Saint Martin de Tours, 316-397
Saint Martin was born in a.d. 316. He was the son of a senior member of the Roman army’s Imperial Horse Guard. He wanted to become a Christian at age 10, but his family didn’t allow it. At age 15, he joined the Roman army himself and was sent to Gaul, which is now France. He probably served in the cavalry, like his father.
One day, he saw a beggar at the gates of the city of Amiens. He cut his cloak in half and gave half to the poor man. That night, Saint Martin dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing half of his cloak. He heard Jesus say, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." Because of this dream, Martin was baptized when he was 18. He stayed in the army until he was 20 and then became a student of Hilary of Poitiers.
When Hilary was sent into exile Martin lived all alone as a hermit, but eventually, when Hilary returned, Martin helped him build the first Benedictine Abbey in Gaul. Martin traveled and preached throughout the countryside and was eventually named the Bishop of Tours. Sulpicius Severus, a man who lived at the same time, wrote Saint Martin’s life story and said that he performed many miracles.
Saint Martin worked very hard to help people understand true Christianity and not believe errors, called heresies. He died in 397 and the place where he is buried became a famous pilgrimage site. He is the patron Saint of soldiers.
Discuss: Saint Martin wanted to become a Christian at age 10. What do you remember knowing about being a Christian at age ten?
Have the young people read Matthew 25:31-44.
Discuss: What does this passage and Saint Marin's dream have in common?