St. Martin of Tours - Martinmas


Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States, Remembrance Day in Canada and Australia, and Armistice Day in Europe. It is the day on which we commemorate the armistice of World War I that was signed in 1918 (on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, at the eleventh hour) that ended ‘the war to end all wars,’ which, unfortunately, it wasn’t. Today, our nations gratefully remember everyone who has served in the military.


Coincidentally, or perhaps providentially, it is also the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, soldier, and bishop. Martin was born in the fourth century in Hungary and became a member of the Roman cavalry, like his Father before him. As a young man, he converted to Christianity over the objections of his pagan parents.


Martin’s faith, however, permeated every part of his life, including his military service. The most famous story about him says that one day, as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens on his horse, he met a scantily clad beggar. The beggar asked for alms in the name of Christ, but Martin had nothing with him but the clothes on his back. He took out his sword, cut his military cloak in two, and gave half to the beggar. That night, St. Martin had a dream in which he saw Christ, clothed in the half cloak Martin had given away.


When his military service ended, Martin was ordained a priest and ministered to the faithful from a hermitage in the French countryside. His superiors soon had grander plans for him, but he was uninterested in becoming a bishop. He was so uninterested that the archbishop had to trick him into coming to the city (he was asked to come pray with a sick man). He reluctantly became the bishop of Tours in 371. He served faithfully and well and died at the age of eighty-one.


Suggestions to celebrate St. Martin of Tours

  • In the spirit of St. Martin sharing his cloak with a beggar, take some time to organize and clean out your coat closet. As winter is beginning, it is the perfect time to donate extra winter gear to friends or strangers.

  • As a dessert, serve cookies, but with the catch that you must break each of your cookies in half and give half of it away.

  • A lantern walk of any kind is very appropriate and fun. Kids can make homemade lanterns out of paper, tissue-paper-covered glass jars, or punched “tin” cans, or just get out the camping lanterns and go for an evening walk with those.


Punched-Tin-Can Lantern Craft

  • The night before the lantern making, remove the labels, wash the cans, fill them with water, and put them in the freezer.

  • The next day, plan a design, and sketch it on paper, or draw it directly on the can.

  • Remove the can from the freezer, tape the pattern around the can, if you are using a pattern, and wrap a towel around the part of the can you are not working on. The towel keeps the can from rolling and catches the ice chips.

  • Then use a hammer and an awl or a nail to punch holes in the can according to your pattern, about a quarter of an inch apart.

  • Punch two holes near the rim to attach a handle.

  • When you are finished punching holes, soak the cans in hot water until the ice comes out, and attach a wire handle. Put a votive candle in it, and you are all set to go!


The Cloak of St Martin Cake

Click below to see the recipe!

This would be a great recipe to use for cooking as a family.


Resources from: The Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney; Catholic Cuisine