You may have noticed that a picture of a Roman Soldier figures prominently on our site but you may not know why. Well the soldier is none other than St. Martin himself who, as a young man, was required to do military service in the Roman Army.
Legend has it that while stationed in Gaul (modern-day France), he experienced a vision, which became the most-repeated story about his life. One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens, he met a scantily clad beggar. As giving away his whole military cloak would have resulted in the equivalent of a Court Martial he impulsively used his sword to cut his cloak in half to share with the man. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe." (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another version, when Martin woke, he found his cloak restored to wholeness. The dream confirmed Martin in his piety, and he was baptised at the age of 18.
Martin went on to become a great Bishop and his monastery at Tours was a beacon of light throughout the whole Christian world indeed Scotland has much to give thanks to St. Martin for as our very own St. Ninian spent much time learning from St. Martin and spending time with him. As my last church was St. Ninian's Ferguslie in Paisley I feel privileged to have followed the path trod by both these great saints.
At the start of this New Year, when there is much uncertainty about he future, let us learn the lesson of St. Martin to give what we can and to love with all our hearts.
May God richly bless you and yours in this New Year.