Sundays are not
days on which the Church observes the liturgical memorial of saints. It happens
periodically, but today’s feast of Saint Martin of Tours (AD 316-397) is not
one them, at least not in the USA. Perhaps in Tours where the saint lived there
is a festive celebration of Martin, I am uncertain of such. But that today is
Veterans’ Day here and that the liturgical calendar recalls Martin, it seems
silly not to think of this most famous saint as we pray for Veterans.
The Church prays,
O God, who are glorified in the Bishop Saint Martin both by his life and death, make new, we pray, the wonders of your grace in our hearts, that neither death nor life may separate us from your love.
was widely honored for his holiness and witness to Jesus Christ; through his
intercession God performed many miracles and many came to Christian faith. It
is said that saints beget saints. Martin was a disciple of the famed Saint Hilary of Poitiers
and Saint Lidorius desired that Martin succeed him as bishop of Tours and his
successors were Saint Britius and Saint Perpetuus; and Saint Benedict had a significant
devotion to Martin.
One of the famous stories of Martin is the one of the
cloak. As the narrative goes, Martin was approaching Amiens meeting a
poorly attired beggar who was obviously in need: cold, hungry and homeless. That he was a virtuous man, Martin cut his cloak in half and
gave half to the beggar. That night, in a dream, Jesus appeared to Martin wearing the cloak given to the
“beggar.” As Martin recounted, he heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is
Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized [a catechumen] and has clad me” (Sulpicius
Severus, ch 2). One version of the story tells of the cloak being restored in
full to Martin.
A friend of Saint Martin, Sulpicius Severus wrote in his Vita of Martin that,
The body being laid out in public was being honored by the last sad offices on the part of the mourning brethren, when Martin hurries up to them with tears and lamentations. But then laying hold; as it were, of the Holy Spirit, with the whole powers of his mind, he orders the others to quit the cell in which the body was lying; and bolting the door, he stretches himself at full length on the dead limbs of the departed brother. Having given himself for some time to earnest prayer, and perceiving by means of the Spirit of God that power was present, he then rose up for a little, and gazing on the countenance of the deceased, he waited without misgiving for the result of his prayer and of the mercy of the Lord. And scarcely had the space of two hours elapsed, when he saw the dead man begin to move a little in all his members, and to tremble with his eyes opened for the practice of sight. Then indeed, turning to the Lord with a loud voice and giving thanks, he filled the cell with his ejaculations.
Saint Martin is not only the patron saint for the military but he’s also asked to intercede for those battling alcoholism.