Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Martin of Tours (316-97)

Martin was born around 316 to pagan parents. His father was a soldier, who enlisted Martin in the army at the age of fifteen.
He recieved a discharge from the army of Rome to become a monk.A community grew up around him in France. Whole areas were transformed by teams of his followers who went out among the people doing good works coupled with the good news of the Gospel.

In 371 he was elected bishop of Tours. His was a mainly pagan diocese, but his instruction and personal manner of life prevailed. In one instance, the pagan priests agreed to fell their idol, a large fir tree, if Martin would stand directly in the path of its fall. He did so, and it missed him very narrowly. When an officer of the Imperial Guard arrived with a batch of prisoners who were to be tortured and executed the next day, Martin intervened and secured their release.

Martin was a hermit than a monastic in the tradition of the Desert Fathers. With his communities we have the beginings of a missionary monastic movement that was to characterize early Esetic and Celtic Christianity
The Feast of Martin falls on the Armistice ( rememberance day)which marked the end of the First World War. On it we remember those who have risked or lost their lives in what they perceived as the pursuit of justice and peace.

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