Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For All the Saints: Martin of Tours

I looked at my sites of church liturgical calendars and realized St. Martin of Tours is on all four lists, although Orthodox Christians honor him on the 12th rather than the 11th of November. Born about 315, he was first a Roman soldier but even in the military he tried to live the life of a Christian monk, even using his sword to cut his clothes in half to help a beggar stay warm in winter. Many artistic renderings of Martin, like this painting by El Greco, focus upon this story.

This site provides many other stories about his piety and service. Eventually he became Bishop of Tours, and his shrine became a stop for pilgrims. He died in about 397 (unlike many other early Christians regarded as saints, he was not a martyr), and he is remembered for his constant devotion, asceticism, and concern for the poor. Although he is associated with France---when the 1918 armistice was signed on St. Martin's day, some French saw the coincidence as providential---he is a popular saint across Europe and elsewhere in the world.

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