A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

St. Martin of Tours

St Martin of Tours (Sanctus Martinus Turonensis) (316-97). Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican Communion Feast Day for the Hungarian Christian confessor and third Bishop of Tours, who grew up in northern Italy and is one of the most familiar and recognisable Christian saints in France. He served in the Roman cavalry in Gaul, where he used his military sword to cut his cloak in two to give half to a beggar clad only in rags in the depths of winter. Returning to Italy, Martin converted an Alpine brigand on the way and confronted the Devil himself. Expelled from Milan by the Arian Archbishop, he lived the solitary life of a hermit and his hermitage developed into the Fourth-Century Benedictine Ligugé Abbey, the oldest known monastery in Europe. He was consecrated in 371 as Bishop of Caesarodunum (Tours), being active in the suppression of the remnants of the Gallo-Roman religion and enthusiastically ordering the destruction of Pagan temples, altars and sculptures. When the Pagans agreed to fell their sacred fir tree, he stood directly in its path in the manner of the Roman poet Horace and it miraculously missed him. He withdrew from the city to live across the Loire in Marmoutier, in the Majus Monasterium monastery he founded in 372 as one of the most influential establishments in medieval France. Martin died on 8 November 397 at Candes 35 miles west of Tours and his shrine in Tours became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The part of the miraculous cloak (cappa Sancti Martini) that he had kept for himself became a famous relic in the monastery and was carried by the king into battle and all priests who served the military were called cappellani (chapelains, chaplains). The small temporary churches built for the relic were then called capella, all small churches later being referred to as chapels. Martin introduced a rudimentary parish system, with yearly visits to each of his parishes, and continued to set up monastic communities. Martin was so dedicated to the freeing of prisoners that the authorities refused to see him. It was at Tours that the scriptorium developed the clear hand that made manuscripts more legible. His shrine was destroyed by fire several times and ransacked by Norsemen in 853 and 903 but was rebuilt in the Tenth Century as a basilica for pilgrims and in 1453 the remains of St Martin were translated to a new reliquary. The veneration of Martin was popular in the Middle Ages and it was declared that: “Wherever Christ is known, Martin is honoured.” His shrine was sacked in 1562 by Protestant Huguenots and it was disestablished during the French Revolution, deconsecrated and demolished. His cult was revived in the French nationalism of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, when he was heralded as the patron saint of the French Third Republic. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodoxy, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism. Martin is the Patron of Baħrija, Malta, Batangas, Beli Manastir, Bocaue, Archdiocese of Bratislava, Buenos Aires, Bulacan, the Church Lads’ and the Church Girls’ Brigade, Dieburg, Edingen, Foiano della Chiana, Kortrijk, diocese of Mainz, Montemagno, Olpe, Ourense, Pietrasanta, Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart Burgenland, Pontifical Swiss Guards, Taal, Utrecht, Virje, Wissmannsdorf, Villadoz, beggars, cavalry, conscientious objectors, riders, geese, horses, hotel and inn-keepers, quartermasters, reformed alcoholics, riders, soldiers, tailors, vintners, wine growers and makers, against poverty and alcoholism. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.

EBK: St. Columba the Virgin

St Columba of Cornwall (Columb, dove). Feast Day for Sixth-Century Pagan Lothian royal Scottish virgin and martyr who became a Christian after the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, appeared to her in a vision, promising her love and blessings. After refusing marriage, she was imprisoned and tortured by her parents but an angel helped her escape, only to be tortured on the wheel and again imprisoned. Guided again by the angel, she finally escaped by sea to Trevelgvy (Trevelgue Head) north of Newquay in Cornwall. Her prospective father-in-law caught up with her at Ruthwas (Ruthvoes) ten miles west of Newquay and beheaded her. She was buried at St Columb Major two miles to the north. Traditions associated with her martyrdom include a spring gushing forth at the site of her execution, the blood-red colour of the soil at the site and a well at the site having water that would not boil. Venerated in Roman Catholicism, Anglican Communion and Eastern Orthodox Church. Major shrine St Columb Major. Alternative Feast Day 15 November. Patron of the Twelfth-Century churches of St Columba Major and St Columba Minor. Image: earlybritishkingdoms.com.

Armistice Day - National Army Museum

Armistice Day. Annual commemoration of the eleventh day of the eleventh month signing at 5:45 am by the Allied Supreme Commander, the French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, of the armistice ceasefire agreement (Armistice of Compiègne, Armistice de Compiègne, Waffenstillstand von Compiègne) with Germany at Compiégne, France. At 11:00 am Paris time on that 11 November 1918, the fighting ended and brought the war now known as World War I to a close. An annual High Street Weston Remembrance Parade assembles at Argos from 10:30 am and marches to Santander to arrive at 10:55 am, for a short Armistice Service with the Last Post bugle call and a two-minute silence at 11 am. Armistice Day is a commemoration of military and civilian servicemen and women lost in conflict, with short National Services of Remembrance and parades and commemorations throughout the Commonwealth with two minutes’ silences observed at 11 o’clock. In 1920, King George V first placed his wreath of red roses and bay leaves on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, where the two minutes’ silence was observed again today, as it was at the 11 November 1920 Cenotaph on Whitehall and across the UK. On the Centenary last year, a wreath still replicated the tribute but The Queen privately marked the Centenary in an earlier personal tribute, laying a bouquet of orchids and myrtle, the flowers of her wedding bouquet. This year, there was a special Act of Remembrance at 10:50 am in the Nave of Exeter Cathedral and on Saturday 13 November at 11:00 am there will be a Dedication of the Field of Remembrance on the Cathedral Green. Also on 13 November, from 5 to 8 pm, Clevedon Literary Festival is presenting a Remembrance event offering a chance to contemplate those we have lost and those who are often forgotten about. Tickets are free but require pre-booking from clevedonliteraryfestival.uk, Books On The Hill in Hill Road or Clevedon Community Bookshop in Copse Road. Until 20 November, Portbury Church Heritage Centre has a 2021 Armistice Commemoration display on the Village Green behind the War Memorial. The first display board lists those who lost their lives in the two world wars and are named on Portbury War Memorial. The second is of commemorative art by the local military artist Simon McCouaig, depicting the human contribution to the security of our nation over the past century. The third board recounts the bravery of a past Portbury resident who was awarded the George Medal for his contribution to anti-submarine warfare during the 1940 Battle of the Atlantic. During the past year, the Heritage Centre has exhibited on the Village Green for the VE75, VJ75 and the Battle of Britain 80th anniversary commemorations. On 11 November 1921, the first official Poppy Day was held, inspired by John McCrae’s 8 December 1915 poem In Flanders Fields. From 1919 until 1945, Armistice Day observance was always on 11 November itself. It was then moved to Remembrance Sunday, but since the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in 1995 it has become usual to hold ceremonies on both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, the latter now normally being the second Sunday in November. Image: armymuseum.co.nz.

Prayer Under your buffed Belgian marble darkness files past, head bowed amid drowsing poets, dozing saints and vigilant candle-sentries with stiff yellow flames, as tiptoeing royal brides in satin slippers dress and crown you with luminous flowers. You are the son we lost and your rest is ours. Amen