St. Martin of Tours: A Soldier in the “Army of God”
Not only is it Veteran’s day today, but it is the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the “Army of God” who is the patron saint of soldiers.
Saint Martin was born to pagan parents in Hungary. When he was fifteen years old, he was enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day.
The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: “I was naked, and you clothed Me.”
“My friend,” he said, “I have nothing but my weapons and my garments.”
And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar.
The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: “It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me.”
Soon afterwards he was baptized.
Charity, purity, and bravery distinguished the life of the young soldier. He was discharged from the army at the age of twenty. Martin succeeded in converting his mother, but was driven from his home by the Arians and took refuge with Saint Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers.
He founded the monastery of Ligugé, the first in Gaul. The brilliance of his holiness and his miracles resulted in his being selected as the Bishop of Tours, despite his resistance. His flock, though Christian in name, were still pagan at heart. Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and through his preaching and miracles converted the people. His power over demons was extraordinary. Idolatry never recovered from the blows given to it by Saint Martin.
After renewing his diocese, Martin felt the calling to journey outside its boundaries. Clothed in a poor tunic and a rude cloak, and seated on an ass, accompanied only by a few religious, he left like a poor missionary to evangelize the countryside. He passed through all of the provinces of Gaul, and neither mountains, nor rivers, nor dangers of any description stopped him. He was a faithful and victorious apostle of the Lord, which resulted in his earning the title of the Light and the Apostle of Gaul.
St. Martin of Tours is the patron of beggars; cavalry; equestrians; France; geese; horse men; horses; hotel-keepers; innkeepers; Mainz, Germany; quartermasters; reformed alcoholics; riders; soldiers; tailors; vintners; wine growers; and wine makers. He is also the patron against: poverty and alcoholism.
Prayer to St. Martin of Tours for our soldiers
St. Martin, you were first a soldier like your father. Converted to the Church, you became a soldier of Christ, a priest and then a Bishop of Tours. Lover of the poor, and model for pagans and Christians alike, protect our soldiers at all times. Make them strong, just, and charitable, always aiming at establishing peace on earth. Amen.
Prayer to continue to fight for God
Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner. Amen.
~ St. Martin of Tours
Remember to pray today for all veterans — both past and present.
My Personal Prayer
Today, Father God, I give You thanks for all those who have courageously fought and died to serve our country and to preserve our many freedoms. I thank you especially for those members of my family who fought to keep our nation free: my dad, who fought in WWII, my brother, who fought in the Viet Nam War, my sister and her husband, who have both served in the military, all my uncles who served in WWII, and all our soldiers, Lord. Thank you for their great sacrifice. Amen.
~ copyright Jean M. Heimann November 2014