The son of pagans, St. Martin was born c. 316 in Pannonia,
now Hungary or Austria. He is said to have followed his father's
profession as a soldier until he split his cloak to share it
with a beggar and learned in a dream that he had given it to
Christ. Martin thereafter saw himself as Christ's soldier and
requested resignation. Charged with cowardice, Martin was
imprisoned until 339. He travelled to Italy but was banished
when he upset the local Arians, who had quite a bit of power.
C. 360, he joined the exiled Hilary of Poitiers, who gave Martin
the land on which he established the first monastery in France at
Ligugé. About ten years later, Martin was acclaimed bishop
of Tours. He continued to live as a monk and established a monastery
at Marmoutier as
a retreat. He gained a reputation as a miracle-worker.
Martin opposed the teachings of Bishop Priscillian, who believed
that Christians should renounce all pleasure, and opposed the civil
authorities who tried the Spanish bishop for sorcery and heresy.
The matter was ecclesiastical, and the church's courts should try
Priscillian. Priscillian was put to death for heresy. Martin and
other clergy, among them Ambrose of Milan, opposed the death penalty
for magicians. After Martin's death (c. 396/397), he became one of
the most beloved of saints, and the story of the saint and the
beggar is a popular subject in art.
Life of St. Martin: It was Martin of Tours, more than anyone else, who
was responsible for spreading monasticism in Western Europe, and it was this biography,
written while the saint was still alive, which made Martin famous throughout the
Empire. Roberts translation, 1894. -- CCEL
A history of the world from Creation to the End Times. Portions
of this work were heavily criticized by other Christian writers for factual errors, and the
authenticity of the prophecies ascribed to St. Martin has often been questioned.