November 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 4

Saint of the Month

St. Martin of Tours - November 11

St. Martin of Tours

Born around 336, Martin was the son of a Roman soldier who eventually became a high-ranking military officer. Growing up in Italy, Martin, who was a peace-loving lad and attracted to Christianity, was required to enter the army at age 15. Martin's parents were pagans, and his father was particularly opposed to Christianity. So against his father's wishes, Martin prepared to become a Christian, living as simply as he could and giving most of what he had to the poor.

Even though soldiers of his rank often had several servants, Martin insisted on having only one and treated the man as an equal. Martin shared his meals with him and regarded him as a friend, which was highly irregular in a time when society was very strictly divided by class and rank.

One bitterly cold day, as Martin's unit marched through Amiens in Gaul, he spotted a half-dressed beggar, shivering near the city's gate. Martin had already given away what he had, but when everyone else ignored the man, Martin took off his cloak, split it in half with his sword and gave half of it to him. The next night, Martin dreamed of Jesus, dressed in the half cloak, and heard Him proclaim that Martin had clothed Him in it. Martin's commitment to Christ deepened even more, and he was immediately baptized.

Upon his discharge, Martin lived as a hermit. As word of his holiness spread, he attracted many followers, eventually founding the first monastery in Gaul. Martin then became Bishop of Tours, and for the next 25 years, he missioned throughout Gaul, especially to those who lived in isolated areas. Martin died in 397, and to this day he is known as Martin the merciful.

Father, by his life and death,
Martin of Tours offered you worship and praise.
Renew in our hearts
the power of our love,
so that neither life nor death
may separate us from you.
Help us to follow your will in all that we do.
As St. Martin gave himself completely to your service,
may we rejoice and belong to you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives