Today is the feast of St. Martin of Tours, a fourth-century bishop and patron saint of soldiers (the last point comes in handy for All Saints” Day parties). Many people especially love St. Martin because of this story that has been handed down through the ages:
Martin was a young soldier stationed in Amiens. On a cold winter day, he noticed near the gates of the city a poor, half-naked beggar. Martin was overwhelmed with compassion for this man. He proceeded to draw his sword and he cut his woolen cloak in half. He handed half to the freezing man and he put the remaining half over his shoulders. The half he kept, known as “St. Martin”s cloak,” was preserved for many centuries as a Christian relic.
That night, Martin dreamed that he saw Jesus wearing the half mantle he had given the beggar. He heard Jesus say, “Martin, as yet only a catechumen, has covered me with his cloak.” After this incident, he immediately went to be baptized. He then hastened to Poitiers where he became a disciple of St. Hilary, one of the greatest doctors of the Church of that era, and from there he became a bishop and one of the most beloved saints in the Church.
While St. Martin’s feast is always a cause for celebration because of his holiness and Christian witness, next year”s feast will be special for yet another reason: It will take place on 11/11/11.