Saint Martin of Tours
Saint Martin of Tours, patron saint of Saint Martin's
University, figures prominently in the development of Christianity
in fourth-century Europe. During his lifetime, Martin
established about 3,500 churches.
Although his youth was spent as a cavalryman in the Roman
army, he longed for something more. He horrified his father, a
tribune in the army, by studying to become a Christian.
Legend has it that Martin, while still a soldier, chanced
upon a shivering beggar clutching his rags about him in the
bitter cold one day. Martin cut his flowing cavalry cloak in two
and gave half to warm the beggar. Some time thereafter, Martin
had a vision in which the beggar revealed himself to be the Lord
Jesus Christ. Soon after, Martin obtained a discharge from the
As a free man, he began his commitment to Christianity in
earnest, studying under famous scholars and teachers of the era. For
many years, he preached and evangelized throughout the countryside,
while he helped the poor and the sick. His reputation for holiness
attracted other monks, and they formed what would become the
Benedictine abbey of Liguge.
Soon, he was considered the holiest man in France. Although he
was sought as a bishop, he chose to remain a missionary until 371,
when the people of Tours, France, prevailed on him to become bishop.
Even as a bishop, he continued to live a life of humility and
compassion. Saint Martin's Abbey and College take their name from
this illustrious patron.