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Saint Martin of Tours
Saint Martin of Tours

Saint Martin of Tours

Feast Day
Nov 11, 2012
Soldiers, Tailors, Poverty, Alcoholism, Beggars, Calvary, Hotel Keepers, Pontifical Swiss Guards
<p>St. Martin was born in 316, in Hungary.&nbsp; His father was a senior officer in the Roman army and was stationed in northern Italy, where Martin grew up.&nbsp; At the age of ten, he went to the Christian church against the wishes of his parents, and became a catechumen, a candidate for baptism.&nbsp; At this time, Christianity was considered a legal religion, but it was by no means the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.&nbsp; Christianity was still not accepted among the higher echelons of society or the army.&nbsp; When Martin was fifteen, he was required to join a cavalry himself, because he was the son of a veteran officer.&nbsp; He was stationed in Amiens, France. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>While Martin was still a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in France, he experienced a vision that became the most repeated story about his life.&nbsp; One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a scantily clad beggar.&nbsp; He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half, and shared it with the beggar.&nbsp; That night Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half cloak he had given away.&nbsp; He heard Jesus say to the angels, &ldquo;Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized, he has clad me&rdquo;.&nbsp; When Martin woke up, his cloak was restored. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptized at the age of 18.&nbsp; He served the military for another two years until he determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, &ldquo;I am a soldier of Christ, I cannot fight&rdquo;.&nbsp; He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops.&nbsp; His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders settled for peace, and Martin was released from his military service. &nbsp;</p> <p>Martin declared his vocation and made his way to the city of Tours, where he became a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers, a proponent of Christianity.&nbsp; When Hilary was forced into exile from Poitiers, Martin returned to Italy, converting an Alpine brigand on the way, and confronted the devil himself along the way.&nbsp; The Arian Archbishop of Milan who expelled him from the city confronted him.&nbsp; According to the early sources, he decided to seek shelter on the island called Isola d&rsquo; Albenga, in the Ligurian Sea, where he lived the solitary life of a hermit. &nbsp;</p> <p>With the return of Hilary to the see in 361, Martin joined him and established a monastery nearby, the first in France.&nbsp; It became a center for the evangelization of the country districts.&nbsp; He traveled and preached through western France.&nbsp; In 371, he was acclaimed Bishop of Tours, where he impressed the city with his demeanor, and by the enthusiasm with which he had pagan temples, altars, and sculptures destroyed.&nbsp; St. Martin was the first to introduce a rudimentary &ldquo;parish&rdquo; system.&nbsp; Martin died after a long life of service to the Church, at Candes-Saint-Martin, central France, in 397.&nbsp; To this day, many parishes are named after him, especially in the United States. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>Practical Take Away&nbsp;</strong></span></p> <p>St. Martin of Tours was born into a military family.&nbsp; He was expected to join the military at a young age, in which he did.&nbsp; He however, was drawn to Christianity, and eventually left the military and served the church as a hermit, and then went on to be the Bishop of Tours.&nbsp; His life was in service in bringing the saving grace of Christ to others, and that is what he did.&nbsp; He served a long life in the Church, and is the patron saint of many things, Soldiers being one of them.&nbsp;</p>