Saint Martin of Tours and his coat


Public Domain
Saint Martin and the beggar – Van Dick – St Martin Church of Zaventem (Belgium) c. 1618

The story is known: Martin, soldier of the Roman Empire, having already given all the money he had to the poor, cut his coat in half to give a part to a needy he meets, cold frozen .

This momentous moment in the life of Saint Martin is only the beginning of a long life following Christ, during which he will create the first monastery of Gaul at Liguge, travel tirelessly, teaching, converting. Against his will, he will become bishop of Tours. And yet, no other event than that of the mantle will mark the spirits as much as this strong gesture. So much so that it became obvious to us, as it already was for those who preceded us, to recognize at first glance who helped to evangelize the Gallic campaigns in the IVe century. Other events of his life have been painted or sculpted, but no one has had the impact of it, making it a true catechesis of charity. And yet, Martin was only catechumen.

Read also:
Saint Martin, a man of fire in the service of evangelization!

But why did he give only half of his chlamys, his military coat? Would not the act have been more charitable if he had offered it whole without tearing? Because his military package belonged to him only partly, so he gave everything, everything that was his.

Public Domain
Book of Hours by Etienne Chevalier – Jean Fouquet – Louvre Museum – 15th century

According to the times, the clothes of Saint Martin, his equipment and his horse evolve, but permanences appear. He is sometimes in full swing, cutting the garment of his sword. He may also appear sheathing his weapon, once the poor protected from the cold. He sometimes seems more soldier, sometimes more apostle. But the saint is always on horseback, carrying this sword which served him to cut the stuff. And always looking at the one he saved from certain death. The gesture is strong, but Martin does not forget the man who is in front of him.

CC BY-SA 3.0
Saint-Pierre chapel, Saulges (Mayenne) – Polychrome wood – 16th century.

Even today, Martin is present in our country: 246 municipalities bear his name and more than 3700 churches are placed under his name: countless opportunities to cross a statue, a painting or a stained glass window depicting this soldier of Christ on his horse. Not to mention that its influence has also greatly exceeded our borders.

Stained Glass Cathedral of Chartres

Saint Martin, generous soldier of Jesus Christ,
Saint Martin, perfect model of the warriors,
Saint Martin, who knew how to despise the goods and pleasures of the world,
Saint Martin, who is still only a catechumen, you are stripped of a part of your clothes, to cover a poor,
Saint Martin, who has been a model of sobriety and abstinence,
Saint Martin, who spoke only of Jesus Christ,
Saint Martin, angel of peace,
Saint Martin, pray for us.

Read also:
Martin de Tours, the first modern saint

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