Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Martin of Tours

Commemoration of Martin of Tours, Pastor
Veterans Day
November 11, 2009

The Lord be with you

On the Church Year Calendar used in the LCMS, today recognizes Martin of Tours. He was born into a pagan family in what is now Hungary around 316 AD. He died November 9, 397 and was buried November 11. Martin grew up in Lombardy (Italy). Coming to the Christian faith as a young person, he began a career in the Roman army. But sensing a call to a church vocation, Martin left the military and became a monk, affirming that he was “Christ’s soldier.” Eventually, Martin was named bishop of Tours in western Gall (France). He is remembered for his simple lifestyle and his determination to share the Gospel throughout rural Gall, traveling extensively. He was a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers and a champion of the biblical doctrines of the Trinity and the Divine and human natures of Jesus, battling the Arianism of the Visigothic nobility.

As today is also Veterans Day, people might be interested in another little tidbit about Martin of Tours. During the Middle Ages, the relic of St. Martin’s cloak, (cappa Sancti Martini), conserved at the Marmoutier Abbey, near to Tours, became one of the most sacred relics of the Frankish kings. It would be carried everywhere the king went, even into battle, as a holy relic upon which oaths were sworn. The cloak is first attested in the royal treasury in 679, when it was conserved at the palatium of Luzarches, a royal villa that was later ceded to the monks of Saint-Denis by Charlemagne, in 798/99. The priest who cared for the cloak in its reliquary was called a cappellanu, and ultimately all priests who served the military were called cappellani. The French translation is chapelains, which is where the English word, "chaplain" derives from. One of the many services a chaplain can provide is spiritual and pastoral support for military service personnel by performing religious services at sea or in the battlefield.

Incidentally, on St. Martin’s Day in 1483, the one-day-old son of Hans and Margarette Luther was baptized and given the name “Martin” Luther.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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