Heritage 37a St Martin Of Tours

No 37 a                             St Martin of Tours


St Martin, c.316-397, Bishop Of Tours, missionary to Gaul, and one of the fathers of western monasticism, probably came from Pannonia (Hungary) and was the son of a soldier. Martin joined the Roman Army but converted to Christianity and became convinced that a soldier of Christ ought not to bear arms against Christians.

About 360, Martin joined Saint Hilary of Poitiers and founded the monastery of Liguge, the first in Gaul. In 371, despite his objections, he was acclaimed Bishop of Tours. He founded there the monastery of Marmoutiers, where he resided and which became the training centre for missions to the Celts.

Although he was a staunchly orthodox Christian, Martin withheld communion from the bishops who condoned the slaughter of the Priscillian heretics and he attempted reconciliation with the latter. His efforts led some to suspect him of heresy.

The legend most closely associated with Martin is that describing his meeting with the poor beggar in a cold Winter. Martin stun catechumen, cut his cloak in half, in order to clothe the nearly naked man. In a dream that night Christ, dressed in half of St Martin’s cloak, commended his soldier’s generous charity. Saint Martin, patron saint of France, has November 11th as his feast day.