Feast of Saint Martin of Tours
November 11 was originally proclaimed Armistice Day, from the armistice that ended hostilities in World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of 11th month, in 1918. Later, Congress in 1954 changed the observance to include all veterans, and so Veterans Day.
November also is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint of soldiers. Martin was born in 316 in what is now Hungary. He was named after Mars, the Roman god of war by his father, a tribune (or colonel) in the Roman army.
When Martin was ten, he disappointed his parents by taking instruction as a catechumen. However at age 15, Martin made his father proud by joining the army. He was stationed in northern France.
One day, he passed a man freezing on the road. Martin immediately tore his military cloak in two and gave half to him. That night, in a dream he saw Jesus wearing that half cloak.
Martin saw more than a dream. He saw a lifelong calling to cloak the lowly and poor. Soon after, he was baptized and later his church drafted him into service as a bishop to…"rescue the lowly and the poor; and from the hand of the wicked deliver them." (Ps. 82)
Martin died Nov. 8, 397 and was buried Nov. 11.
On this day, Armistice Day, now Veterans Day and also St. Martin’s Day, we rightly remember and celebrate in gratitude all those men and women who have protected us with their military cloak.
Perhaps, armistice may be the best we can do. Hostilities cease for a while, only to erupt again. Meanwhile, the Lord continues to shiver in the winter of war, reminding us that he offers us, not the peace the world gives, the half cloak of a temporary armistice, but a true and lasting peace.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the ministry staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.