Saint Martin was born in Germany around 316 AD, that means 1,704 years ago. And yet, his personality still lives on! Along the years, a number of legends, where Martin is depicted as the hero, surrounded this saint. These legends illustrate holy and remarkable qualities of this personality that stood the passing of time.
He followed his father, a Roman tribune, to Italy and as was expected from a tribune’s son, he enrolled in the Roman army when he was fifteen years old. He was drawn to the Catholic Faith and although his parents were pagan, he started attending a Christian church when he was ten years old. He became a catechumen, that means a candidate in preparation to be baptised.
When he was eighteen years old, he was baptised and refused to continue being a soldier in the Roman army. He said that as a soldier of Christ, it was not lawful for him to fight. He became a monk, and later a Bishop of Tours, but he still lived in a small cell, a short distance from Tours. The celebrated legend of the cloak and other anecdotes portray Martin as a holy person who took care of the sick, the hungry, the poor, the outcasts. He travelled and preached for the conversion to Christianity so that instead of fighting as a soldier, he fought against those who spoke against the Christian Faith.
In the anecdote of St. Martin’s Cloak, Martin did not give away something that he did not need. He gave the poor beggar something that he still needed, indeed he gave away a symbol of his status as a Roman soldier.
Explore with the children what they are ready to share, something that is close to heart! This can vary from toys and sweets (for the little ones) to other meaningful factors like: time to give attention to others, time to care, to listen (to other members of the family, to loners), sharing time on computer/laptop, sharing notes with friends who had missed out on school
In the dream following the sharing of Martin’s cloak, Jesus declared that Martin had shared his cloak with Jesus Himself!
Prepare beforehand the quotation from St. Matthew (Mt. 25, 35-40). Read out at least one line:
“I was hungry and you gave me to eat”
“ Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me”
Saint Martin was a soldier and once, he was travelling and saw a poor, old beggar shivering with cold. Saint Martin pitied him and he gave him half of his cloak. After some time, he was baptized and became a priest. Saint Martin started to evangelise even in rural areas, while helping the poor.