Saint Martin of Tours was born in in Savaria, Pannonia (now Hungary) in either the year 316 or 336 AD. His father, a high-ranking officer in the Imperial Horse Guard, was assigned to a post at Ticinum, in northern Italy, where the young Martin grew up.
Just before Martin was born, Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire and could be practiced and proclaimed openly. The bloody persecution of Christians had ended. The Gospel message soon flourished in the Roman empire. At the age of 10, Martin chose to respond to the call of the Gospel and become a Christian, even though his parents had been pre-Christian pagans.
At the age of fifteen, followed his father into the Roman cavalry, and he served in Gaul, Milan, and Treves. As a young soldier, Martin encountered a beggar in Amiens. The beggar was unclothed and it was very cold. Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, he cut it in half. He gave this half to the beggar and dressed himself in the remnant.
That night, Martin had a vision in which Christ appeared to him. The vision spoke to him, “Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me.” A catechumen is one who is being instructed in the Christian faith. In the early centuries of Christianity, that was a long process of instruction – and Martin was deeply dedicated to it.
About the age of 20, Martin made clear to his superiors that he would no longer fight, following his formed Christian conscience. He then traveled to Tours where he began studying under doctor of the Church Hilary of Poitiers.
Martin established a monastery which would be inhabited by the Benedictines. Established in 361, the Liguge Abbey was destroyed during the French Revolution, then was reestablished in 1853 and remains to this day. From his abbey, Martin worked to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism into His Church in the surrounding areas. He was an extraordinary evangelist and later Bishop.
Many miracles and the casting out of demons were attributed to Martin during his lifetime.
Saint Martin is the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers. Many locations across Europe have also been placed under his patronage. His feast is on November 11. He commonly appears on horseback and is shown cutting his cloak in half with a sword.