February 13, 2021

Commemoration of the Appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of Tours

On February 13, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates the appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of Tours.

From childhood, Saint Martin was known for his compassionate heart and great pity for the poor. When he was twenty-two years old, even before he was baptized, he began to give away all his possessions to those in need, and soon he was left with just one set of clothes and a knife.

Saint Martin, like many young men, had to serve in the army for several years. One day, while serving in Gaul, when the weather was very harsh and unusually cold, he met a man at the city gates of Amiens, almost naked, and begging for alms. Martin saw that people just walked past the man without taking any notice. Since Martin had already given away everything he owned, he had only his cloak and his uniform. No one else would help the beggar, so Martin felt that it was his responsibility to do something for him.

Recalling the Savior's words: "If anyone wishes to judge you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Matthew 5:40), Martin drew his sword and cut his cloak in two. Giving half to the beggar, he wrapped himself in the other half. Seeing him in the torn cloak, those standing by began to laugh at his strange appearance. Others, who had more sense, regretted the fact that they had done nothing for the man, although they could have clothed the beggar without uncovering themselves as Saint Martin did.

That night, in his sleep, Martin saw Christ wearing half of his cloak, which he had given the beggar. The Lord told him to look at Him and to notice that it was the same garment. Then the Savior said to the Angels who surrounded Him, "Martin is still just a catechumen, but he has clothed me in this garment."

Saint Martin did not become puffed up with pride because of this vision. Instead, he saw this as a sign of God's goodness, which confirmed Christ's words: "Truly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

Because Saint Martin gave alms throughout his life, he was rewarded with the gift of working miracles, after being baptized at the age of eighteen. Let us follow his example so that we might be granted a small corner of Paradise.

The part of the claok kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Merovingian kings of the Franks at the Marmoutier Abbey near Tours. During the Middle Ages, the supposed relic of Saint Martin's miraculous cloak (cappa Sancti Martini) was carried by the king even into battle, and used as a holy relic upon which oaths were sworn. The cloak is first attested to in the royal treasury in 679, when it was conserved at the palatium of Luzarches, a royal villa that was later ceded to the monks of Saint-Denis by Charlemagne, in 798/99. The structure in which the half-cloak was preserved was referred to as cappella (‘little cloak’), a term that came to be used widely for buildings that served to keep relics and from which the modern word ‘chapel’ is derived.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
In signs and in miracles you were renowned throughout Gaul. By grace and adoption you are a light for the world, O Martin, blessed of God. Almsgiving and compassion filled your life with their splendors, teaching and wise counsel were your riches and treasures, which you dispense freely to those who honor you.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As a devoted man of God, you proclaimed His mysteries, and as a seer of the Trinity, you shed your blessings on the Occident. By your prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise your memory.