Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110
St. Martin of Tours
Feast day: November 11
Saint Martin, born in Pannonia (Hungary), followed his father, a
military tribune in the service of Rome, to Italy. Although he was
raised in paganism, he felt nothing but contempt for its cult, and as
though he were Christian by nature, he took pleasure only in the
assemblies of the faithful, which he attended despite his family’s
opposition. When he was fifteen years old, he was forcibly enrolled in
the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined
to evangelize one day. What would become of this young boy, when exposed
to the libertinage of the camps? Would his faith not be obliterated? No,
for God was watching over His vessel of election.
The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a
poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold.
Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of
the Gospel: “I was naked, and you clothed Me.” “My friend,” he said, “I
have nothing but my weapons and my garments.” And taking up his sword,
he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar. The
following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this
half-cloak and saying to His Angels: “It is Martin, still a catechumen,
who covered Me.” Soon afterwards he received Baptism.
Disinterested charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the
young soldier. He obtained his discharge at the age of about twenty.
Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home
by the Arians. He took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers.
After having given striking proofs of his attachment to the faith of
Nicea, he founded near Poitiers the celebrated monastery of Ligugé, the
first in Gaul. The brilliance of his sanctity and his miracles raised
him in 372 to the Episcopal throne of Tours, despite his lively
resistance. His life thereafter was but a continual succession of
prodigies and apostolic labors. His flock, though Christian in name, was
still pagan at heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin
destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching
and miracles the conversion of the people. His power over demons was
extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given it by Saint
After having visited and renewed his diocese, the servant of God felt
pressed to extend his journeys and labors beyond its confines. Clothed
in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only
by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the
countryside. He passed through virtually all the provinces of Gaul, and
neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped
him. Everywhere his undertakings were victorious, and he more than
earned his title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.