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November 11

St Martin of Tours - November 11 Painting by Alfred Rethel taken from Wikimedia Commons

Saint Martin of Tours

Bishop and Confessor

(Around 316 – 397)

“​Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done.

Saint Martin of Tours

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Martin was born in Sabaria, Pannonia (now Szombathely, Hungary) around 316, He was the son of a pagan Roman army officer and tribune. Martin grew up in Pavia, Italy. At the age of 10, he attended the Christian church against the wishes of his parents and became a catechumen. Martin joined the Roman imperial army at age 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor’s bodyguard, rarely exposed to combat. He was a Cavalry officer assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (France).

Life as a Baptized Christian

Martin was baptised into the Church at age 18. Trying to live his faith, he refused to let his servant to wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, Martin cut his heavy officer‘s cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later, he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak. Martin is most generally portrayed on horseback dividing his cloak with the beggar.

Just before a battle, Martin announced that his faith prohibited him from fighting. He was charged with cowardice and was jailed. His superiors planned to put him in the front of the battle. However, the invaders sued for peace and the battle never occurred. Martin was released from military service at Worms, Germany. Martin became a spiritual student of Saint Hilary of Poiters in France.

On a visit to Lombardy to see his parents, Martin was robbed in the mountains. Somehow, he managed to convert one of the thieves. At home he found that his mother had converted, but his father had not. The area was strongly Arian, and openly hostile to Catholics. Martin was badly abused by the heretics. Learning that the Arians had gained the upper hand in Gaul and exiled Saint Hilary, Martin fled to the island of Gallinaria (modern Isola d’Albenga).

Hermit Life

Learning that the emperor had authorized the return of Hilary, Martin ran to him in 361. Then he became a hermit for ten years in the area now known as Ligugé. A reputation for holiness attracted other monks.

With these monks, Martin formed what would become the Benedictine abbey of Ligugé. He preached and evangelized through the Gallic countryside. Martin destroyed old temples and built churches on the same land. He continued to win converts. Martin was a friend of Saint Liborius, the bishop of Le Mans, France.

Bishop of Tours

When the bishop of Tours, France died in 371, Martin was the immediate choice to replace him. Martin declined, citing his unworthiness. Rusticus, a wealthy citizen of Tours, claimed that his wife was ill and asked for Martin. Tricked by this ruse, Martin went to the city. He really didn’t want to become a bishop. So he tried to hid, but a goose started  honking as he tried to hide. The goose revealed his hiding place and the jubilant crowd dragged him off to church to ordain him. Martin was consecrated as Biship of Tours on July 4, 372.

As bishop, Martin lived in a hermit‘s cell near Tours. Soon other monks joined him. Martin founded in 372 the Abbey of Marmoutier for these monks. He rarely left his monastery or see city. Martin went to Trier, Germany to plead with the emperor. He pleaded against the bloodbath about to be unleashed against the Priscillianists in Spain.

Once when Martin went to ask for lenience for a condemned prisoner, an angel woke the emperor to tell him that Martin was waiting to see him; the prisoner was reprieved.

Martin himself was given to visions, but even his contemporaries sometimes ascribed them to his habit of lengthy fasts. An extensive biography of Martin was written by Sulpicius Severus.

First Non-Martyr to be a Saint

Martin made a visit to Rome. Then, he went to Candes, in Touraine, France. Here, Martin established a religious center. Martin died in Candes-Saint-Martin, Tours, France on November 8, 397. However, his feast day is celebrated on November 11. He was the first non-martyr to receive the cultus of a saint.  Martin is one of the great saints of France and an outstanding pioneer of Western monasticism prior to Saint Benedict of Nursia.

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         November 11

Patron Saint:    Against Alcoholism, Against Poverty, Beggars, Cavalry, Equestrians, France, Geese, Horses, Innkeepers; Mainz, Germany; Soldiers, Tailors



Saint Martin of Tours, you have provided us with many examples of staying true to your Catholic faith through selfless charity. You literally gave the coat off your back to a poor naked man. You even forgave and converted someone who robbed you. Like Saint Martin of Tours, we are also called as Catholics to live our faith through prayer and social action.

Is there someone you know who is need that you can help today?  Remember your help may be through prayers as well as gifts of food and clothing.


Saint Martin of Tours, as a soldier, you cut your own cloak and shared it with a naked poor man you met in a cold winter. You truly lived out Jesus’ words in the Gospel – “I was naked, and you clothed Me.” May we clothe both physically and spiritually those around us in need.

Saint Martin of Tours, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – How St. Martin of Tours can change your perspective on Thanksgiving

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Martin of Tours

Anastpaul – Saint of the Day – 11 November – St Martin of Tours (c 316-397)

Angelus – Saint of the day: Martin of Tours – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 11 St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, Confessor

Catholic Culture  – St. Martin of Tours

Catholic Exchange – Halving the Shepherd: What Our Clergy Can Learn From St. Martin of Tours

Catholic Fire – St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the “Army of God”

Catholic Ireland – Nov 11 – St Martin of Tours (1) 316-397: patron of Franc

Catholic News Agency – St. Martin of Tours Feast Day: Nov 11

Catholic Online – St. Martin of Tours

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Martin of Tours

CatholicSaints.Info – Martyrs of the First Ages – Saint Vincent, Deacon, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

Franciscan Media – Saint Martin of Tours

My Catholic Life – Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop

New Advent – Clugnet, L. (1910). St. Martin of Tours. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – Saint Martin of Tours

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Martin of Tours’ Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Martin of Tours (c.316-397)

Saint of the Day – November 11 St. Martin of Tours

uCatholic – Saint Martin of Tours

Wikipedia – Martin of Tours

Video Link

– YouTube Video (Catholic Online)

– YouTube Video (CatholicSaints.Info)