The Life of Saint Martin of Tours

According to some researches, St Martin was born in Hungary around 400 AD, 1,600 years ago. He was the son of a Roman officer and because of his father's military background, he was called Martin which means 'warrior'. His father's greatest wish was that his son should become a soldier like himself and he often took Martin to the army camp to show him the horses and soldiers and all their banners and swords.

Martin was a very young boy when the Emperor sent his father to Paria in Italy. Martin was playing in the street one day with his friends when a thunderstorm broke. They were very frightened and ran to the nearest house for shelter. When Martin looked around he found he was in a church. At the alter stood a bishop preaching to a group of people. The bishop saw Martin and invited him to join them and listen to the stories of Jesus and the Apostles. The bishop said to him, 'If you come in and listen to our instructions you can become a Christian yourself one day.'

Martin was very pleased to hear this and started going to church every day. With his friends he started playing games about great saints. One day they decided to go to the woods to live like hermits. They ate mushrooms and berries and roots but suddenly they were taken ill. The bishop, who was on his way to the village, heard them and ran to help. He went to the nearest house for some milk, gave it to the boys and they soon recovered. They had been saved from death by the bishop and Martin never forgot this.

When Martin was 15 his father sent him to the Emperor who made him a soldier and sent him to France. He had not finished his instructions of been baptized but he had to obey the Emperor and so he left home and the bishop.

He arrived in the town of Amiens. As he was passing through the gates he saw a beggar sitting by the side of the road. As Martin had no money he took off his cloak and, with his sword, cut it in half and covered the beggar with one half and kept the other.

That night he woke up from sleep to find his room filled with a bright light. Jesus was standing by his bed holding the half of the cloak he had given to the beggar. Jesus said he had done a great deed of love. Martin remembered Christs words, 'Whatever you do to the poorest of your brothers, you do to me.' He dressed and went to the nearest church to be baptized.

Martin stayed in the army and after two years asked the Emperor if he could leave so that he could serve God. The Emperor could not refuse and he returned home to an angry father. He left for the town of Liguge in France where he built a small monastery - the first ever built in Europe.

A few years later the Bishop of Tours died. The people wanted Martin to be the next Bishop but he wished to live in solitude. He was found hiding in a chicken house and people begged him to return. He agreed to go with them back to Tours to become Bishop as he believed it was the will of God.

When Martin became Bishop he built a monastery near Tours. They built a chapel to celebrate mass, spoke when necessary, made their own clothes and ate what they grew.

At the age of 80 Martin was still working and traveling all over France to preach the Gospel and heal the sick.  It was on one of these journeys that he fell ill and died . His body was taken back to the monastery and was buried.

Martin's successor, Bishop Britius erected a chapel over his grave. Pilgrimages grew rapidly and St Martin's grave became one of the most popular places in France. A basilica later replaced the chapel. The feast of St Martin is on the 11th November, 'Remembrance Sunday'. So, our church is named after a great saint - a place where we learn about god who we know is our true God.

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