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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

October 24 -- Feast of Saint Martin of Vertou

How about a little Old Testament action in the early Middle Ages? 

Saint Martin of Vertou was a sixth century aristocrat, pious from childhood, who felt a vocation from God.  He was ordained a deacon by Saint Felix, Bishop of Nantes, and sent to evangelize the area south of the Loire.  He went to a coastal city called Herbauges, a thriving port city that venerated its multiple deities and idols.  He preached with very little success, having persuaded only a man named Roman, Roman's wife, and their son Pierre to accept baptism.  Martin warned them to leave this iniquitous city, which was wise since the Wrath of the Lord fell upon it.  Flood waters rose and washed away all traces of the place -- nothing left for archeologists even to verify its existence.

Yeah, so Martin wasn't a very effective preacher.  He went on a long pilgrimage, hitting all the shrines, and eventually wound up back in Gaul (France).  This time he figured he'd camp out on his own, like a desert hermit, living on the meager vegetable diet that he grew in his own garden.  That sort of holiness attracts followers, so within a few years, the preacher who could get no one to follow him had three hundred disciples.  He founded monasteries throughout the region, and thus became a successful evangelist in spite of his poor preaching.

Vertou was the center of Martin's religious colony.  Legend has it that he stuck his staff in the ground in the center of present-day Vertou and it sprouted.  This is not an uncommon theme with saints, but in Martin's case, the yew tree that grew from his staff became the central image on the regional coat of arms.

No comments:

Post a Comment