November 11, 2007

11 NOVEMBER: MARTIN OF TOURS, FIRST NON-MARTYR HONORED AS A SAINT WITH A LITURGICAL FEASTDAY

He was bishop of Tours in France, and died in 397.

His parents were pagans. He was born in the early 300’s at what is now Szombathely in Hungary.

He was forced to follow his father as a professional soldier, but was already practicing virtue, and gave half his military cloak (his only clothing) to a naked beggar at Amiens, France.

After a vision of Christ, Martin sought baptism at age 18.

He remained a soldier until 356, then traveled about, even living as a hermit.

In 360 he helped start the monastery of Ligugé near Poitiers, France— the first known monastery north of the Alps.

He grew famous as a holy man and healer, and his popularity led to his election as Bishop of Tours, France, around 371. Even as bishop he continued to live as a monk and to spread the monastic way of life. He actively spread the Gospel through the countryside, building churches in place of pagan shrines.

When St. Benedict (who died in 547) moved his monks from Subiaco to start his monastery at Monte Cassino, he built two churches there, one named for St. John the Baptist, and one for St. Martin of Tours.


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