This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11 -- St. Martin of Tours

I find it impossible to ignore the fact that November 11 is Armistice Day, or Veterans Day in the USA. In 1918, the order went forward that at 11:00 AM (Paris time) on November 11, the guns would be stilled and the war that had been more deadly and destructive than any other in Europe or America would end.

St. Martin of Tours had a long, checkered career as a leader in the Church. He was an undiplomatic defender of orthodox views at a time when the Arians held sway, so he spent many years in exile. But rather than discussing those struggles, I want to focus on an event early in his career, when he was still a cavalry officer in the Roman army.

Upon seeing a beggar, Martin dismounted, cut his heavy cloak in half, and gave it to the poor wretch. That night, he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak, saying "Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his garment." Martin promptly requested baptism.

His unit was poised to go into battle, but Martin declared that as a Christian, he could no longer fight. The Roman Army was notoriously unkind to conscientious objectors, but instead of accusing him of being a Christian, they jailed him for cowardice. They planned to pitch him into the front lines when the battle began, but the opposing army suddenly withdrew and the battle was averted. Luckily (by Providence?) Martin was released from military service and entered active service within the Church.

Apparently, the Church had a practice (if not policy) of discrimination against former soldiers, so Martin was ordained as an exorcist instead of a deacon (a more prominent and influential position). It hardly mattered; his influence on the growth of the Church was significant.

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