BISHOP AND CONFESSOR
When a mere boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents’ wish; and at fifteen was therefore seized by his father, a pagan soldier, and enrolled in the army. One winter’s day, when stationed at Amiens, he met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having no money, he cut his cloak in two and gave him the half. That night he saw Our Lord clothed in the half cloak, and heard Him say to the angels: “Martin, yet a catechumen, hath wrapped Me in this garment.” This decided him to be baptized, and shortly after he left the army. He succeeded in converting his mother; but, being driven from his home by the Arians, he took shelter with St. Hilary, and founded near Poitiers the first monastery in France. In 372 he was made Bishop of Tours. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan in heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves, and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people, whence he is known as the Apostle of Gaul. His last eleven years were spent in humble toil to atone for his faults, while God made manifest by miracles the purity of his soul.
St. Mennas, Martyr
(a.k.a. Minas, Menas, Mena, Mina)
285 – 309
St. Mennas Martyr and Wonder-worker, is one of the most well-known Egyptian saints in the East and the West, due to the many miracles that are attributed to his intercession and prayers. Mina was an Egyptian soldier in the Roman army, martyred because he refused to recant his Christian faith. After spending five years as a hermit, Mina saw in a revelation the angels crowning the martyrs with glamorous crowns, and longed to join those martyrs. While he was thinking about it, he heard a voice saying: “Blessed are you Mina because you have been called to the pious life from your childhood. You shall be granted three immortal crowns; one for your celibacy, another for your asceticism, and a third for your martyrdom.” Mina subsequently hurried to the ruler, declaring his Christian faith. His endless sufferings and the tortures that he went through, have attracted many of the pagans, not only to Christianity, but also to martyrdom.
Relics – The soldiers who executed Mina set his body on fire for three days but the body remained unharmed. Mina’s sister then bribed the soldiers and managed to carry the body away. She embarked on a ship heading to Alexandria, where she placed the saint’s body in a church. When the time of persecution ended, during the papacy of Pope Athanasius of Alexandria, an angel appeared to the Pope and ordered him to load Mina’s body on a camel and head towards the Western Desert. At a certain spot near a water well at the end of Lake Mariout, not far from Alexandria, the camel stopped and wouldn’t move. The Christians took this a sign from God and buried Mina’s body there.
From the Liturgical Year – Dom Guéranger
Three thousand six hundred and sixty churches dedicated to St. Martin in France alone, and well-nigh as many in the rest of the world, bear witness to the immense popularity of the great * thaumaturgus In the country, on the mountains, and in the depth of forests; trees, rocks, and fountains, objects of superstitious worship to our pagan ancestors, received, and in many places still retain, the name of him who snatched them from the dominion of the powers of darkness to restore them to the true God. For the vanquished idols, Roman, Celtic, or German, Christ substituted their conqueror, the humble soldier, in the grateful memory of the people. Martin’s mission was to complete the destruction of paganism, which had been driven from the towns by the martyrs but remained up to his time master of the vast territories removed from the influence of the cities.
While on the one hand he was honored with God’s favors, on the other he was pursued by hell with implacable hatred. At the very outset he had to encounter Satan, who said to him: ‘ I will beset thy path at every tum, and he kept his word. He has kept it to this very day: century after century, he has been working ruin around the glorious tomb which once attracted the whole world to Tours: in the sixteenth, he delivered to the flames, by the hands of the Huguenots, the venerable remains of the protector of France; by the nineteenth, he had brought men to such a height of folly, as themselves to destroy, in time of peace, the splendid basilica which was the pride and the riches of their city. The gratitude of Christ and the rage of Satan, made known by such signs, reveal sufficiently the incomparable labours of the pontiff, apostle, and monk, St. Martin.
A monk indeed he was, both in desire and in reality, to the last day of his life. ‘From earliest infancy he sighed after the service of God. He became a catechumen at the age of ten, and at twelve he wished to retire to the desert; all his thoughts were engaged on monasteries and churches. A soldier at fifteen years of age, he so lived as even then to be taken for a monk. After a first trial of religious life in Italy, he was brought by St. Hilary to this solitude of Liguge, which, thanks to him, became the cradle of monastic life in Gaul. To say the truth, Martin, during the whole course of his life, felt like a stranger everywhere else except at Liguge. A monk by attraction, he had been forced to be a soldier, and it needed violence to make him a bishop: and even then he never relinquished his monastic habits. He responded to the dignity of a bishop, says his historian, without declining from the rule and life of a monk.’ At first he constructed for himself a cell near his church of Tours; and soon afterwards built, at a little distance from the town, a second Liguge, under the name of Marmoutier, or the great monastery.
The holy liturgy refers to St. Hilary the honor of the wonderful virtues displayed by Martin.’ What were the holy bishop’s reasons for leading his heaven-sent disciple by ways then so little known in the West he has left us to learn from the most legitimate heir of his doctrine as well as of his eloquence. ‘It has ever been,’ says Cardinal Pie, ‘ the ruling idea of all the saints that, side by side with the ordinary ministry of the pastors, obliged by their functions to live in the midst of the world, the Church has need of a militia, separated from the world and enrolled under the standard of evangelical perfection, living in self-renunciation and obedience, and carrying on day and night the noble and incomparable function of public prayer. The most illustrious pontiffs and the greatest doctors have thought that the secular clergy themselves could never be better fitted for spreading and making popular the pure doctrines of the Gospel, than if they could be prepared for their pastoral office by living either a monastic life, or one as nearly as possible resembling it. Read the lives of the greatest bishops both in East and West, in the times immediately preceding or following the peace of the Church, as well as in the Middle Ages: they have all, either themselves at some time professed the monastic life, or lived in continual contact with those who professed it. Hilary, the great Hilary, had, with his experienced and unerring glance, perceived the need; he had seen the place that should be occupied by the monastic Order in Christendom, and by the regular clergy in the Church. In the midst of his struggles, his combats, his exile, when he witnessed with his own eyes the importance of the monasteries in the East, he earnestly desired the time when, returning to Gaul, he might at length lay the foundations of the religious life at home. Providence was not long in sending him what was needful for such an enterprise: a disciple worthy of the master, a monk worthy of the bishop.’
On another occasion, comparing St. Martin, his predecessors, and St. Hilary himself, in their common apostolate of Gaul, the illustrious Cardinal says: ‘ Far be it from me to undervalue all the vitality and power already possessed by the religion of Jesus Christ in our divers provinces, thanks to the preaching of the first apostles, martyrs, and bishops, who may be counted back in a long line almost to the day of Calvary. Still I fear not to say it: the popular apostle of Gaul, who converted the country parts, until then almost entirely pagan. The founder of national Christianity, was principally St. Martin. And how is it that he, above so many other great bishops and servants of God, holds such pre-eminence in the apostolate? Are we to place Martin above his master Hilary? With regard to doctrine, certainly not; and as to zeal, courage, holiness, it is not for me to say which was greater, the master’s or the disciple’s. But what I can say is, that Hilary was chiefly a teacher, and Martin was chiefly a thaumaturgus.
Now, for the conversion of the people the thaumaturgus is more powerful than the teacher; and consequently, in the memory and worship of the people, the teacher is eclipsed and effaced by the thaumaturgus. ‘Nowadays there is much talk about the necessity of reasoning in order to persuade men as to the reality of divine things: but that is forgetting Scripture and history; nay, more, it is degenerating. God has not deemed it consistent with His majesty to reason with us. He has spoken; He has said what is and what is not; and as He exacts faith in His word, He has sanctioned His word. But how has He sanctioned it? After the ‘ manner of God, not of man; by works, not by reasons. Not only did Christ work miracles, but He established the Faith upon the foundation of miracles. And the same Christ-not to confirm His own miracles, which are the support of all others; but out of compassion for us, who are so prone to forgetfulness, and who are more impressed by what we see than by what we hear-the same Jesus Christ has placed in His Church, and that for all time, the power of working miracles. Our age has seen some, and will see yet more. The fourth century witnessed in particular those of St. Martin.
The working of wonders seemed mere play to him; all nature obeyed him; the animals were subject to him. “Alas!” cried the saint one day: “the very serpents listen to me, and men refuse to hear me.” Men, however, often did hear him. The whole of Gaul heard him; not only Aquitaine, but also Celtic and Belgic Gaul. Who could resist words enforced by so many prodigies? In all these provinces he overthrew the idols one after another, reduced the statues to powder, burnt or demolished all the temples, destroyed the sacred grove. And all the haunts of idolatry. Was it lawful? You may ask. If I study the legislation of Constantine and Constantius, perhaps it was. But this I know: Martin, eaten up with zeal for the house of the Lord, was obeying none but the Spirit of God. And I must add that against the fury of the pagan population Martin’s only arms were the miracles he wrought, the visible assistance of angels sometimes granted him, and, above all, the prayers and tears he poured out before God, when the hard-heartedness of the people resisted the power of his words and of his wonders. With these means Martin changed the face of the country. Whence he found scarcely a Christian on his arrival, he left scarcely an infidel at his departure. The temples of the idols were immediately replaced by temples of the true God; for, says Sulpicius Severns, as soon as he had destroyed the homes of superstition, he built churches and monasteries. It is thus that all Europe is covered with sanctuaries bearing the name of St. Martin.
His beneficial actions did not cease with his death; they alone explain the uninterrupted concourse of people to his holy tomb. His numerous feasts in the year, the Deposition the Ordination, Subvention, and Reversion, did not weary the piety of the faithful. Kept everywhere as a holiday of obligation, and bringing with it the brief return of bright weather known as St. Martin’s summer, November II rivalled St. John’s day in the rejoicings it occasioned in Latin Christendom. Martin was the joy of all, and the helper of all.
St. Gregory of Tours does not hesitate to call his blessed predecessor the ‘ special patron of the whole world.
Feast of St. Martin – (Martinmas)
St. Martin’s Feast is considered the first day of Winter for practical purposes, so, alluding to the snows of that season, the Germans say that “St Martin comes riding on a white horse.” Of course, it might not feel like Winter if one is experiencing a “St. Martin’s Summer” — the equivalent of an “Indian Summer.” It is said, too, that one can predict what sort of Winter one will have by the conditions of St. Martin’s Day: “If the geese at Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas.”
The Feast coincides not only with the end of the Octave of All Souls, but with harvest time, the time when newly-produced wine is ready for drinking, and the end of winter preparations, including the butchering of animals (an old English saying is “His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog,” meaning “he will get his comeuppance” or “everyone must die”). Because of this, St. Martin’s Feast is much like the American Thanksgiving (celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November) — a celebration of the earth’s bounty. Because it also comes before the penitential season of Advent, it is seen as a mini “carnivale” with all the feasting and bonfires. As at Michaelmas on 29 September, goose is eaten in most places (the goose is a symbol for St. Martin himself. It is said that as he was hiding from the people who wanted to make him Bishop, a honking goose gave away his hiding spot), but unlike most Catholics, those of Britain and Ireland prefer pork or beef on this day.
Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop and Confessor (Martinmas Day) with a Commemoration of St Mennas.
Missa – Statuit ei Dominus
INTROIT: Ecclus. 45: 30; Psalm 131: 1
Statuit ei Dominus testamentum pacis, et principem fecit eum: ut sit illi sacerdotii dignitas in æternum.
Ps. Memento Domine, David: et omnis mansuetudinus ejus.
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace, and made him a prince: that the dignity of priesthood should be to him for ever.
Ps. O Lord, remember David: and all his meekness.
Glory be to the Father.
O Lord God, who seest that we put not our trust in anything that we do: mercifully grant; that, by the intercession of blessed Martin, thy Confessor and Bishop, we may be defended against all adversity. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord…
Second Collect – Commemoration of St. Mennas
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that we, who venerate the birthday of blessed Mennas, Thy Martyr, may, through his intercession, be strengthened in the love of Thy name. Through Jesus Christ…
EPISTLE: Ecclesiasticus 44: 16-27; 45: 3-20
Behold, a great priest, who in his days pleased God, and was found just; and in the time of wrath he was made a reconciliation. There was not found the like to him who kept the law of the most High. Therefore by an oath the Lord made him to increase among his people He gave him the blessing of all nations, and confirmed His covenant upon his head. He acknowledged him in His blessings; He preserved for him His mercy; and he found grace before the eyes of the Lord. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him a crown of glory. He made an everlasting covenant with him, and gave him a great priesthood: and made him blessed in glory. To execute the office of the priesthood, and to have praised in His name, and to offer him a worthy incense for an odor of sweetness.
GRADUAL Ecclesiasticus 44: 16
Behold a great priest, who in his days pleased God. There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most High.
Alleluia. Alleluia. That blessed man, St Martin, the bishop of the city of Tours, hath entered into his rest: to welcome him came forth the Angels and Archangels, the Thrones, the Dominations, and the Virtues. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 11: 33-36
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: No man lighteth a candle, and putteth it in a hidden place, nor under a bushel; but upon a candlestick, that they that come in, may see the light. The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body will be lightsome: but if it be evil, thy body also will be darksome. Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee, be not darkness. If then thy whole body be lightsome, having no part of darkness; the whole shall be lightsome; and as a bright lamp, shall enlighten thee.
OFFERTORY Psalm 88: 25
My truth and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
Hallow, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, these gifts, which we offer on the festival of Thy holy Bishop Martin: that through them our life may always be guided both in prosperity and in adversity. Through Jesus Christ…
Second Secret – Commemoration of St Mennas
Accept, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our offerings and prayers; both cleanse us by these heavenly mysteries and graciously hear us. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
SANCTUS, SANCTUS, SANTCTUS Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria Tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
COMMUNION: Matthew 24: 46-47
Blessed is that servant, whom when his Lord shall come he shall find watching: amen I say to you, he shall place him over all his goods.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that through the intercession of the Saints, the Sacraments we have celebrated on their festival may avail us unto salvation. Through Jesus Christ…
Second Postcommunion – Commemoration of St Mennas
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our God, that we, who in this life joyfully assist in the commemoration of Thy saints, may hereafter rejoice in beholding them forever in Heaven. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God.