Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov. 11 Also Celebrated in Medieval World

Today the U. S. celebrates its military men and women. Ironically, Nov. 11 was celebrated in the medieval world, as well. Why ironic? Well, the man who became St. Martin, for whom the day is named, originally served as a Roman soldier, but left to join the church. He eventually became Bishop of Tours--although he really didn't want to be :)

One of the traditions of St Martin is found in the many depictions of him as a soldier cutting his cloak in half to share with a beggar he found alongside the road. 
It is said that that night in a dream St. Martin saw the beggar actually was Christ, who announced that it was Martin, although  unbaptized, who had clothed him against the cold. Soon after, Martin went to be baptized. 

According to Sulpitius Severus in his On the Life of St. Martin, Martin was 20 years of age. He didn't retire from the Roman army at that time, however. Severus reports that he served out the rest of his time in the military because his commander promised to retire as well if Martin did so. Although he did stay in the army, he did not fight.
I'm visiting Karen Blake Hall today, talking about that and other significances of this month in the middle ages, and I though you might like to see just how and what the people would celebrate some 800 years ago.
And for more of Severus' account of St. Martin: http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/npnf2-11/sulpitiu/lifeofst.html#tp


  1. Thanks, Barbara. Another wonderful story. The late Roman empire is an area of history I think is often overlooked.

  2. Thank you for stopping by Chuck. And I so agree. We tend to focus on later periods, this the one you mention is fascinating.