Life of St Martin of Tours Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 904 words and 5 pages.

Life of St Martin of Tours

Josh Sagel


Following in the lines of Jerome and Athanasius, Sulpicius Severus composed a biography
of St. Martin of Tours. Concerned more with miracles and encounters with the devil rather
than a complete description of the monastic life, Life of Martin of Tours is a glimpse
into the nature of Christianity of the 4th Century.

Life of Martin of Tours gives a very brief view of Martin's life before he entered into
the service of God. Upon entering a church at the age of 10, he became so enamored that
he told his military father of his intent to become a churchman. Being the son of a
tribune, his wish would be granted only after a tour of duty in the army of the empire. It
is in the service of Julian that Martin truly learns of his destiny.

Late winter in the town of Amiens, Martin was approached by an almost nude beggar. Taking
his sword and cutting his cloak in half, Martin gave part of his clothing to the beggar.
The beggar appeared that night in a dream to Martin with the voice of God. According to
the dream, since he had helped the lowest element in society, he had really helped Jesus.
It is interesting to note in this section the variety of the terms used synonymous, in the
present day, with God. The time in which Martin was in the army is the same time that the
Arian controversy is dividing the Christian populace. Severus meant to show the many faces
of the Lord in composing this work, thereby showing both his own and Martin's adherence to

When Martin is called to into an impending battle with the barbarians in Gaul, he asks for
his discharge from none other Julian himself, at the time still Caesar. Because of his
devotion to God, Martin believes that is wrong to be involved in a battle. Julian, called
a tyrant by Severus, attributes this to cowardice and orders that he be forced to fight.
Martin, strong in his faith in God, decrees that he shall appear on the battlefield
unarmed and will remain untouched because of protection from God. Taken as a sign of
Martin's favor with Jesus, the barbarians come to ask for a peace before the next day's
battle. This sign is taken by all to symbolize the legitimacy of Martin's request to be
relieved of duty.

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