Read the stories about St Martin of Tours, one of the most popular saints in medieval and modern Europe
During his lifetime, St Martin was called upon as a venerable ascetic and bishop. Later, in the 6thcentury, he was turned into a local saint of Tours. Notwithstanding the primary identification of St Martin as a monk and not a soldier, he was soon recruited as a missionary and heroic saint, with whom warriors and soldiers might readily identify. As such he moved effortlessly through the missionary landscapes of the fringes of Europe – at first Gothic Italy and Frankish Gaul, later Anglo-Saxon England, Scandinavia and further into the Baltic Sea. Finally, in 10th century St Martin was officially posited as the prototype of a Christian knight. At the same time, however, he was deftly turned into a popular saint and protector of the poor. It is as such we know of him today.
St Martin of Tours may have started out as a career officer in the Roman Army. In the course of the next 1500 years, he was continuously recruited to play a panoply of different roles. As such, he has been a powerful prism of shifting times. In the end, though his role as a soldier was never entirely forgotten. It was no coincidence when the ceasefire was finally set on Armistice Day in 1918. After four years of untold suffering and wantonness, it was decided to be called at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, honouring the first conscientious objector of all times, Martin of Tours
The Charity of St. Martin by Jean Fouquet © Louvre /Source: wikipedia
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