Saint Martin of Tours

11th November

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”

Discuss with the children: 

  • What does it mean to see Jesus in others? 
  • Is it difficult to see Jesus in other people? Why?

Lead them to realize that it is quite easy to see Jesus in those with whom we get on well, with those who show us love, with those who are kind to us. Accept their admission that it is difficult to see the face of Jesus in those with whom we do not agree or those we do not like or who make fun of us or even harm us. 

  • How can we overcome these reactions?  (This could lead to a dialogue about how to be assertive without slipping into anger and an urge to pay back) Jesus Himself will help us if only we ask Him for His help.)

Martin lived in a time when Christianity was not popular because a couple of years before, Christians were persecuted and not allowed to practise their faith. But Martin worked for the Conversion to Christianity.  He brought the “Light of Christ” to those who did not believe.

With the older children, you can discuss that even in our lives, in 2020, we need to spread our faith. Let them suggest their own ideas and lead them to realize that this can be done with our behaviour, with the way we speak, by not keeping back to speak in what we believe and in our religious practices.  

During family prayer time:
Let the children voice their concerns in personal prayer about themselves, striving to be more aware of the need of others, of others who need help. To accept others in love, for those who are still not enjoying the beauty of the Catholic Faith.

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. 

Sharing is Caring!

In Malta we have a tradition of having the ‘borża ta’ San Martin’ filled with oranges, walnuts, sweets, sweet bread etc… To truly celebrate St. Martin, make sure you share your things with your family. However, before sharing and eating, ask a priest to bless it and those who are going to eat from this bag.

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.