Martin was born in Hungary around 315 A.D. He was the son of a pagan army officer and at 15 he was inducted into the army against his will. Once, while stationed in Amiens, he saw a poor beggar in the freezing cold wearing only skimpy and ragged clothes. Martin took pity on this man and cut his own cloak in half, giving one part to the beggar.
That night he had a vision of Christ wearing half of his cloak. He soon after became a Chrisitian and refused to fight, and was thus discharged from the army. He returned home and converted his mother and others. Martin later became a hermit and with some others established the first monastic community in Gaul.
Ten years later, in 371, Martin was named bishop of Tours. He lived privately as a monk, establishing the great monastic center of Marmoutier while zealously devoting himself to his episcopal duties. He worked ceaselessly to spread the faith and convert pagans. After establishing a religious center in Candes in Touraine, Martin died there on November 8, 397 A.D.
It is said that St. Martin experienced visions and revelations and had the ability to prophesy. He was certainly one of the great saints of Gaul and the outstanding pioneer of Western monasticism before St. Benedict. Martin’s shrine at Tours became one of the most popular pilgrim centers in Europe, and he is one of the patron saints of France.
St. Martin, pray for us that we, too, may have the compassion that you had for the poor. Pray also, St. Martin, that we be bold in defending the faith and tireless in our evangelization efforts, that many will be brought out of darkness and into the fullness of faith. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Mennas (3rd Century), Martyr