Ordinary Time: November 11th
Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, bishop; Veterans' Day (USA)
Old Calendar: St. Martin; St. Mennas, martyr ; Other Titles: Martinstag, Martini; Martinmas
Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, bishop. St. Martin is the first bishop and confessor honored by the Church in the West. He was a principal apostle of Gaul, where his feast was celebrated as a holyday of obligation with an octave and popular celebrations.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is also the commemoration of St. Mennas, an Egyptian soldier and martyr, put to death during Diocletian's reign (c. 295).
Veterans Day (USA), Remembrance Day (Canada)
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year 1918, an armistice was signed, ending the "war to end all wars." November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during the war in order to ensure a lasting peace. In 1938 Congress voted Armistice Day as a legal holiday, but World War II began the following year. Armistice Day was still observed after the end of the Second World War. In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill renaming the national holiday to Veterans Day. Today, we remember those who have served for our country in the armed forces in our prayers. For more information, read about Veterans Day.
St. Martin of Tours
St. Martin was born (c. 316) at Sabaria, a town in Pannonia near the famous Benedictine monastery dedicated to his name. Against the wishes of his parents he associated with Christians and became a catechumen at the age of ten. At fifteen he entered the army and served under the Emperors Constantius and Julian. While in the service he met a poor, naked beggar at the gates of Amiens who asked alms in Christ's Name. Martin had nothing with him except his weapons and soldier's mantle; but he took his sword, cut the latter in two, and gave half to the poor man. During the following night Christ appeared to him clothed with half a mantle and said, "Martin, the catechumen, has clothed Me with this mantle!"
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius ParschSt. Martin's feast, also known as "Martinmas" in Europe arrives in autumn, the beginning of the wine harvest. This was also the time of slaughter of the stock for winter meat. His images are usually depicted with a goose, symbolizing that Martinmas was the last festive meal before Advent, because in France in the Middle Ages, the strict 40 day Advent fast (called Quadragesima Sancti Martini or Forty Days' Fast of Saint Martin's) began the next day. So in past centuries November 11 was celebrated as a thanksgiving day. Thus it was the custom to have "St. Martin's goose" and taste the new wine ("Saint Martin's Wine") on his feast day. A quick spell of warm weather around his feast day (usually termed "Indian Summer" in the US) is known as "St. Martin's Little Summer" in Europe. Patron: Against impoverishment; against poverty; alcoholism; beggars; Burgenland; cavalry; equestrians; France; geese; horse men; horses; hotel-keepers; innkeepers; Mainz, Germany; quartermasters; reformed alcoholics; riders; soldiers; tailors; vintners; wine growers; wine makers.Symbols: Horse; sword and coat cut in halves; goose; scourge; hare; broken images; chair in flames; demon at his feet; globe of fire;
Often Portrayed As: Man on horseback sharing his cloak with beggar; man cutting cloak in half.Things to Do:
- Recite the Iste Confessor in honor of St. Martin.
- Cook a special dinner of roast goose or duck in honor of St. Martin. Bake some horseshoe cookies.
- In Europe this day is traditionally known as Martinmas. Many foods and traditions are connected with this day. See also Women for Faith and Family for more Catholic traditions.
- St. Martin is patron saint of wine growers, wine makers and vintners. In France, the tasting of the new wine is done today. Have a Martinmas gathering, serving this year's Noveau Beaujolais wine from France.
- Read Painting Angels, Saints and Their Symbols for a discussion about St. Martin's symbols in art.
- For more biographies and other information on St. Martin, read Catholics Saints Info.
- See the Life of St Martin as depicted in the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral (c.1220) here.
- The children will enjoy this dessert St. Martin's Horseshoes and you can learn more about customs for this feast.
- Read about the Real St. Martin of Tours by Jennifer Gregory Miller
St. Mennas, according to legend a Christian soldier from Egypt, left the Roman army during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian to go into the desert and do penance. On the Emperor's birthday, which the people celebrated with outdoor spectacles, he entered the theatre at Cotyaeum and openly mocked belief in pagan gods. He was seized and cruelly scourged by Pyrrhus, the official in charge. Tied to the rack, his whole body was burned with torches, brushed with thorns, torn with leaden whips. He was finally beheaded and his body thrown into the fire. Christians took what remained and gave it honorable burial. His grave, close to Alexandria, became such a famous place of pilgrimage that, as at Lourdes today, a whole town arose to accommodate the pilgrims. Many small phials or eulogia have been found there which show St. Mennas between two kneeling camels.
- Learn more about St. Mennas.
- God does not ask of us the heroic acts performed by the saints. They came directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit; we cannot imitate them in everything, but we can admire them and be confirmed in love and obedience toward God.