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Saint Martin of Tours

  • November 11
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Saint Martin of Tours

Image:  Statue of Saint Martin of Tours on the dome of the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours | photo by ZohaStel

Saint of the day for november 11, (c. 316 – november 8, 397).

Saint Martin of Tours’ Story

A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr.

Born of pagan parents in what is now Hungary, and raised in Italy, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. Martin became a Christian catechumen and was baptized when he was 18. It was said that he lived more like a monk than a soldier. At 23, he refused a war bonus and told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” After great difficulties, he was discharged and went to be a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers.

He was ordained an exorcist and worked with great zeal against the Arians. Martin became a monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island. When Hilary was restored to his see following his exile, Martin returned to France and established what may have been the first French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside.

The people of Tours demanded that he become their bishop. Martin was drawn to that city by a ruse—the need of a sick person—and was brought to the church, where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated bishop. Some of the consecrating bishops thought his rumpled appearance and unkempt hair indicated that he was not dignified enough for the office.

Along with Saint Ambrose, Martin rejected Bishop Ithacius’s principle of putting heretics to death—as well as the intrusion of the emperor into such matters. He prevailed upon the emperor to spare the life of the heretic Priscillian. For his efforts, Martin was accused of the same heresy, and Priscillian was executed after all. Martin then pleaded for a cessation of the persecution of Priscillian’s followers in Spain. He still felt he could cooperate with Ithacius in other areas, but afterwards his conscience troubled him about this decision.

As death approached, Martin’s followers begged him not to leave them. He prayed, “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.”

Martin’s worry about cooperation with evil reminds us that almost nothing is either all black or all white. The saints are not creatures of another world: They face the same perplexing decisions that we do. Any decision of conscience always involves some risk. If we choose to go north, we may never know what would have happened had we gone east, west, or south. A hyper-cautious withdrawal from all perplexing situations is not the virtue of prudence; it is in fact, a bad decision, for “not to decide is to decide.”

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Saint Martin of Tours

saint martin of tours bishop

November 11: Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop—Memorial

316 or 336–397 Patron Saint of beggars, cavalry, equestrians, geese, horses, innkeepers, Pontifical Swiss Guards, quartermasters, reformed alcoholics, soldiers, tailors, and winemakers Invoked against alcoholism and poverty Pre-Congregation canonization Liturgical Color: White

Accordingly, at a certain period, when he had nothing except his arms and his simple military dress, in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity, was, in that respect, left to him. Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. ~From the Life of Saint Martin, by Sulpicius Severus

Saint Martin of Tours has been one of the most revered and loved saints in European history for two primary reasons: he lived a life of heroic sanctity, and someone wrote it all down. Sulpicius Severus is believed to have been a wealthy man who converted to Christianity through the ministry of Bishop Martin. He then became a priest, interviewed Bishop Martin before he died, and wrote a book about Martin’s incredible life. The book was copied over and over again and became one of the standard texts for religious and laity alike for many centuries. Numerous churches and monasteries bear Martin’s name as a result of his popularity.

Martin was born in Sabaria in Pannonia, within the Roman Empire, modern-day Szombathely, Hungary. Some early records state he was born in 316, others in 336. When Martin was young, his family moved to Ticinum, modern-day Pavia, northern Italy. He was born in the Roman Empire during an important period of change. In 313, Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity. Constantine then became a Christian himself, and it became known that he favored Christians over those who remained pagans. As a result, many people began converting, some for political and economic reasons.

Martin’s father was a soldier who advanced to the rank of military tribune. As a child, Martin became interested in Christianity, but his parents clung to Roman paganism, dismissing the newly legalized Christianity. Martin, however, was not satisfied with his parents’ choice. So, at the age of ten, he went to the local Catholic Church and asked to become a Christian. He was enrolled as a catechumen and began the lengthy process of preparing for Baptism, which would not take place until ten years later. When he was twelve years old, he asked his parents to permit him to become a hermit, but they refused. At the age of fifteen, in compliance with a state law requiring sons of military officers to enlist in the Roman military, Martin became a soldier. Despite being surrounded by many who lived immoral lives, Martin remained true to his faith and lived quite virtuously. His language was always respectful, he treated others with exceptional kindness, he often gave most of his money and belongings to the poor, he humbled himself by serving those who were supposed to serve him, and he continued his preparation for Baptism.

One day, while riding his horse through a town in the middle of winter, Martin came upon a poor man who was poorly dressed and shivering. The man begged people for help, but they ignored him. Martin knew he had to assist, but he had already given his money and other clothing away to the needy. All he had left was the military cloak he wore on his own back, so he dismounted his horse, took out his sword, cut the cloak in two, and gave half to the poor man. His fellow soldiers later laughed at his small funny-looking cloak. That night, Martin had a dream in which Jesus appeared to him wearing the half-cloak and said to a multitude of angels who surrounded them, “Martin, still only a catechumen, has clothed me.” When he awoke, he knew what he needed to do. He sought baptism, which he received at the age of twenty.

Martin remained in the military for two more years at the request of a friend. One day, the commanding officer was passing out bonuses to the soldiers as they prepared for battle the next day. When Martin was called forward, he stated, “I have been your soldier until now. Let me serve God henceforth. Give your bonus to someone who’ll fight for you. I am Christ’s soldier, and it’s not right for me to engage in battle.” Martin was accused of being a coward because they were going into battle the following day. To that accusation he replied, “If you believe I’m acting out of fear, I’ll stand unarmed in front of the enemy lines tomorrow. Shielded only by my faith in Jesus and the sign of the cross, I’ll face them without armor.” Martin was then thrown into prison to wait for the battle, which never happened because the opposing side sought peace. Martin was soon after released from the military.

Having heard of the renowned bishop and future Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Martin traveled to Poitiers in present-day France and stayed with the bishop for some time, learning from him the orthodox faith. He was also ordained a deacon and made an exorcist by Bishop Hilary. After Bishop Hilary was forced into exile for combating Arianism in the imperial court, and after Deacon Martin had a dream about converting his pagan parents, he decided to return to his hometown. On the way, he was attacked by robbers, but upon being asked who he was, he told one of the robbers that he was a Christian. Deacon Martin then shared the Gospel with the man, who repented, let Martin go, and later converted. When Deacon Martin arrived home, he converted his mother to the Christian faith but could not move his father. Others in his hometown also converted.

After encountering the wrath of some Arian priests whom he opposed, and even the Arian Archbishop of Milan, Deacon Martin and a priest spent time living as hermits on the Island of Gallinara. There they lived on herbs and wild roots. One day Martin ate a poisonous root by mistake, but through fervent prayer, God healed him.

Upon hearing that Bishop Hilary’s exile from Poitiers had ended, Deacon Martin moved to a town near the holy bishop and established a monastery. From there, he began preaching throughout the region and performing many miracles. He restored an unbaptized catechumen to life. When the catechumen returned to life, he stated that it was due to Martin’s prayers. On another occasion, Martin brought a slave back to life who had hung himself. 

In 371, Martin was chosen by the consent of the people as the Bishop of Tours. Though he initially opposed it and tried to hide, he was tricked and led to the cathedral where his ordination awaited. Once ordained the Bishop of Tours, Bishop Martin moved outside the city and established hermitages with other clerics where he led a life of prayer. For the next twenty-six years, he lived both an eremitical life and also engaged in an active ministry. He traveled throughout Gaul (France), preaching, converting many, performing miracles, and casting out demons. He opposed heresies, worked with other orthodox bishops—such as the future Saint Ambrose of Milan—destroyed pagan temples, and gained the respect of all. His opponents feared him, and his supporters praised God every time they witnessed his ministry in action.

Though Saint Martin of Tours lived a life of heroic virtue and deep prayer, his life and veneration reveal the importance of sharing the stories of the saints with others. After his death, his life has continued to inspire many. As we honor Saint Martin, ponder any ways that God might want to use you as He used Sulpicius Severus, Saint Martin’s biographer. Though you might not be called to write a book about a saint you know, consider ways in which you can share the Gospel by learning more about the saints and sharing their stories with others.

Saint Martin of Tours, though you were born into a pagan family, God spoke to your heart from an early age, and you listened and responded. Your kindness, deep prayer, and generosity led to your ongoing conversion, making you an inspiration to all. Please pray for me, that I will always listen to God’s voice and respond with all my heart. Saint Martin of Tours, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

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St. Martin of Tours

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Saint Martin of Tours was born in in Savaria, Pannonia in either the year 316 or 336 AD. That region is what is today the nation of Hungary. His father was a tribune, which is a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard. Martin and his family went with his father when he was assigned to a post at Ticinum, in Northern Italy. It is here that Martin would grow up.

Just before Martin was born, Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire and the bloody persecution of Christians soon came to an end. It was not the official religion of the State, but it could be practiced and proclaimed openly. The Gospel message soon flourished in ancient Rome, transforming the empire. Martin's parents were pagans, but at the age of 10, Martin chose to respond to the call of the Gospel and become a Christian.

At the age of fifteen, Martin was required to follow his father into the cavalry corps of the Roman military. By the time he was 18, Martin is believed to have served in Gaul, and also eventually Milan and Treves. Scholars think he served as part of the emperor's guard.

As a young soldier, Martin encountered a beggar in Amiens. The beggar was unclothed and it was very cold. Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, he cut it in half. He gave this half to the beggar and dressed himself in the remnant. That night, Martin had a vision in which Christ appeared to him. The vision spoke to him, "Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me." A catechumen is one who is being instructed in the Christian faith. In the early centuries of Christianity, that was a long process of instruction - and Martin was deeply dedicated to it.

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About the age of 20, Martin made clear to his superiors that he would no longer fight, following his formed Christian conscience. He refused his pay prior to a battle and announced he would not join in the combat. He became the first recognized conscientious objector in recorded history. His proclamation occurred before a battle near the modern German city of Worms. His superiors accused him of cowardice and ordered that he be imprisoned. Martin offered to demonstrate his sincerity by going into battle unarmed. This was seen as an acceptable alternative to jailing him, but before the battle could occur, the opposing army agreed to a truce and no conflict took place. Martin was subsequently released from military service.

Now out of the military service, Martin could fully dedicate himself to service of Jesus Christ and the Church. He traveled to Tours where he began studying under Hilary of Poitiers, who is now recognized as a doctor of the Church. Martin's studies lasted until Hilary was forced into temporary exile, likely because of his refusal to participate in a political dispute.

Martin then traveled to Italy. According to one account, Martin was confronted by a highwayman and led him to faith in Jesus Christ. Another account tells of Martin confronting the Devil. While on this journey, Martin had a vision which compelled him to return to his mother in Pannonia. He did so and led his own mother to faith in Jesus Christ. Martin attempted to persuade his father to embrace faith in Jesus Christ, but as far as we know, his father refused.

After bringing his mother to the Church, Martin then turned to confronting a growing heresy which was afflicting the faithful and sowing confusion. He became involved in countering the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. The reaction against him was so violent from the Arian leaders that he was compelled to flee. Martin took up residence on an island in the Adriatic where he lived as a hermit for a time.

Martin's teacher Hilary returned to Tours from temporary exile in 361 so Martin traveled there to work and study. Hilary gave Martin a small grant of land where he and his disciples lived.

Martin established a monastery which would be inhabited by the Benedictines. Established in 361, the Liguge Abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, then reestablished in 1853. The abbey remains to this day. From the site of his abbey, Martin worked to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism into His Church in the surrounding areas. He was an extraordinary evangelist.

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In 371, the city of Tours needed a new bishop and the people decided to call Martin to the office. Martin did not want the job so the people decided to trick him into the office. The people insisted he was needed to administer to someone sick, so he came out as quickly as he could. He did not even bother to improve his appearance. When he learned it was a trick to make him a bishop, Martin actually tried to hide. He was quickly discovered and the people called him forward to be ordained to the office of Bishop. Even though he did not really want the office, he was ordained - and he became a holy and hardworking Bishop.

As a Bishop Martin established a system of parishes to manage his diocese. He made a point to visit each parish at least once per year. In addition to his appointed rounds, Martin combated paganism, particularly the Druid religion which was still prevalent at the time. He passionately and faithfully proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ and won many to the Christian faith.

Yet, he longed for more prayer and wanted to pursue a monastic life. In the year 372 Martin established an abbey at Marmoutier so he could retreat there and live as a monk with the many disciples he had attracted.

In the following years, a heresy broke out in the church. An aesthetic sect called the Priscillianists after their leader, Priscillian, had developed in Spain and Gaul. The First Council of Saragossa condemned the heresy, but the Priscillians did not change they practices. This prompted one bishop, Ithacius of Ossonoba to petition the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus to put him to death. Martin was opposed to the sentence of death, and was joined by Bishop Ambrose of Milan in his opposition. Martin traveled to Trier where the Emperor held court. Martin was able to persuade the Emperor to refrain from putting Priscillian and his followers to death. However, after Martin left, Ithacius persuaded the Emperor to change his mind again and Priscillian and his followers were executed in 385.

Martin was so upset by Ithacius, he refused to communicate with his fellow bishop until the Emperor pressured him to resume communicating with his colleague.

Martin died in Candes-Saint-Martin, Gaul in 397.

The Hagiographer Sulpicius Severus, knew Martin personally and wrote about his life. Many miracles and the casting out of demons were attributed to Martin during his lifetime. According to one account, Martin, while trying to win Druids to follow Jesus Christ and renounce their pagan beliefs, was dared to stand in the path of a sacred tree that was being felled. Martin agreed and was missed by the falling pine, although standing right in its path. This was widely seen as miraculous and a symbol that the message he proclaimed about Jesus Christ was true. Many were converted to the Christian faith.

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Veneration of St. Martin became popular in the Middle Ages, and was popular with the Frankish kings.

Saint Martin is the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers. Many locations across Europe have also been placed under his patronage. His feast is on November 11. He commonly appears on horseback and is shown cutting his cloak in half with a sword.

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St. Martin, Bishop of Tours

There are few people whose life story can be summed up in a single indelible act. Saint Martin belongs in this special category. The story of Martin giving up half of his cloak is emblematic of his life. Martin was born around the year 316, in Pannonia, now Hungary, on the peripheries of the late Roman Empire. The son of a military tribune, he grew up in Pavia, Italy, after his father was given land in that city. Although his parents were pagan, Martin was interested in Christianity, and already at age twelve showed an interest in becoming an ascetic and retiring to the desert. But an imperial edict arrived, commanding him to take up the sword and putting an end, so it seemed, to his dream of a life of solitude and prayer. Forced to enlist, Martin became a soldier and was stationed in the territory of Gaul.

Giving half to Christ

Sometime around the year 335, Martin, now an Imperial guard, was making his rounds on horseback, when he came across a half-naked beggar. Taking compassion on the poor man, Martin took his military cloak, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar. The following night, Jesus Himself appeared to Martin in a dream, wearing the cloak. Addressing the angels who accompanied him, the Lord said, “Behold, here is Martin, an unbaptized Roman soldier: He has clothed me.” The dream left a grave impression on the young soldier, and Martin was baptised the following Easter. He continued to serve in the army for twenty more years, in an environment totally removed from his youthful dreams.

From monk to bishop

As soon as possible, Martin left the army, and travelled to Poitiers to meet Hilary, the bishop, who was a firm adversary of the Arian heresy. On account of his strong stance, Hilary was exiled by the emperor Constantius II (who supported the Arians). Upon hearing the news of Hilary’s exile, Martin, who in the meantime had gone to visit his family in Pannonia, retired to a hermitage near Milan. When Hilary returned from exile, Martin went to France to find him and obtained the bishop’s permission to found a monastery near the city of Tours. Having erected small huts for himself and his companions, Martin, the former soldier who had clothed the poor Christ, himself became poor, as he had always desired. Dedicated to prayer and the preaching of the Gospel, Martin travelled through France, where many came to know him. His popularity led the people to choose him to be Bishop of Tours in 371. Martin ultimately agreed to be consecrated, but maintained an ascetic lifestyle. He refused to live like a prince while the people suffered; and the poor, the sick, and prisoners continued to find shelter under his mantle. He lived near the city walls in the monastery of Marmoutier, said to be the oldest in France. Dozens of monks, including many of noble birth, lived with him and shared his austerities.

A true knight

In 397, Bishop Martin, now almost 80 years old, travelled to Candate (now Candes-Saint-Martin) to heal a local schism. On account of his virtue and strong personality, he was able to restore peace; but before he was able to return home, he fell ill with a violent fever. He asked to be laid out on the bare earth, and breathed his last before a great crowd.

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St. Martin of Tours Feast day: Nov 11

St. Martin of Tours

On Nov. 11, the Catholic Church honors St. Martin of Tours, who left his post in the Roman army to become a “soldier of Christ” as a monk and later bishop.

Martin was born around the year 316 in modern-day Hungary. His family left that region for Italy when his father, a military official of the Roman Empire, had to transfer there. Martin's parents were pagans, but he felt an attraction to the Catholic faith which had become legal throughout the empire in 313. He received religious instruction at age 10, and even considered becoming a hermit in the desert.

Circumstances, however, forced him to join the Roman army at age 15, when he had not even received baptism. Martin strove to live a humble and upright life in the military, giving away much of his pay to the poor. His generosity led to a life-changing incident, when he encountered a man freezing without warm clothing near a gate at the city of Amiens in Gaul.

As his fellow soldiers passed by the man, Martin stopped and cut his own cloak into two halves with his sword, giving one half to the freezing beggar. That night, the unbaptized soldier saw Christ in a dream, wearing the half-cloak he had given to the poor man. Jesus declared: “Martin, a catechumen, has clothed me with this garment.”

Martin knew that the time for him to join the Church had arrived. He remained in the army for two years after his baptism, but desired to give his life to God more fully that the profession would allow. But when he finally asked for permission to leave the Roman army, during an invasion by the Germans, Martin was accused of cowardice.

He responded by offering to stand before the enemy forces unarmed. “In the name of the Lord Jesus, and protected not by a helmet and buckler, but by the sign of the cross, I will thrust myself into the thickest squadrons of the enemy without fear.” But this display of faith became unnecessary when the Germans sought peace instead, and Martin received his discharge.

After living as a Catholic for some time, Martin traveled to meet Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, a skilled theologian and later canonized saint. Martin's dedication to the faith impressed the bishop, who asked the former soldier to return to his diocese after he had undertaken a journey back to Hungary to visit his parents. While there, Martin persuaded his mother, though not his father, to join the Church.

In the meantime, however, Hilary had provoked the anger of the Arians, a group that denied Jesus was God. This resulted in the bishop's banishment, so that Martin could not return to his diocese as intended. Instead Martin spent some time living a life of severe asceticism, which almost resulted in his death. The two met up again in 360, when Hilary's banishment from Poitiers ended.

After their reunion Hilary granted Martin a piece of land to build what may have been the first monastery in the region of Gaul. During the resulting decade as a monk, Martin became renowned for raising two people from the dead through his prayers. This evidence of his holiness led to his appointment as the third Bishop of Tours in the middle of present-day France.

Martin had not wanted to become a bishop, and had actually been tricked into leaving his monastery in the first place by those who wanted him the lead the local church. Once appointed, he continued to live as a monk, dressing plainly and owning no personal possessions. In this same spirit of sacrifice, he traveled throughout his diocese, from which he is said to have driven out pagan practices.

Both the Church and the Roman Empire passed through a time of upheaval during Martin's time as bishop. Priscillianism, a heresy involving salvation through a system of secret knowledge, caused such serious problems in Spain and Gaul that civil authorities sentenced the heretics to death. But Martin, along with the Pope and St. Ambrose of Milan, opposed this death sentence for the Priscillianists.

Even in old age, Martin continued to live an austere life focused on the care of souls. His disciple and biographer, St. Sulpicius Severus, noted that the bishop helped all people with their moral, intellectual and spiritual problems. He also helped many laypersons discover their calling to the consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Martin foresaw his own death and told his disciples of it. But when his last illness came upon him during a pastoral journey, the bishop felt uncertain about leaving his people.

“Lord, if I am still necessary to thy people, I refuse no labour. Thy holy will be done,” he prayed. He developed a fever, but did not sleep, passing his last several nights in the presence of God in prayer.

“Allow me, my brethren, to look rather towards heaven than upon the earth, that my soul may be directed to take its flight to the Lord to whom it is going,” he told his followers, shortly before he died in November of 397.

St. Martin of Tours has historically been among the most beloved saints in the history of Europe. In a 2007 Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope “that all Christians may be like St Martin, generous witnesses of the Gospel of love and tireless builders of jointly responsible sharing.”

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saint martin of tours bishop

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Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop, Confessor

SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS BISHOP, CONFESSOR—316-400

Feast: November 11

St. Martin, called "the glory of Gaul," was born about the year 316 of pagan parents in Sabaria, Upper Pannonia, a province comprising northern Yugoslavia and western Hungary. His father was an officer in the Roman army who had risen from the ranks. While Martin was still a child, his father was transferred to a new station in Pavia, north Italy. Here the boy learned of Christianity, felt drawn to it, and became a catechumen. As the son of a veteran, at the age of fifteen he was required to begin service in the army. Though never shirking his military duty, he is said to have lived more like a monk than a soldier.

Young Martin was stationed at Amiens, in Gaul, when the incident occurred which tradition and art have rendered so famous. As he rode towards the town one winter day, he noticed near the gates a poor man, thinly clad, shivering with cold, and begging alms. Martin saw that none who passed stopped to help the miserable fellow. He had nothing with him but the clothes he wore, but, drawing his sword from its scabbard, he cut his great woolen cloak in two pieces, gave one half to the beggar, and wrapped himself in the other. The following night, the story continues, Martin in his sleep saw Jesus Christ, surrounded by angels, and dressed in the half of the cloak he had given away. A voice bade him look at it well and say whether he knew it. He then heard Jesus say to the angels, "Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak."[1] Sulpicius Severus, the saint's friend and biographer, says that as a consequence of this vision Martin "flew to be baptized."

When Martin was about twenty, some Teutonic tribes invaded Gaul, and with his comrades he went before the Emperor Julian[2] to receive a war-bounty. Suddenly he was moved to refuse it. "Up to now," he said to Julian, "I have served you as a soldier; allow me henceforth to serve Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going out to battle. I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight." Julian, angered, accused Martin of cowardice; the young man replied that he was ready to go into battle the next day unarmed, and advance alone against the enemy in the name of Christ. He was taken off to prison, but discharged as soon as a truce had been made. He then went down to Poitiers, where the renowned Hilary had been bishop for many years. Hilary gladly received this early "conscientious objector" and ordained him deacon.

Having heard in a dream a summons to revisit his home, Martin crossed the Alps, and from Milan went over to Pannonia. There he converted his mother and some other persons; his father he could not win. While in Illyricum he took sides against the Arians with so much zeal that he was publicly scourged and forced to leave. Back in Italy once more, on his way to Gaul, he learned that the Gallic Church was also under attack by the Arians, and that his good friend Hilary had been banished. He remained at Milan, but soon the Arian bishop, Auxentius, drove him away. Martin took refuge with a priest on the island of Gallinaria, in the gulf of Genoa, and stayed there until Hilary returned to Poitiers in 360. It had become Martin's desire to pursue his religious calling in solitude, and Hilary gave him a small piece of land in central France, now called Liguge. He was joined by other hermits and holy men, and the community grew into a monastery, the first, it is said, to be founded in Gaul. It survived until 1607; in 1852 it was rebuilt by the Benedictines of Solesmes.

For ten years Martin lived there, directing the life of his disciples and preaching in outlying places. Many miracles were attributed to him. About the year 371, Lidorius, bishop of Tours, died, and the people demanded Martin in his place. Martin was so reluctant to accept the office that they resorted to stratagem and called him to the city to give his blessing to a sick person, then forcibly conveyed him to the church. When neighboring bishops were summoned to confirm this choice, they thought the monk's poor and unkempt appearance proved him unfit for the office, but they were overruled by the acclamations of the local clergy and the people. Even as a bishop, Martin lived an austere life. Unable to endure the constant interruptions, he retired from Tours to a retreat that was later to become the famous abbey of Marmoutier. The site was enclosed by a steep cliff on one side and by a tributary of the Loire River on the other. Here Martin and some of the monks who followed him built cells of wood; others lived in caves dug out of the rock. In a short time their number grew, with many men of high rank among them. From this time on bishops were frequently chosen from Marmoutier, for the holy Martin took the greatest pains in the training of priests.

Martin's piety and preaching resulted in the decline of paganism in that part of Gaul. He destroyed temples and felled trees which the heathen held sacred. Once when he had demolished a certain temple, he proceeded to the cutting down of a pine tree that stood near. The chief priest and other pagans there offered to cut it down themselves, on condition that he who trusted so strongly in his God would stand under it wherever they would place him. The bishop agreed and allowed himself to be tied and placed on the side towards which the tree was leaning. Just as it seemed about to fall on him, he made the sign of the cross, at which the tree fell in the other direction. Another time, as he was pulling down a temple in the vicinity of Autun, a crowd of pagans fell on him in fury, one brandishing a sword. Martin stood and bared his breast, at sight of which the armed man fell backwards, and in terror begged forgiveness. These marvels are narrated by Sulpicius Severus, who also describes various revelations and visions with which Martin was favored.

Once a year the bishop visited each of his parishes, traveling on foot, or by donkey or boat. He continued to set up monastic communities, and extended the bounds of his episcopate from Touraine to such distant points as Chartres, Paris, Autun, and Vienne. At Vienne, according to his biographer, he cured Paulinus of Nola of a disease of the eyes. When a brutal imperial officer, Avitianus, arrived at Tours with a band of prisoners he planned to torture to death on the following day, Martin, on being informed of this, hurried in from Marmoutier to intercede for them. Reaching the city near midnight, he went straight to the quarters of Avitianus and did not leave until the officer promised mercy to his captives.

The churches of other parts of Gaul and in Spain were being disturbed by the Priscillianists, an ascetic sect, named for its leader, Priscillian, bishop of Avila. A synod held at Bordeaux in 384 had condemned his doctrines, but he had appealed to Emperor Maximus. Meanwhile, Ithacius, the orthodox bishop of Ossanova, had attacked him and urged the emperor to have him put to death. Neither Ambrose at Milan, however, nor Martin at Tours would hold communion with Ithacius or his supporters, because they had appealed to the emperor in a dispute over doctrine, and now were trying to punish a heretic with death. Martin wrote to reprove Ithacius severely. It was sufficient, he said, that Priscillian should be branded as a heretic and excommunicated by the bishops. Maximus, yielding to Martin's remonstrances, ordered the trial deferred and even promised that there should be no bloodshed, but afterwards he was persuaded to turn the case over to his prefect Evodius. He found Priscillian and some others guilty on several charges and had them beheaded. At this news, Martin went to Treves to intercede for the lives of all the Spanish Priscillianists who were threatened with a bloody persecution, and also for two men under suspicion as adherents of the late Emperor Gratian. As a condition before granting this request, Maximus stipulated that Martin should resume communion with the intolerant Ithacius and his party. Since they were not excommunicated, this was no violation of any canon, and he accordingly promised the emperor that he would do so, provided the emperor would pardon the two partisans of Gratian and recall the military tribunes he had sent to Spain. The next day Martin received the Sacrament with the Ithacians in order to save so many people from slaughter; yet he was afterwards troubled in conscience as to whether he had been too yielding. For their part in the affair both the emperor and Ithacius were censured by Pope Siricius. It was the first judicial death sentence for heresy, and it had the effect of spreading Priscillianism in Spain.

Martin had premonitions of his approaching death and predicted it to his disciples, who besought him not to leave them. "Lord," he prayed, "if Thy people still need me, I will not draw back from the work. Thy will be done." When his final sickness came upon him, he was at Candes, in a remote part of his diocese. The monks entreated him to allow them at least to put a sheet under him and make his last hours comfortable. "It becomes not a Christian," said Martin, "to die otherwise than upon ashes. I shall have sinned if I leave you any other example." He lay with eyes and hands raised to Heaven, until the brothers begged him to turn on one side to rest his body a little. "Allow me, my brethren," he answered, "to look towards Heaven rather than to earth, that my soul may be ready to take its flight to the Lord."

On November 8 he died, and three days later was buried at Tours. Two thousand monks and nuns gathered for his funeral. His successor built a chapel over his grave, which was replaced by a fine basilica. A still later church on this site was destroyed during the French Revolution, but a modern one has since been built there. Throughout the Middle Ages, the knightly Martin, who shared his cloak with a beggar, was the subject of innumerable anecdotes, which expressed the love and veneration of the people. His tomb became a national shrine in France, of which country he is patron saint, and one of the most popular pilgrimage places of Europe. St. Martin is patron of the cities of Wurtburg and Buenos Aires. Many churches in France and elsewhere have been dedicated to him. His emblems are a tree, armor, a cloak, and a beggar.

1 The building where St. Martin's cloak was preserved as a precious relic came to be known as the <capella>, from the Latin word for cloak, <cappa>; and from <capella> is derived our word "chapel."

2 On Julian, see above, <St. Athanasius>. n. IO.

Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop, Confessor. Celebration of Feast Day is November 11. Taken from "Lives of Saints", Published by John J. Crawley & Co., Inc.

saint martin of tours bishop

St. Martin of Tours

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Bishop; born at Sabaria (today Steinamanger in German, or Szombathely in Hungarian), Pannonia (Hungary), about 316; died at Candes, Touraine, most probably in 397. In his early years, when his father , a military tribune, was transferred to Pavia in Italy , Martin accompanied him thither, and when he reached adolescence was, in accordance with the recruiting laws enrolled in the Roman army. Touched by grace at an early age, he was from the first attracted towards Christianity , which had been in favour in the camps since the conversion of Emperor Constantine . His regiment was soon sent to Amiens in Gaul , and this town became the scene of the celebrated legend of the cloak. At the gates of the city, one very cold day, Martin met a shivering and half-naked beggar. Moved with compassion, he divided his coat into two parts and gave one to the poor man. The part kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Frankish kings under the name of "St. Martin's cloak". Martin, who was still only a catechumen , soon received baptism , and was a little later finally freed from military service at Worms on the Rhine. As soon as he was free, he hastened to set out to Poitiers to enrol himself among the disciples of St. Hilary, the wise and pious bishop whose reputation as a theologian was already passing beyond the frontiers of Gaul. Desiring, however, to see his parents again, he returned to Lombardy across the Alps. The inhabitants of this region, infested with Arianism , were bitterly hostile towards Catholicism , so that Martin, who did not conceal his faith , was very badly treated by order of Bishop Auxentius of Milan , the leader of the heretical sect in Italy . Martin was very desirous of returning to Gaul , but, learning that the Arians troubled that country also and had even succeeded in exiling Hilary to the Orient, he decided to seek shelter on the island of Gallinaria (now Isola d'Albenga) in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

As soon as Martin learned that an imperial decree had authorized Hilary to return to Gaul , he hastened to the side of his chosen master at Poitiers in 361, and obtained permission from him to embrace at some distance from there in a deserted region (now called Ligugé) the solitary life that he had adopted in Gallinaria. His example was soon followed, and a great number of monks gathered around him. Thus was formed in this Gallic Thebaid a real laura, from which later developed the celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Ligugé. Martin remained about ten years in this solitude, but often left it to preach the Gospel in the central and western parts of Gaul, where the rural inhabitants were still plunged in the darkness of idolatry and given up to all sorts of gross superstitions . The memory of these apostolic journeyings survives to our day in the numerous local legends of which Martin is the hero and which indicate roughly the routes that he followed. When St. Lidorius, second Bishop of Tours , died in 371 or 372, the clergy of that city desired to replace him by the famous hermit of Ligugé. But, as Martin remained deaf to the prayers of the deputies who brought him this message, it was necessary to resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance. A certain Rusticius, a rich citizen of Tours , went and begged him to come to his wife, who was in the last extremity, and to prepare her for death. Without any suspicions, Martin followed him in all haste, but hardly had he entered the city when, in spite of the opposition of a few ecclesiastical dignitaries, popular acclamation constrained him to become Bishop of the Church of Tours .

Consecrated on 4 July, Martin brought to the accomplishment of the duties of his new ministry all the energy and the activity of which he had already given so many proofs . He did not, however, change his way of life: fleeing from the distractions of the large city, he settled himself in a small cell at a short distance from Tours , beyond the Loire. Some other hermits joined him there, and thus was gradually formed a new monastery , which surpassed that of Ligugé, as is indicated by the name, Marmoutier ( Majus Monasterium ), which it has kept to our own day. Thus, to an untiring zeal Martin added the greatest simplicity, and it is this which explains how his pastoral administration so admirably succeeded in sowing Christianity throughout Touraine. Nor was it a rare occurrence for him to leave his diocese when he thought that his appearance in some distant locality might produce some good. He even went several times to Trier , where the emperors had established their residence, to plead the interests of the Church or to ask pardon for some condemned person . His role in the matter of the Priscillianists and Ithacians was especially remarkable. Against Priscillian, the Spanish heresiarch, and his partisans, who had been justly condemned by the Council of Saragossa, furious charges were brought before Emperor Maximus by some orthodox bishops of Spain , led by Bishop Ithacius. Martin hurried to Trier , not indeed to defend the Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines of Priscillian, but to remove him from the secular jurisdiction of the emperor. Maximus at first acceded to his entreaty, but, when Martin had departed, yielded to the solicitations of Ithacius and ordered Priscillian and his followers to be beheaded. Deeply grieved, Martin refused to communicate with Ithacius. However, when he went again to Trier a little later to ask pardon for two rebels, Narses and Leucadius, Maximus would only promise it to him on condition that he would make his peace with Ithaeius. To save the lives of his clients, he consented to this reconciliation, but afterwards reproached himself bitterly for this act of weakness.

After a last visit to Rome , Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centres created by him in his diocese , when he was attacked by the malady which ended his life. Ordering himself to be carried into the presbytery of the church, he died there in 400 (according to some authorities, more probably in 397) at the age of about 81, evincing until the last that exemplary spirit of humility and mortification which he had ever shown. The Church of France has always considered Martin one of her greatest saints , and hagiographers have recorded a great number of miracles due to his intercession while he was living and after his death. His cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages , a multitude of churches and chapels were dedicated to him, and a great number of places have been called by his name. His body, taken to Tours , was enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus , built first a simple chapel , and later a basilica (470). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus , sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb . A larger basilica was constructed in 1014 which was burned down in 1230 to be rebuilt soon on a still larger scale This sanctuary was the centre of great national pilgrimages until 1562, the fatal year when the Protestants sacked it from top to bottom, destroying the sepulchre and the relics of the great wonder-worker, the object of their hatred . The ill-fated collegiate church was restored by its canons, but a new and more terrible misfortune awaited it. The revolutionary hammer of 1793 was to subject it to a last devastation. It was entirely demolished with the exception of the two towers which are still standing and, so that its reconstruction might be impossible, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site. In December, 1860, skilfully executed excavations located the site of St. Martin's tomb , of which some fragments were discovered. These precious remains are at present sheltered in a basilica built by Mgr Meignan, Archbishop of Tours which is unfortunately of very small dimensions and recalls only faintly the ancient and magnificent cloister of St. Martin. On 11 November each year the feast of St. Martin is solemnly celebrated in this church in the presence of a large number of the faithful of Tours and other cities and villages of the diocese .

About this page

APA citation. Clugnet, L. (1910). St. Martin of Tours. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09732b.htm

MLA citation. Clugnet, Léon. "St. Martin of Tours." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09732b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael C. Tinkler. In honor of the Societas Sancti Martini Episcopi Turonensis at Emory University.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

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saint martin of tours bishop

Life of St. Martin of Tours

St. martin of tours.

Both Saint Martin and Saint Nicholas are remembered for their heroic charity, both became famed wonder-working bishops, and both saved sailors from shipwreck. As we celebrate the feast day of Martin, November 11, we focus here on this saint whose fabled life notably started with the pity he showed a poor beggar by cutting his cloak in two, making him in one stroke the patron of both soldiers and tailors!

A Military Man

Born into a pagan military family around 316, Martin’s father was a tribune, subject to constant reassignment. Martin was born in modern day Hungary but grew up in Pavia, Italy, where his father was stationed. In those formative years he was attracted to Christianity. At age ten he went to church and begged to become a catechumen. At age twelve he wanted to become a hermit. But at fifteen, he was drafted into the Roman army due to a law issued by the emperor demanding that sons of retired veterans should take their fathers’ places. Soon he was stationed in Reims and later in Amiens, where the signature event in his life occurred. As he was passing through the city gates one bitterly cold winter, he spied a forlorn and tattered beggar pleading for alms. Having nothing to give him but a share in his own clothing, Martin drew his sword and cut his cloak in two. In a painting by an unknown German master the beggar is depicted as a crippled invalid missing a foot. This is common to German illustrations of the legend, and it contrasts strikingly with Martin, who is depicted standing in bright red leggings rather than in his usual pose, armored and riding a horse. Here the enabled one extends charity to the disabled and a Gospel mandate is fulfilled: “I was naked and you clothed me…inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brethren you did it to me” (cf. Mt 25:36, 40). That night in a dream, Martin saw Christ wearing that portion of cloak that he had given the beggar, and heard him saying to the angels that surrounded him, “Martin the catechumen has clothed me with this garment.” Thereupon Martin had himself baptized. More than ever he wanted to renounce the world and live entirely for Christ, but he lived up to his military contract for two more years, envisioning himself more and more as a soldier for Christ rather than for the emperor. 

After his release from the army, Martin presented himself to Hilary, the bishop of Poitiers, who made him an acolyte. In a dream he was told to visit his parents and convert them. His mother embraced the faith, but his father would not. On this journey, he preached against the Arian heresy, and suffered a public scourging for it when he fell into the hands of the enemy. Managing to return to Poitiers, the bishop gave him a plot of land on which to build a hut. It was two miles outside the city in a place now called Ligugé. This became the core of Martin’s spirituality: prayer, solitude, and sacrifice. Adopting a hair shirt and animal skins for his habit (a far cry from the fancy uniform depicted in the painting) Martin lived the life of a hermit in his wooden hut. In time, he attracted more and more men who wanted to follow his example. From this primitive beginning, Martin established the first monastic community in Gaul. The discipline he received in the military provided the fertile ground in which his monastic system could flower. But the Lord had further plans for Martin, and called him from his spiritual oasis when the bishop of Tours died in 371.

A Beloved Bishop

Martin had no desire to become a bishop (the first sign that he would make a good one). But supporters tricked him into coming to Tours, where he was persuaded to stay and assume the episcopacy. He did not occupy the bishop’s residence and he refused to sit on the bishop’s throne. He sat on a three-legged stool instead. He also abhorred the tumult of the city, and established another monastery as his home, this time in a series of caves carved out of the cliffs of nearby Marmoutier. As many as eighty men joined him, and from among this ascetic group many cities chose their bishops.

As bishop of Tours, Martin preached around the countryside, performing many wonders, from communication with animals to raisings from the dead. Nearly a thousand years before Saint Francis, Martin was known to kiss a poor leper and cure him. The saint’s biographer, Sulpicius Severus, compared Martin to the Apostles, and attributed to him amazing miracles that included healings, exorcisms, visions of angels, and temptations by devils. In 397, as he saw death approaching, he donned sackcloth and ashes. When he finally expired, those around him heard choirs of angels singing. The people of both Poitiers and Tours fought over his body. Saint Ambrose of Milan claimed to have telepathically attended his funeral. Later, the kings of France would carry Martin’s cloak into battle as a talisman for victory. But the triumph worth winning, as Martin’s life attested, was in the victory over self and the allurements of the world. And this insight came from a man who was a bishop, who remained a monk, who remained a soldier for Christ to the end. 

Both Saint Martin and Saint Nicholas are remembered for their heroic charity, both became famed wonder-working bishops, and both saved sailors from shipwreck. As we celebrate the feast day of Martin, November 11, we focus here on this saint whose fabled life notably started with the pity he showed a poor beggar by cutting his cloak in two, making him in one stroke the patron of both soldiers and tailors! 

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Saints and Feasts

Martin, bishop of tours.

saint martin of tours bishop

November 12

Saint Martin, the great luminary of Gaul, was the son of pagan parents. When he was still quite young he became a catechumen; at the age of twenty-two he received Holy Baptism. Then he undertook the labours of a monk, and was afterwards consecrated Bishop of Tours, renowned as an ascetic and wonderworker, a faithful shepherd of Christ's flock. He converted many both from paganism and heresy, cast out demons and raised the dead, and while undertaking all the apostolic burdens of a bishop, he never ceased to be a simple monk and man of prayer. His monastery became a center of monasticism not only for Gaul, but for all of Western Europe. A widely celebrated incident of his life took place when he was still a catechumen, fulfilling his military service. Seeing an ill-clad beggar asking alms at the gate of the city of Amiens and being overlooked by passersby, Saint Martin, having nothing else to give, rent his military cloak in two with his sword and gave half to the beggar, so that he might cover himself in the cold. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, clothed with the half of the cloak he had given to the beggar. Saint Martin's cloak - capella in Latin - was kept in a sanctuary which came to be called capella , from which the word "chapel" is derived; and they under whose care it was kept were called cappellani , from which "chaplain" is derived. Saint Martin reposed in peace in the year 397.

Apolytikion of Martin, Bishop of Tours

Fourth tone.

In signs and in miracles thou wast renowned throughout Gaul; by grace and adoption now thou art a light for the world, O Martin, most blest of God. Almsdeeds and compassion filled thy life with their splendour; teaching and wise counsel were thy riches and treasures, which thou dost dispense freely unto all them that honour thee.

Kontakion of Martin, Bishop of Tours

Plagal of the fourth tone.

As a devoted man of God, thou didst proclaim His mysteries. And as a seer of the Trinity, thou didst shed thy blessings on the Occident. By thy prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise thy memory.

saint martin of tours bishop

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Martin of Tours, Saint

Bishop; b. about 316; d. 397.

saint martin of tours bishop

Martin of Tours , Saint, bishop; b. at Sabaria (today Steinamanger in German, or Szombathely in Hungarian), Pannonia ( Hungary ), about 316; d. at Candes, Touraine, most probably in 397. In his early years, when his father, a military tribune, was transferred to Pavia in Italy , Martin accompanied him thither, and when he reached adolescence was, in accordance with the recruiting laws, enrolled in the Roman army. Touched by grace at an early age, he was from the first attracted towards Christianity , which had been in favor in the camps since the conversion of Emperor Constantine. His regiment was soon sent to Amiens in Gaul, and this town became the scene of the celebrated legend of the cloak. At the gates of the city, one very cold day, Martin met a shivering and half-naked beggar. Moved with compassion, he divided his coat into two parts and gave one to the poor man. The part kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Frankish kings under the name of “St. Martin ‘s cloak”. Martin , who was still only a catechumen, soon received baptism, and was a little later finally freed from military service at Worms on the Rhine. As soon as he was free, he hastened to set out to Poitiers to enrol himself among the disciples of St. Hilary, the wise and pious bishop whose reputation as a theologian was already passing beyond the frontiers of Gaul. Desiring, however, to see his parents again, he returned to Lombardy across the Alps. The inhabitants of this region, infested with Arianism , were bitterly hostile towards Catholicism, so that Martin , who did not conceal his faith, was very badly treated by order of Bishop Auxentius of Milan, the leader of the heretical sect in Italy . Martin was very desirous of returning to Gaul, but, learning that the Arians troubled that country also and had even succeeded in exiling Hilary to the Orient, he decided to seek shelter on the island of Gallinaria (now Isola d’Albenga) in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

As soon as Martin learned that an imperial decree had authorized Hilary to return to Gaul, he hastened to the side of his chosen master at Poitiers in 361, and obtained permission from him to embrace at some distance from there in a deserted region (now called Liguge) the solitary life that he had adopted in Gallinaria. His example was soon followed, and a great number of monks gathered around him. Thus was formed in this Gallic Thebaid a real laura, from which later developed the celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Liguge . Martin remained about ten years in this solitude, but often left it to preach the Gospel in the central and western parts of Gaul, where the rural inhabitants were still plunged in the darkness of idolatry and given up to all sorts of gross superstitions. The memory of these apostolic journeyings survives to our day in the numerous local legends of which Martin is the hero and which indicate roughly the routes that he followed. When St. Lidorius, second Bishop of Tours, died in 371 or 372, the clergy of that city desired to replace him by the famous hermit of Liguge. But, as Martin remained deaf to the prayers of the deputies who brought him this message, it was necessary to resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance. A certain Rusticius, a rich citizen of Tours, went and begged him to come to his wife, who was in the last extremity, and to prepare her for death. Without any suspicion, Martin followed him in all haste, but hardly had he entered the city when, in spite of the opposition of a few ecclesiastical dignitaries, popular acclamation constrained him to become Bishop of the Church of Tours.

After a last visit to Rome , Martin went to Candes, one of the religious centers created by him in his diocese, when he was attacked by the malady which ended his life. Ordering himself to be carried into the presbytery of the church, he died there in 400 (according to some authorities; more probably in 397) at the age of about 81, evincing until the last that exemplary spirit of humility and mortification which he had ever shown. The Church of France has always considered Martin one of her greatest saints, and hagiographers have recorded a great number of miracles due to his intercession while he was living and after his death. His cult was very popular throughout the Middle Ages , a multitude of churches and chapels were dedicated to him, and a great number of places have been called by his name. His body, taken to Tours, was enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above which his successors, St. Britius and St. Perpetuus, built first a simple chapel, and later a basilica (470). St. Euphronius, Bishop of Autun and a friend of St. Perpetuus, sent a sculptured tablet of marble to cover the tomb. A larger basilica was constructed in 1014, which was burned down in 1230 to be rebuilt soon on a still larger scale. This sanctuary was the center of great national pilgrimages until 1562, the fatal year when the Protestants sacked it from top to bottom, destroying the sepulchre and the relics of the great wonderworker, the object of their hatred. The ill-fated collegiate church was restored by its canons, but a new and more terrible misfortune awaited it. The revolutionary hammer of 1793 was to subject it to alast devastation. It was entirely demolished with the exception of the two towers which are still standing, and, so that its reconstruction might be impossible, the atheistic municipality caused two streets to be opened up on its site. In December, 1860, skillfully executed excavations located the site of St. Martin ‘s tomb, of which some fragments were discovered. These precious remains are at present sheltered in a basilica built by Msgr. Meignan, Archbishop of Tours, which is unfortunately of very small dimensions and recalls only faintly the ancient and magnificent cloister of St. Martin . On November 11 each year the feast of St. Martin is solemnly celebrated in this church in the presence of a large number of the faithful of Tours and other cities and villages of the diocese.

LEON CLUGNET

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Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours - Troparion & Kontakion

Troparion — tone 4.

In signs and in miracles you were renowned throughout Gaul. / By grace and adoption you are a light for the world, O Martin, blessed of God. / Almsgiving and compassion filled your life with their splendors, / teaching and wise counsel were your riches and treasures, / which you dispense freely to those who honor you.

Kontakion — Tone 8

As a devoted man of God, you proclaimed His mysteries, / and as a seer of the Trinity, you shed your blessings on the Occident. / By your prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, / preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise your memory.

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Crest and Motto

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At the middle-top is the golden fleur-de-lis , a symbol of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and also of Tours, France.

The fleur-de-lis is flanked by a crescent moon to its left and an Ave-Maria to its right. The moon symbolizes both the passing of time and also the shield of the British Royal House of "Lee." The Ave-Maria, in addition to honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary, also refers to "May," Mary's month. The two symbols may be compiled together as both: "The Woman with the moon under her feet" of Revelation 12, and also (cheekily) the rebus "Lee" + "May" = "Lemay," the location of our parish.

The wavy line in the shield's midsection represents the Mississippi River (as well as the current of water that forms at the church entrance when it rains).

The goose at the shield's bottom recalls the story of St. Martin’s attempt to avoid the episcopacy. When Martin got word that the people of Tours wanted to make him bishop by acclamation, he hid in an obscure barn. However, a goose nesting in the barn ran to the town square, squawking and flapping its wings. Upon alerting the townspeople, the goose led them to Martin's hiding place. His cover blown, Martin accepted the will of the people and became their bishop.

The colors of the shield are gold and blue, the traditional colors for St. Martin of Tours Parish.

Motto Transparent Background

The motto, Nisi Dominus Frustra  refers to the opening verse of Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord [build the house] in vain [do we labor].

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Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

Lectionary: 494

In Wisdom is a spirit     intelligent, holy, unique, Manifold, subtle, agile,     clear, unstained, certain, Not baneful, loving the good, keen,     unhampered, beneficent, kindly, Firm, secure, tranquil,     all-powerful, all-seeing, And pervading all spirits,     though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle. For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,     and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity. For she is an aura of the might of God     and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;     therefore nought that is sullied enters into her. For she is the refulgence of eternal light,     the spotless mirror of the power of God,     the image of his goodness. And she, who is one, can do all things,     and renews everything while herself perduring; And passing into holy souls from age to age,     she produces friends of God and prophets. For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells with Wisdom. For she is fairer than the sun     and surpasses every constellation of the stars. Compared to light, she takes precedence;     for that, indeed, night supplants,     but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.

Indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily     and governs all things well.

Responsorial Psalm

R.    (89a) Your word is for ever, O Lord. Your word, O LORD, endures forever;     it is firm as the heavens. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord. Through all generations your truth endures;     you have established the earth, and it stands firm. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord. According to your ordinances they still stand firm:     all things serve you. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord. The revelation of your words sheds light,     giving understanding to the simple. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord. Let your countenance shine upon your servant,     and teach me your statutes. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord. Let my soul live to praise you,     and may your ordinances help me. R.     Your word is for ever, O Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia. I am the vine, you are the branches, says the Lord: whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church | Martinsville, Indiana

Very Rev.Stephen Giannini Learn more about Fr. Steve

https://www.archindy.org/staff/priests/giannini-stephen.html

ASSISTING PRIESTS We are honored and grateful to have staff from Bishop Simon Brute’ College Seminary serve our parish by offering weekend and Holy Day masses, giving Fr. Steve the help and support he needs as he serves both our parish and the parish of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi in Greenwood. +Very Rev. Joseph Moriarty – Rector at Bishop Simon Brute’ +Rev. Andrew Syberg – Vice Rector at Bishop Simon Brute’

Our Patron Saint

Saint Martin of Tours, born around 316 AD at Sabaria, Pannonia [now Szombathely, Hungary], became the third Bishop of Tours and is highly esteemed as a great saint by the Church of France. Actually, many locations across Europe have also been placed under his patronage. St. Martin is the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers. A great number of miracles have been recorded due to his intercession while living and after his death. We celebrate his feast day November 11th and encourage you to learn more about Saint Martin of Tours.

Parish History

The first church building was erected under the direction of Rev. Daniel Maloney, who from 1848–1855 served the small local group of Catholics in Martinsville from his home parish in Columbus, IN.

IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. Martin of Tours

    Martin of Tours ( Latin: Martinus Turonensis; 316/336 - 8 November 397), also known as Martin the Merciful, was the third bishop of Tours.

  2. Saint Martin of Tours

    (c. 316 - November 8, 397) Saint Martin of Tours' Story A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr.

  3. St. Martin of Tours

    St. Martin of Tours (born 316, Sabaria, Pannonia [now Szombathely, Hungary]—died November 8, 397, Candes, Gaul [France]; Western feast day, November 11; Eastern feast day November 12) patron saint of France, father of monasticism in Gaul, and the first great leader of Western monasticism. Of pagan parentage, Martin chose Christianity at age 10.

  4. Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

    316 or 336-397 Patron Saint of beggars, cavalry, equestrians, geese, horses, innkeepers, Pontifical Swiss Guards, quartermasters, reformed alcoholics, soldiers, tailors, and winemakers Invoked against alcoholism and poverty Pre-Congregation canonization Liturgical Color: White

  5. St. Martin of Tours

    Feastday: November 11 Patron: of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers Birth: 316 or 336 Death: 397 Author and Publisher - Catholic Online Printable Catholic Saints PDFs Shop St. Martin of Tours Saint Martin of Tours was born in in Savaria, Pannonia in either the year 316 or 336 AD.

  6. St. Martin, Bishop of Tours

    Presto St. Martin, Bishop of Tours 11 November Saint Martin (© Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) There are few people whose life story can be summed up in a single indelible act. Saint Martin belongs in this special category. The story of Martin giving up half of his cloak is emblematic of his life.

  7. St. Martin of Tours

    St. Martin of Tours. On Nov. 11, the Catholic Church honors St. Martin of Tours, who left his post in the Roman army to become a "soldier of Christ" as a monk and later bishop. Martin was born ...

  8. St. Martin, Confessor, Bishop of Tours

    St. Martin, Confessor, Bishop of Tours Author: Rev. Alban Butler ST MARTIN, CONFESSOR, BISHOP OF TOURS A.D. 397 Feast: November 11 [For the history of St. Martin we are chiefly indebted to his illustrious disciple St. Sulpicius Severus who, in an elegant and classical style, wrote his life some time before his death.]

  9. Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop, Confessor

    Feast: November 11 St. Martin, called "the glory of Gaul," was born about the year 316 of pagan parents in Sabaria, Upper Pannonia, a province comprising northern Yugoslavia and western Hungary. His father was an officer in the Roman army who had risen from the ranks.

  10. CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Martin of Tours

    When St. Lidorius, second Bishop of Tours, died in 371 or 372, the clergy of that city desired to replace him by the famous hermit of Ligugé. But, as Martin remained deaf to the prayers of the deputies who brought him this message, it was necessary to resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance.

  11. Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours

    Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, was born at Sabaria in Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 316. Since his father was a Roman officer, he also was obliged to serve in the army. Martin did so unwillingly, for he considered himself a soldier of Christ, though he was still a catechumen.

  12. Life of St. Martin of Tours

    As bishop of Tours, Martin preached around the countryside, performing many wonders, from communication with animals to raisings from the dead. Nearly a thousand years before Saint Francis, Martin was known to kiss a poor leper and cure him.

  13. Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop

    Is 61:1-3abcd The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort all who mourn;

  14. Martin, Bishop of Tours

    Martin, Bishop of Tours english ελληνικά Print November 12 Reading Saint Martin, the great luminary of Gaul, was the son of pagan parents. When he was still quite young he became a catechumen; at the age of twenty-two he received Holy Baptism.

  15. Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

    Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop Lectionary: 490 Reading 1 Rom 16:3-9, 16, 22-27 Brothers and sisters: Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I am grateful but also all the churches of the Gentiles; greet also the Church at their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus,

  16. Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

    Readings for the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop; LISTEN PODCAST; VIEW REFLECTION VIDEO; En Español; View Calendar; Get Daily Readings E-mails; Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop Lectionary: 493. Reading 1 . Ti 3:1-7. Beloved: Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, ...

  17. Saint Spotlight: Martin of Tours

    November 2, 2023. On November 11, the Catholic Church honors St. Martin of Tours, who left his post in the Roman army to become a "soldier of Christ" as a monk and later bishop. Martin was born around the year 316 in modern-day Hungary. His family left that region for Italy when his father, a military official of the Roman Empire, had to ...

  18. Martin of Tours, Saint

    When St. Lidorius, second Bishop of Tours, died in 371 or 372, the clergy of that city desired to replace him by the famous hermit of Liguge. But, as Martin remained deaf to the prayers of the deputies who brought him this message, it was necessary to resort to a ruse to overcome his resistance.

  19. St. Martin, Bishop of Tours

    St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876. S t. Martin, celebrated throughout the whole Church of Christ, and praised and exalted in the works of several holy Fathers, was born in Hungary of heathen parents. Having reached his tenth year, he went often secretly to the Church of the Christians to assist at Mass and to ...

  20. Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours

    Saint Martin the Merciful, Bishop of Tours, was born at Sabaria in Pannonia (modern Hungary) in 316. Since his father was a Roman officer, he also was obliged to serve in the army. Martin did so unwillingly, for he considered himself a soldier of Christ, though he was still a catechumen. At the….

  21. Crest and Motto

    Crest. At the middle-top is the golden fleur-de-lis, a symbol of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and also of Tours, France. The fleur-de-lis is flanked by a crescent moon to its left and an Ave-Maria to its right. The moon symbolizes both the passing of time and also the shield of the British Royal House of "Lee." The Ave-Maria, in addition to ...

  22. Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

    Readings for the Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, bishop; LISTEN PODCAST; VIEW REFLECTION VIDEO; En Español; View Calendar; Get Daily Readings E-mails; Memorial of Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop Lectionary: 494. Reading I. Wis 7:22b-8:1. In Wisdom is a spirit ...

  23. About Us

    Our Patron Saint. Saint Martin of Tours, born around 316 AD at Sabaria, Pannonia [now Szombathely, Hungary], became the third Bishop of Tours and is highly esteemed as a great saint by the Church of France. Actually, many locations across Europe have also been placed under his patronage. St. Martin is the patron of the poor, soldiers ...

  24. This weekend is...

    This weekend is Education Weekend for the 2024 Bishop's Services Appeal.

  25. Page couldn't load • Instagram

    This charming tradition has its roots in Tours,..." Visit Skåne on Instagram: "Have you ever heard of Skåne's goose dinner? This charming tradition has its roots in Tours, France, around 300 A.D. when the locals wanted Saint Martin of Tours as their bishop.