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St Martin — patron saint of conscientious objectors

11 November 2007

St Martin of Tours is not well known in the Orthodox Church, but as a saint of the undivided church he deserves to be remembered. His feast day of 11 November (Russian tradition, 10 November in the Greek tradition) is also observed as Remembrance Day, for remembering those killed in wars, since it was Armistice Day in the First World War.

St_Martin_of_Tours1Martin was a soldier, but when he became a Christian he became a conscientious objector, and resigned his commission. His commanding officer accused him of cowardice, and so he offered to stand, unarmed, between the opposing sides on the battlefield. The Western Confucian has blogged this, with a suitable picture.

He had toyed with becoming a Christian for quite a long time, but had never been baptised. One winter day when he was riding his horse he saw a poor beggar shivering in the cold, and cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar. If the cloak was part of his military issue, we was destroying government property. But then he had a dream of Jesus saying to him “Only a catechumen has given me this cloak,” and he decided to be baptised.

Martin later became Bishop of Tours where he established one of the early instances of the parish system, with churches being established in rural villages, and priests being sent from the town to be responsible for their pastoral care.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 November 2007 12:47 am

    St Martin was the mentor of another of my favourite saint, St Ninian of Whithorn, the first missionary to what is now Scotland.


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