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St. martin
of tours

Born: 316
Died: Nov. 8th, 397
FEast: Nov. 11th
Patron of:  poverty, France, geese, horses, innkeepers, tailors, vineyards




 Martin was born in what is now Hungary, but was raised in Italy when his father, a high-ranking soldier in the Roman army, retired and was given land there. Because of this, Martin was also going to be forced to enter the army, he knew. From the age of 10, though, he professed to his parents that he wanted to be a Christian. Though Christianity was legalized only a few years before, it still was not widely accepted and only had several members along trade routes and in large cities, and so his parents begged him to reconsider.

Martin nevertheless joined the army when he was 15, serving in France and Italy, possibly in a unit that served as bodyguards to the Emperor himself. It was while in the army that he encountered a starved, freezing man begging on the street, and Martin famously cut his own cloak to clothe him. He dreamed that night of it having been Jesus himself he had clothed, and in the morning, he found the full cloak restored. This experience moved him so much that he then finalized his process for Baptism. He was baptized at the age of 18, and from there it is uncertain as to how much longer his military career lasted. Some say he only was part of the army for another 2 years, refusing to fight because of his faith, and some think he stayed until the age of 45, which would be the usual end of a military career then. Regardless, while still in the army, it was said that he lived “more like a monk than a soldier”. It was at the end of his career that Martin stated that he would no longer fight or listen to any person other than Jesus.


He refused a war bonus and refused to fight in the next battle. For these actions he was imprisoned, but Martin said in retaliation that he’d go to the front lines unarmed. The battle never happened, however, and he was released and discharged from the army.

Martin’s next move was to become a student of Bishop Hilary of Poitiers in France. He became an exorcist and a missionary, even converting his mother to Christianity, and speaking out against the heresy of Arianism with much conviction. He walked the countryside and preached, living for a time on an island where he ate only wild herbs that grew. There are legends about him converting highway robbers and confronting the devil himself while on these journeys, until he settled down and founded what was likely the first monastic community in France.

When the city of Tours needed a Bishop, Martin refused. The people wanted him in the position, however, so they called him to administer to a sick person, and he went immediately. When he found it was a trick, he tried to hide in a barn full of geese! He was discovered by their loud commotion, and made to be the bishop anyway - though some protested that he looked too unkempt to hold that position!

Martin filled the role well despite his initial refusal, establishing a parish system to manage his diocese and visiting each one frequently, and establishing a new monastery in Marmoutier. He made it his mission also to free prisoners, and to stand in the way of a heretical bishop’s execution. Because of his involvement, Martin himself was accused of the same heresy, even though he opposed it, and lost favor with many leaders. He continued to oppose government involvement in Church affairs until he passed away in 397. He had so many dedicated followers at the time of his death that they argued over where he was to be buried.



Help us to accept the life given to us when it is something we cannot change. show us what good might come of it, and where we can use our gifts to better it. Remind us to give what we can, no matter how small, and show us the strength we need to start all over again. Amen.

Art Reflection


Riding a motorcycle rather than a horse, which would stand out quite a bit on today’s streets, Martin still offers half of his cloak to a man out of the image. Though its a puffer coat rather than a cape, he also has an image of a goose on his sweatshirt in reference to his hiding place and patronage.


Dress for success

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