Saint Martin of Tours
By Giovanni Depina-Alves
St Martin of Tours was born in 317 in Savaria, Pannonia. He was raised in Northern Italy by both of his parents. When he was 10 he began going to a Christian church against his parent’s wishes. Christianity had just been made a legal religion a few years before, and his parents had not exactly believed in the religion. Though he was just learning the ways of the church, and even became a candidate for baptism, he wanted to go traveling with his father to Italy with him.
He then grew up in Rome with his father. By the time he was fifteen, he was required to join the Roman Calvary. At first he was a little uneasy because he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a Roman soldier, but at the same time he was not sure what he wanted to be and joined. He was stationed in what we now know as France. During his breaks, Martin would go around and help the poor and tell as many people of Jesus Christ as he could.
One of the most famous stories of St Martin of Tours was the story with the ragged beggar. One night while riding near the city gates, he noticed a ragged beggar cold and shivering beneath a tree. No one had stopped to help him and he felt bad. So since he had nothing to give him, cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. Later that night when Martin was asleep, he had a dream and Jesus was wearing the exact piece of his cloak that he had cut.
He also heard Jesus say to the angels in his dream "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." Not too long after Martin was baptized at the age of eighteen. After his baptism his time in the Calvary only lasted two more years when the Romans would go to fight against Germany. Due to his faith, he told his superiors that he was a soldier of Christ and that he could not fight. After that he was thrown in jail and charged with cowardice as well as being discharged from the military.
When he was set free, He left to a place called tours and became the disciple of the Trinitarian Christian Hilary of Poitiers. But soon Hilary was exiled from Poitiers and Martin went on his way back to Italy, and became a hermit. In Italy he had even founded a community of monks. As soon as he was all settled he had begun to become famous around that area due to his holiness. The people in the area had begun demanding that martin was to be the bishop of tours even martin himself was against the idea.
He felt as if becoming the bishop would keep him from being united with God. So the people tricked Martin to enter the city, go to the church, and was asked once again to become the bishop. By this time he realized it must be the will of God and said yes. Even though he thought it might have, becoming the bishop didn’t change martin at all. He lived just as simple, and treated himself just the same.
One day while walking, he saw some people mistreating a man with leprosy. So he went up to the sick man, hugged him, and said, “Jesus is suffering in you my friend.” Another time he saw a group of people chained and was waiting to be beheaded the next day because they could not pay the taxes they owed to Count Avititus. Martin soon hurried to the counts palace, but the gates were locked and everyone was asleep because it was night. So he knelt and prayed to God to save the innocent from such cruel death. While asleep Count Avititus and dreamed of an angel telling Avititus to rise and that a servant of our Lord is waiting for you outside the palace.
When he exited the palace he saw Martin there at the gate and Martin told him, “Come and free the poor people you have sentenced to such a cruel death. Forgive their trespasses and God will forgive yours.” The Count gave in and set them all free. When St Martin had died all the cold and gloomy things of November had just disappeared, and for 3 days, everything was as bright and as beautiful as the summer.
Though He was human and made mistakes just as we do, St. Martin of Tours shows us a few things that we should notice. He showed us to have humility, especially to those who are poor, and weak, and cannot fend for themselves. He also showed us not to be ashamed of our religion, and even when others put us down to keep our religion and our head up high and keep moving.
If St. Martin of Tours were to come to tell us something today, I believe that he would say something along the lines of, “Do not be afraid to help others and be humble. Don’t let what others think of you influence your decisions. Finally, do you what you know is right and what God would want you to do, and don’t let the devil tell you otherwise.”