Martin of Tours, St.

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Monk and bishop of Tours (371 to 397), patron of France; b. Sabaria (Szombathely, Hungary), c. 316; d. Candes, Nov. 8, 397. The assertion of Sulpicius Severus [Dialogues 1 (2).7] that he was a septuagenarian when he visited Emperor Maximus at Trier (c. 385), taken with that of Gregory of Tours (Historia Francorum 1.36), who dates his birth in the 11th year of the Emperor Constantine (counting from July 306), suggests that he was born c. 316317, though scholars differ in the matter of Martinian chronology. Martin's pagan parents reared him in Pavia, Italy, and he became a catechumen; at 15 he took the military oath and at 18 (c. 334335) received Baptism (Sulpicius Severus, Vita 2.3). While one interpretation limits Martin's soldierly career to 5 years, the Vita supports the view that it was julian the apostate (Caesar, 355360) who gave him his discharge at Worms in 356.

hilary of poitiers (c. 350367) ordained Martin an exorcist following his discharge (Vita 5). Hilary's exile (356360) by Arian Emperor constantius ii (353361) paralleled Martin's visit to his parents and his activity against arianism in the Illyrian province, after which he embraced the monastic life, first at Milan and later on the island of Gallinaria (Vita 5.6).

Upon Hilary's restoration to his see, Martin returned to France, where at Ligugé, 8 kilometers south of Poitiers, he established c. 360361 what may have been the first French monastery (Vita 7). Thence, drawn by a ruse to tours, he was consecrated bishop, probably on July 4, 371 (Vita 9; Historia Francorum 1.48; 2.14; 10.31). For a time the new bishop resided at his cathedral, until with 80 disciples he reassumed a monastic way of life at Marmoutier outside Tours (Vita 10) and established rural parishes (Historia Francorum 10.31). Occasionally consulted by Emperor Maximus (383388) at Trier [Dialogues 1 (2).5, 6], Martin received a pledge from him that priscillian, following his appeal from the synod of Bordeaux (384), would not be executed. Priscillian, however, was put to death (fall 386), and Martin broke communion with Bishop Ithacius and the Spanish bishops until he received a promise that measures against the Priscillianists would be dropped. Martin joined Ithacius at the consecration of Bishop Felix of Trier (c. 386387), though afterward he reproached himself for weakness [Dialogues 2 (3).1113]. He died on a pastoral visitation at Candes; three days later, a vast crowd of mourners attended the burial at Tours (Historia Francorum 1.48; 2.14; Sulpicius Severus, Epistles 3). His successor, Bishop Brice (397c. 444), erected a small chapel that was replaced during the pontificate of Perpetuus (461491) by a more pretentious edifice (Historia Francorum 10.31). Relics were dispersed three timesin the 9th century, in 1562, and in 1793before the rediscovery of the saint's tomb on Dec. 14, 1860. The confessio formerly attributed to him is not considered authentic.

Feast: Nov. 11.

Bibliography: Clavis Patrum latinorum, ed. e. dekkers 1748a. Bibliotheca hagiographica latina antiquae et mediae aetatis 561066. sulpicius severus, Vita s. Martini, ed. c. halm (Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 1; 1866). gregory of tours, Historia Francorum, 1:3638, 43 (Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum 1.1; 1884). e. c. babut, Saint Martin de Tours (Paris 1913). h. delehaye, "Saint Martin et Sulpice Sévère," Analecta Bollandiana 38 (1920) 5136. É. griffe, La Gaule chrétienne à l'époque romaine (Paris 1947) 1:199220; "La chronologie des années de jeunesse de s. Martin," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 62 (1961) 114118. L'Année Martinienne à Tours, Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 47 (1961), memorial issue. j. fontaine, "Chronologie," S. Martin et son temps (Studia anselmiana 46; 1961) 189236.

[h. g. j. beck]

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Martin of Tours, St.

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