and beloved Western Saint, the patron of France, was born in
Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) in 316, to a pagan military
family stationed there. Soon the family returned home to
Italy, where Martin grew up.
to go to church at the age of ten, and became a catechumen.
Though he desired to become a monk, he first entered the
army in obedience to his parents.
when he was stationed in Amiens in Gaul, he met a poor man
shivering for lack of clothing. He had already given all his
money as alms, so he drew his sword, cut his soldier's cloak
in half, and gave half of it to the poor man. That night
Christ appeared to him, clothed in the half-cloak he had
given away, and said to His angels, "Martin, though still a
catechumen, has clothed me in this garment."
baptised soon afterward. Though he still desired to become a
monk, he did not obtain his discharge from the army until
many years later, in 356.
became a disciple of Saint
Hilary of Poitiers (commemorated January 13), the
"Athanasius of the West." After travelling in Pannonia and
Italy (where he converted his mother to faith in Christ), he
returned to Gaul, where the Arian heretics were gaining much
afterward became Bishop of Tours, where he shone as a
shepherd of the Church: bringing pagans to the faith,
healing the sick, establishing monastic life throughout Gaul,
and battling the Arian heresy so widespread throughout the
the episcopal residence too grand, he lived in a rude,
isolated wooden hut, even while fulfilling all the duties of
a Bishop of the Church.
severity against heresy was always accompanied by love and
kindness toward all: he once traveled to plead with the
Emperor Maximus to preserve the lives of some Priscillianist
heretics whom the Emperor meant to execute.
holy Bishop lay dying in 397, the devil appeared to tempt
him one last time. The Saint said, "You will find nothing in
me that belongs to you. Abraham's bosom is about to receive
me." With these words he gave up his soul to God.
He is the
first confessor who was not a martyr to be named a Saint in
the West. His biographer, Sulpitius Severus, wrote of him: "Martin
never let an hour or a moment go by without giving himself
to prayer or to reading and, even as he read or was
otherwise occupied, he never ceased from prayer to God. He
was never seen out of temper or disturbed, distressed or
laughing. Always one and the same, his face invariably
shining with heavenly joy, he seemed to have surpassed human
nature. In his mouth was nothing but the Name of Christ and
in his soul nothing but love, peace and mercy."
Martin is commemorated on this day (Nov.12th) in the Greek
and Slavic Synaxaria; his commemoration in the West, where
he is especially honored, is on November 11.