Legend of St. Martin

Martin was the son of a Roman tribune in Savaria, today’s Szombathely in Hungary. He spent his childhood with his father in a military garrison in Pavia. Against his will, he was conscripted into the Imperial Guard. In the middle of winter, he found himself at the door of the city of Amiens in Gaul and met a poor beggar, who asked him for alms. With no money and seeing that the beggar was cold, he cut off the half of his military mantle and gave it to the poor man. The next night he had a dream in which he saw the Lord himself, dressed in half a mantle, who told him: "Martin gave me this mantle."

Martin as a Roman knight had a slave whom he treated as if he was his brother; he even cleaned the slave’s shoes. Martin was ordained as the exorcist after completing military service. He then returned home to Pannonia, where he christened his mother. After that he went to Milan, where he led a spiritual fight against heretical Arians. He became involved in this fight, defending faith in the name of Christ. For this reason, he was banished from Milan and took refuge in the province of Liguria. He did not stay there for a long time; he went to the Poitiers, in Gaul, and there he surrendered to the contemplative life in a monastery. He was elected bishop of the city of Tours in the year 370. People said about him "that he was forced to be a soldier, fulfilling his duty as a bishop, and lived as a monk by his own choice." His successor St. Gregory of Tours wrote a work about him and had a basilica dedicated to St. Martin’s glory.

As a bishop, Martin evangelized the Gauls, did charity work and tried to calm the spirits within the Church, he resisted against interference of the civil authorities in purely ecclesiastical affairs. He was always close to the poor and persecuted. He had opponents within the ranks of the clergy. He is the protector of France, winemakers, vine growers, soldiers, cavalry, recovered alcoholics, breeders of horses and geese, the Swiss Papal Guard, many places in Europe, including Beli Manastir in Croatia. In the Battle of Kőszeg among the few Croatian-Hungarian forces led by Nikola Jurisic against numerous Turkish armies, women and children were praying to St. Martin for help and soon the Turkish soldiers fled when they saw a horseman with a flaming sword. The St. Martin Memorial Day is on 11th November, which is also the town holiday in the city of Beli Manastir and this day is celebrated by it’s residents as St. Martins day in accordance with the customs and traditions.