Tomorrow, Monday, November 8, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show to discuss the upcoming celebrations of the feast of Saint Martin of Tours, Armistice Day (in Europe) and Veterans Day (in the USA). Please listen live on EWTN Radio or on your local EWTN affiliate at my usual time, 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. You should have all your clocks set correctly for Daylight Savings Time by then!
St. Martin of Tours is the first non-martyr saint canonized by the Church before there really was a process for canonization. He is a confessor for Christ. He is best known and most frequently depicted as a soldier mounted on a horse, handing half of his cloak to a beggar. (El Greco pictures him as a 16th century Spaniard.) After his conversion, brought about by a visit from Jesus revealing Himself to have been that beggar, Martin left the Roman army, became a hermit, and eventually was ordained priest and bishop. We have an early life written by Sulpicius Severus, who knew him! Martin was born in Pannonia, which is now in Hungary, in 316 or 336 A.D. and had become a catechumen in the Church--when the preparation for receiving the Sacraments of the Initiation took much longer than it does now--before he began to serve the Emperor Julian (Julian the Apostate) in the Roman army.
Martin finally decided he had to chose between Jesus and Julian and he chose Jesus and refused to fight in a battle in Germany. He was jailed and offered to go unarmed at the head of the troops into battle but because there was peace treaty, was allowed to leave the army.
St. Martin upheld the Church's true doctrine about the Divine Person of Jesus Christ, opposing the Arians and supporting St. Hilary of Poitiers against those heretics. Martin established monasteries: Liguge Abbey and Marmoutier Abbey near Tours; he really wanted to live as a hermit or monk but was selected as the bishop of Tours in 371; he died on November 8, 397 and his cult spread quickly.
More about Martinmas, one of those feasts that anchored the Medieval year in custom and liturgical observance:
Famous for his generosity towards a drunken beggar, with whom he shared his cloak, St Martin is the patron saint of beggars, drunkards and the poor. As his feast day falls during the wine harvest in Europe, he is also the patron saint of wine growers and innkeepers.
As Martinmas coincided with the gathering in of the harvest, during the Middle Ages it was a time for feasting, to celebrate the end of autumn and the start of preparations for winter. Martlemass beef, salted to preserve it for the winter, was produced from cattle slaughtered at this time. Traditionally, goose and beef were the meats of choice for the celebrations, along with foods such as black pudding and haggis.