve in the army against his will at the age of 15. He became a Christian catechumen and was baptized at 18. It was said that he lived more like a monk than a soldier. At 23, he refused a war bonus and told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” After great difficulties, he was discharged and went to be a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers (January 13).

On a bitterly cold day, a famous legend goes, Martin met a poor man, almost naked, trembling in the cold and begging from passersby at the city gate. Martin had nothing but his weapons and his clothes. He drew his sword, cut his cloak into two pieces, gave one to the beggar and wrapped himself in the other half. Some of the bystanders laughed at his now odd apearance; others were ashamed at not having relieved the man’s misery. That night in his sleep Martin saw Christ dressed in the half of the garment he had given away, and heard him say, “Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with is garment.”

He was ordained an exorcist and worked with great zeal against the Arians. He became a monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island. When Hilary was restored to his see after exile, Martin returned to France and established what may have been the first French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside.

The people of Tours demanded that he become their bishop. He was drawn to that city by a ruse—the need of a sick person—and was brought to the church, where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated bishop. Some of the consecrating bishops thought his rumpled appearance and unkempt hair indicated that he was not dignified enough for the office.

Along with St. Ambrose (December 7), Martin rejected Bishop Ithacius’s principle of putting heretics to death—as well as the intrusion of the emperor into such matters. He prevailed upon the emperor to spare the life of the heretic Priscillian. For his efforts, Martin was accused of the same heresy, and Priscillian was executed after all. Martin then pleaded for a cessation of the persecution of Priscillian’s followers in Spain. He still felt he could cooperate with Ithacius in other areas, but afterwards his conscience troubled him about this decision.

As death approached, his followers begged him not to leave them. He prayed, “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.”

Comments

12 COMMENTS

  1. When was he born then died? What are the dates of all his accomplishments? His life was exemplary but we need dates to properly appreciate his place in history. Thank you

  2. St. Martin of Tours pray for us! pray for Christs’ Church on earth. That we may all be one as God in one. Pray for our Bishops, catechumens and catechists. may the holy Spirit enlighten them, May the Lord be with them and all of us always, may they never feel abandoned. may our Mother Mary wrap us in her loving mantle and bring us ever closer to Christ and His most Sacred Heart. Amen.

  3. Please help me San Martín to meet the way and jobs to find the charity and solve my problems which you know I have and make me walk secure in my life please tell my God thank you for this affirmative response. I love you.

  4. PLEASE HELP ST MARTIN OF TOURS. AS MY FAMILY IWS IN TROUBLE OVER MY ISSUES OF HELPING SOMEON FINANCIALLY TO SURVIVE. AND MY SISTER SAYS I MADE UNWISE DECUINS, PLEAS ALSO GET EVIL SPIRITS FROM MY HOUSE. AND HELP MY SISTER AND I RESOLVE ON MY TRIP SOON TO VISIT . WE ARE ALL THE FAMILY WE GOT. BLESS JOHN REED AND LKARRY FAUST AS DECEASED TOO.

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