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Who Was Saint Martin of Tours (a Patron Saint of Horses)?

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Saint Martin

Saint Martin of Tours sharing his cloak with a beggar in need

Photo copyright Sailko of a painting by Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo (circa 1500s)

Name:

Saint Martin of Tours (popularly known in Spanish-speaking nations as "San Martín Caballero" for his association with horses)

Lifetime:

316 - 397 in ancient Upper Pannonia (now Hungary, Italy, Germany and ancient Gaul (now France

Feast Day:

November 11th in some churches and November 12th in others

Patron Saint of:

Horses, equestrians, calvary soldiers, beggars, geese, poor people (and those who help them), alcoholics (and those who help them), people who run hotels, and people who make wine

Famous Miracles:

Martin was known to have many different prophetic visions that came true. People have also attributed many miracles of healing to him, both during his lifetime (when God reportedly healed a leper after Martin kissed him) and afterward, when people prayed to Martin in heaven to pray for their healing on Earth. During his lifetime, reportedly, three people were raised back to life from the dead (all in separate incidents) after Martin prayed for them.

A famous miracle related to horses in Martin's life happened when he was a soldier in the army in ancient Gaul (now France) riding a horse through a forest and encountered a beggar. Martin didn't have any money with him, so since he noticed that the beggar didn't have enough clothes to keep him warm, he used his sword to cut the heavy cloak that he was wearing in half to share with the beggar. Later, Martin had a miraculous vision of Jesus Christ wearing the cloak.

Martin spent a lot of time talking with pagans about Christianity, trying to inspire them to worship the Creator rather than the creation. One time he convinced a group of pagans to cut down a tree that they had worshiped while Martin stood directly in the path of it falling, praying that God would miraculously rescue him to show the pagans that God's power was at work. The tree then miraculously swerved in mid-air to miss Martin when it fell to the ground, and all of the pagans who witnessed that event put their trust in Jesus Christ.

An angel once miraculously helped Martin convince an emperor in Germany to free a prisoner who had been condemned to death. The angel appeared to the emperor to announce that Martin was on his way to visit and ask the emperor to free the prisoner. After Martin arrived and presented his request, the emperor agreed because of the angel's miraculous appearance to him, which convinced him that it was important to help.

Biography:

Martin was born in Italy to pagan parents but discovered Christianity as a teen and converted to it. He served in the army of ancient Gaul (now France) as a teen and young man.

Through the years, Martin was persecuted for his Christian beliefs, but remained faithful to his convictions. He often began relationships with pagans (like his parents were) to tell them about Jesus Christ, and some of them (including his mother) converted to Christianity. Martin destroyed pagan temples and built churches on the sites of where the temples had been.

After the Bishop of Tours died, Martin reluctantly became the next bishop in 372 because he was the most popular choice of the people in the area. He founded a monastery called Marmoutier, where he focused on prayer and helping people in need until his death in 397.

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