Feast of St Martin of Tours


St Martin of Tours, a soldier turned monk and bishop, is an important saint in the Benedictine tradition, as St Benedict dedicated a chapel at Monte Cassino to him.

The life of St Martin

From the reading at Matins:

(Reading 5): Martin was born at Sabaria in Pannonia. When he was ten years old he went to the Church, in the spite of his (heathen) father and mother, and by his own will was numbered among the Catechumens. At fifteen years of age he joined the army, and served as a soldier first under Constantius and then under Julian. Once at the gate of Amiens a poor man asked him for an alms for Christ's name's sake, and since he had nothing to his hand but his arms and his clothes, he gave him half of his cloak. In the night following Christ appeared to him clad in the half of his cloak, and saying (to the angels who bare Him company) While Martin is yet a Catechumen, he hath clad Me in this garment.

(Reading 6): At eighteen years of age he was baptized. He gave up thereupon the life of a soldier, and betook himself to Hilary, Bishop of Poietiers, by whom he was placed in the order of Acolytes. Being afterwards made Bishop of Tours, he built a monastery wherein he lived in holiness for a while in company of four-score monks. 

(Reading 7): At the last he fell sick of a grievous fever at Cande, a village in his diocese, and besought God in constant prayer to set him free from the prison of this dying body. His disciples heard him and said Father, why wilt thou go away from us? unto whom wilt thou bequeath us in our sorrow? Their words moved Martin, and he said Lord, if I be still needful to thy people, I refuse not to work.

(Reading 8): When his disciples saw him, in the height of the fever, lying upon his back and praying, they entreated him to turn over and take a little rest upon his side while the violence of his sickness would allow him. But Martin answered them Suffer me to look heavenward rather than earthward, that my spirit may see the way whereby it is so soon going to the Lord. At the moment of death he saw the enemy of mankind, and cried out: What are you come here for, you bloody brute? You murderer, you'll find nothing in me. With these words on his lips, he gave up his soul to God, being aged eighty years. He was received by a company of Angels, who were heard praising God by many persons, especially by holy Severinus, Bishop of Cologne.

The readings for the feast at Matins are:

Nocturn I: I Timothy 3: 1-9; Titus 1:7-11& 2:1-8
Nocturn II: On the life of St Martin
Nocturn III: Homily of St Ambrose on Luke 7
Gospel: Luke 11: 33-36


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