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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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French Hippie Saint

< img src=/"martin-main-image.jpg"alt="martinmain-image"/>

Not Your Average Holly Roller

He was a Soldier. He was a hippie. He was a Saint. And wherever you go in France, you’ll find a village and/or a church named after him. Saint Martin of Tours was his offical title. But owing to his constant pligrimmages, He was really Saint Martin of everywhere.

<img src=/"martin-sulpice-severe.jpg"alt="martinsulpice-severe"/>Our Saintly saga begins somewhere between 316 and 336. – according to Martin’s disciple Sulpice Severe. The only record keeper of the record of the birth of the Saint to be.

While the date of Martin’s earthly arrival is vague, we can be certain that he was the son of a Roman Legionnaire. And, bien sur, like any Papa, Martin Senior wanted Junior to join the family business. And for a while, he did.< img src=/"martin-legionnaire.jpg"alt="martin-legionnaire"/>

Marching To A Way Different Drummer

However, even during those years, it was clear that Martin was not cut from the same cloth as his fellow chariot jockeys. For example – as a member of the Imperial Guard, Martin was given a horse and a slave. Martin invited the slave to dine with all his Imperial homies. A few raised eyebrows. As you can well imagine.

But the incident that closed the door on Martin’s tour of duty was taking in a starving, partially frozen beggar during the Winter of 355.(An especially harsh one – as any French Winter historian will tell you.) While this naturally didn’t add any Gold stars to his soldierly report card, it was – so “legend has it” -the appearance of J.C. himself with his angel posse the next night at Martin’s bedside, that got him on a new “career path.”

Job Training

< img src=/"martin-saint-hilaire.jpg"alt="martinsaint-hilaire"/>Devout, diligent and caring as he obviously was, Martin felt he needed what everyone with more enthusiasm than experience needs – a mentor. Someone who’s “been there-done that”, and, hopefully is still doing it. (Successfully.) Saint Hilaire, the Eveque of Poitiers filled the bill. Giving Martin the inside scoop on all things Holy.

After filling himself with more of the Holy Spirit, Martin made attempted to visit his parents in Italy. No Way. Religious “discord” was the reason. He didn’t belong to the right club. So, he decamped to the island of Gallinara on what is now the Italian Riviera, for a little “r n’ r.” < img src=/"martin-river-clain.jpg"alt="martinriver-clain"/>

Back To The Lambs

Returning to France, Martin established a Hermitage along the river Clain, near Poitiers. (skill testing question : “The home base of what Saint?”) Here he did his Holy/Hermitey thing. Attracing like-minded followers, fans and facebook “likes.” (just wanted to make sure you were paying attention)

Unexpected Promotion

Soon, the word of Martin’s wonderfulness spread, and eventually he was invited to become the next Eveque of Tours. Martin turned them down. Additionally, because he had long hair(like the son of “you know who”) and didn’t have a tailor at the Vatican – the long knives of the established holies were out for him.

But a visit from a Tourangeau ( that’s a person of the city of Tours, folks)and a subsequent visit to a sick woman, eventually turned the tide. And changed his mind. And yea, verily, so it was in 371, that Martin succeeded Lidoine, as Eveque of Tours.

<img src=/"martin-good-heart.jpg"alt="martingood-heart"/>Happily, for the poor, sick, downtrodden and oppressed, Martin was NOT a couch potatoe. If he did indeed have an ivory tower in Tours, he was rarely in it. Shuffling through the land on his donkey,spreading his message of inter-denominational harmony, peaceful co-existence, and performing a miracle or three.

He also managed to found a number of Churches where he thought they were needed.. As well as another Hertimage at Marmoutier, near Tours.

The Last Roundup

Fittingly, it was yet another attempt to do good that was to prove fatal to Martin. After establishing Churchs/Hermitages in many areas near Tours, he paid a visit to a tiny Loire village to resolve a dispute within his clerical staff. It was his last visit. Martin died in that church on the 8th of November, 397.<img src=/"collegiale.jpg"alt="collegiale"/>

But of course, our story doesn’t end there. Alive – Martin was the Big Man On the Holy Campus. Dead – he was a Holy trophy. A symbol of the church’s charity and good works. The poster boy for religious harmony.

Sadly there was little harmony (or order) between the Holy “orders” of Tours and Poitier. Who both drooled over the prospect of having Martin entombed in their respective catacombs.< img src=/"martin-poitiers-cathedral.jpg"alt="martinpoitiers-cathedral"/>

Invasion Of The (Holy) Body Snatchers

And so it was in the dead of night(and isn’t that the best part?) that while the Poitier posse was snoozin’ – the Holy brigade from Tours, snatched Martin, and boated him back to Tours. Where he rests today.

However, there is no rest for the tiny village where he died. It has, understandably become a major stop on the Holy pilgrimmage circuit. Appropriately, it’s named “Candes St. Martin.

< img src/="candes-st-martin.jpg"alt="candesst-martin"/>


What are ya thinkin’?

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12 Responses to “French Hippie Saint”

  1. manny lanstrom says:

    Truly an unusual and interesting individual. Not the “garden variety” Saint we’ve come to expect. Well done!

  2. susan billtros says:

    Refreshing to know that generosity and the the peace ethic were not just elements of the ‘6O’s. The question now is : “how do we get them back?

  3. nick ventros says:

    we could use a st martin today, don’t you think?

  4. velma partridge says:

    On my visits to France, I’ve always wondered why there were so many villages with St. martin in the name. Now I know!

  5. paul valermos says:

    Judging from your last photo, looks like st martin picked a great stop to spend his final hours.

  6. josh spanner says:

    If this was a movie – who would play st martin?

  7. sanda jackovich says:

    re / Josh Spanners comment : “If this was a movie who would play st. martin?” my answer : Anybody but Brad Pitt!

  8. bill ebersole says:

    As you’re always telling us…French History, particularly it’s religious History is absolutely a case of “truth is stranger than fiction.” Here’s to truth!

  9. silvio marchese says:

    this is a very incredible and inspiring story. to learn of this man who all his life did everything he could, in every way, to help others. he is truly an example of how religious leaders should conduct themselves. thank you for sharing his story with us.

  10. harriet winters says:

    Although I enjoy all of your posts, I especially like the little “treasures” of French History you uncover and present. And always in a way that makes the people and the times come alive. Looking forward to more like this.

  11. ian watson says:

    As a student of French Religious history, I commend you for an accurate and very reader-friendly version of St Martin and his legend.

  12. wendy iverson says:

    in our sad era of pedophile priests, it’s refreshing and inspirational to read about a “man of the cloth” who truly only thought of others, and how he could help. Needless to say, we need more st. Martins!

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