The Life of Saint Martin - Part 2
On The Life Of Saint Martin
- 1 CHAPTER XIII. Martin escapes from a Falling Pine-tree.
- 2 CHAPTER XIV. Martin destroys Heathen Temples and Altars.
- 3 CHAPTER XV. Martin offers his Neck to an Assassin.
- 4 CHAPTER XVI. Cures effected by St. Martin.
- 5 CHAPTER XVII. Martin casts out Several Devils.
- 6 CHAPTER XVIII. Martin performs Various Miracles.
- 7 CHAPTER XIX. A Letter of Martin effects a Cure, with Other Miracles.
- 8 CHAPTER XX. How Martin acted towards the Emperor Maximus.
- 9 CHAPTER XXI. Martin has to do both with Angels and Devils.
- 10 CHAPTER XXII. Martin preaches Repentance even to the Devil.
- 11 CHAPTER XXIII. A Case of Diabolic Deception.
- 12 CHAPTER XXIV. Martin is tempted by the Wiles of the Devil.
- 13 CHAPTER XXV. Intercourse of Sulpitius with Martin.
- 14 CHAPTER XXVI. Words cannot describe the Excellences of Martin.
- 15 CHAPTER XXVII. Wonderful Piety of Martin.
- 16 Footnotes
- 17 Navigation
CHAPTER XIII. Martin escapes from a Falling Pine-tree.
AGAIN, when in a certain village he had demolished a very ancient temple, and had set about cutting down a pine-tree, which stood close to the temple, the chief priest of that place, and a crowd of other heathens began to oppose him. And these people, though, under the influence of the Lord, they had been quiet while the temple was being overthrown, could not patiently allow the tree to be cut down. Martin carefully instructed them that there was nothing sacred in the trunk of a tree, and urged them rather to honor God whom he himself served. He added that there was a moral necessity why that tree should be cut down, because it had been dedicated to a demon. Then one of them who was bolder than the others says, "If you have any trust in thy God, whom you say you worship, we ourselves will cut down this tree, and be it your part to receive it when falling; for if, as you declare, your Lord is with you, you will escape all injury." Then Martin, courageously trusting in the Lord, promises that he would do what had been asked. Upon this, all that crowd of heathen agreed to the condition named; for they held the loss of their tree a small matter, if only they got the enemy of their religion buried beneath its fall. Accordingly, since that pine-tree was hanging over in one direction, so that there was no doubt to what side it would fall on being cut, Martin, having been bound, is, in accordance with the decision of these pagans, placed in that spot where, as no one doubted, the tree was about to fall. They began, therefore, to cut down their own tree, with great glee and joyfulness, while there was at some distance a great multitude of wondering spectators. And now the pine-tree began to totter, and to threaten its own ruin by falling. The monks at a distance grew pale, and, terrified by the danger ever coming nearer, had lost all hope and confidence, expecting only the death of Martin. But he, trusting in the Lord, and waiting courageously, when now the falling pine had uttered its expiring crash, while it was now falling, while it was just rushing upon him, simply holding up his hand against it, he put in its way the sign of salvation. Then, indeed, after the manner of a spinning-top (one might have thought it driven back), it swept round to the opposite side, to such a degree that it almost crushed the rustics, who had taken their places there in what was deemed a safe spot. Then truly, a shout being raised to heaven, the heathen were amazed by the miracle, while the monks wept for joy; and the name of Christ was in common extolled by all. The well-known result was that on that day salvation came to that region. For there was hardly one of that immense multitude of heathens who did not express a desire for the imposition of hands, and abandoning his impious errors, made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. Certainly, before the times of Martin, very few, nay, almost none, in those regions had received the name of Christ; but through his virtues and example that name has prevailed to such an extent, that now there is no place thereabouts which is not filled either with very crowded churches or monasteries. For wherever he destroyed heathen temples, there he used immediately to build either churches or monasteries.
CHAPTER XIV. Martin destroys Heathen Temples and Altars.
NOR did he show less eminence, much about the same time, in other transactions of a like kind. For, having in a certain village set fire to a very ancient and celebrated temple, the circle of flames was carried by the action of the wind upon a house which was very close to, yea, connected with, the temple. When Martin perceived this, he climbed by rapid ascent to the roof of the house, presenting himself in front of the advancing flames. Then indeed might the fire have been seen thrust back in a wonderful manner against the force of the wind, so that there appeared a sort of conflict of the two elements fighting together. Thus, by the influence of Martin, the fire only acted in the place where it was ordered to do so. But in a village which was named Leprosum, when he too wished to overthrow a temple which had acquired great wealth through the superstitious ideas entertained of its sanctity, a multitude of the heathen resisted him to such a degree that he was driven back not without bodily injury. He, therefore, withdrew to a place in the vicinity, and there for three days, clothed in sackcloth and ashes fasting and praying the whole time, he besought the Lord, that, as he had not been able to overthrow that temple by human effort, Divine power might be exerted to destroy it. Then two angels, with spears and shields after the manner of heavenly warriors, suddenly presented themselves to him, saying that they were sent by the Lord to put to flight the rustic multitude, and to furnish protection to Martin, lest, while the temple was being destroyed, any one should offer resistance. They told him therefore to return, and complete the blessed work which he had begun. Accordingly Martin returned to the village; and while the crowds of heathen looked on in perfect quiet as he razed the pagan temple even to the foundations, he also reduced all the altars and images to dust. At this sight the rustics, when they perceived that they had been so astounded and terrified by an intervention of the Divine will, that they might not be found fighting against the bishop, almost all believed in the Lord Jesus. They then began to cry out openly and to confess that the God of Martin ought to be worshiped, and that the idols should be despised, which were not able to help them.
CHAPTER XV. Martin offers his Neck to an Assassin.
I SHALL also relate what took place in the village of the Ædui. When Martin was there overthrowing a temple, a multitude of rustic heathen rushed upon him in a frenzy of rage. And when one of them, bolder than the rest, made an attack upon him with a drawn sword, Martin, throwing back his cloak, offered his bare neck to the assassin. Nor did the heathen delay to strike, but in the very act of lifting up his right arm, he fell to the ground on his back, and being overwhelmed by the fear of God, he entreated for pardon. Not unlike this was that other event which happened to Martin, that when a certain man had resolved to wound him with a knife as he was destroying some idols, at the very moment of fetching the blow, the weapon was struck out of his hands and disappeared. Very frequently, too, when the pagans were addressing him to the effect that he would not overthrow their temples, he so soothed and conciliated the minds of the heathen by his holy discourse that, the light of truth having been revealed to them, they themselves overthrew their own temples.
CHAPTER XVI. Cures effected by St. Martin.
MOREOVER, the gift of accomplishing cures was so largely possessed by Martin, that scarcely any sick person came to him for assistance without being at once restored to health. This will clearly appear from the following example. A certain girl at Treves was so completely prostrated by a terrible paralysis that for a long time she had been quite unable to make use of her body for any purpose, and being, as it were, already dead, only the smallest breath of life seemed still to remain in her. Her afflicted relatives were standing by, expecting nothing but her death, when it was suddenly announced that Martin had come to that city. When the father of the girl found that such was the case, he ran to make a request in behalf of his all but lifeless child. It happened that Martin had already entered the church. There, while the people were looking on, and in the presence of many other bishops, the old man, uttering a cry of grief, embraced the saint's knees and said: "My daughter is dying of a miserable kind of infirmity; and, what is more dreadful than death itself, she is now alive only in the spirit, her flesh being already dead before the time. I beseech thee to go to her, and give her thy blessing; for I believe that through you she will be restored to health." Martin, troubled by such an address, was bewildered, and shrank back, saying that this was a matter not in his own hands; that the old man was mistaken in the judgment he had formed; and that he was not worthy to be the instrument through whom the Lord should make a display of his power. The father, in tears, persevered in still more earnestly pressing the case, and entreated Martin to visit the dying girl. At last, constrained by the bishops standing by to go as requested, he went down to the home of the girl. An immense crowd was waiting at the doors, to see what the servant of the Lord would do. And first, betaking himself to his familiar arms in affairs of that kind, he cast himself down on the ground and prayed. Then gazing earnestly upon the ailing girl, he requests that oil should be given him. After he had received and blessed this, he poured the powerful sacred liquid into the mouth of the girl, and immediately her voice returned to her. Then gradually, through contact with him, her limbs began, one by one, to recover life, till, at last, in the presence of the people, she arose with firm steps.
CHAPTER XVII. Martin casts out Several Devils.
AT the same time the servant of one Tetradius, a man of proconsular rank, having been laid hold of by a demon, was tormented with the most miserable results. Martin, therefore, having been asked to lay his hands on him, ordered the servant to be brought to him; but the evil spirit could, in no way, be brought forth from the cell in which he was: he showed himself so fearful, with ferocious teeth, to those who attempted to draw near. Then Tetradius throws himself at the feet of the saintly man, imploring that he himself would go down to the house in which the possessed of the devil was kept. But Martin then declared that he could not visit the house of an unconverted heathen. For Tetradius, at that time, was still involved in the errors of heathenism. He, therefore, pledges his word that if the demon were driven out of the boy, he would become a Christian. Martin, then, laying his hand upon the boy, cast the evil spirit out of him. On seeing this, Tetradius believed in the Lord Jesus, and immediately became a catechumen, while, not long after, he was baptized; and he always regarded Martin with extraordinary affection, as having been the author of his salvation. About the same time, having entered the dwelling of a certain householder in the same town, he stopped short at the very threshold, and said, that he perceived a horrible demon in the courtyard of the house. When Martin ordered it to depart, it laid hold of a certain member of the family, who was staying in the inner part of the house; and the poor wretch began at once to rage with his teeth, and to lacerate whomsoever he met. The house was thrown into disorder; the family was in confusion; and the people present took to flight. Martin threw himself in the way of the frenzied creature, and first of all commanded him to stand still. But when he continued to gnash with his teeth, and, with gaping mouth, was threatening to bite, Martin inserted his fingers into his mouth, and said, "If you possess any power, devour these." But then, as if red-hot iron had entered his jaws, drawing his teeth far away he took care not to touch the fingers of the saintly man; and when he was compelled by punishments and tortures, to flee out of the possessed body, while he had no power of escaping by the mouth, he was cast out by means of a defluxion of the belly, leaving disgusting traces behind him.
CHAPTER XVIII. Martin performs Various Miracles.
IN the meanwhile, as a sudden report had troubled the city as to the movement and inroad of the barbarians, Martin orders a possessed person to be set before him, and commanded him to declare whether this message was true or not. Then he confessed that there were sixteen demons who had spread this report among the people, in order that by the fear thus excited, Martin might have to flee from the city, but that, in fact, nothing was less in the minds of the barbarians than to make any inroad. When the unclean spirit thus acknowledged these things in the midst of the church, the city was set free from the fear and tumult which had at the time been felt. At Paris, again, when Martin was entering the gate of the city, with large crowds attending him, he gave a kiss to a leper, of miserable appearance, while all shuddered at seeing him do so; and Martin blessed him, with the result that he was instantly cleansed from all his misery. On the following day, the man appearing in the church with a healthy skin, gave thanks for the soundness of body which he had recovered. This fact, too, ought not to be passed over in silence, that threads from Martin's garment, or such as had been plucked from the sackcloth which he wore, wrought frequent miracles upon those who were sick. For, by either being tied round the fingers or placed about the neck, they very often drove away diseases from the afflicted.
CHAPTER XIX. A Letter of Martin effects a Cure, with Other Miracles.
FURTHER, Arborius, an ex-prefect, and a man of a very holy and faithful character, while his daughter was in agony from the burning fever of a quartan ague, inserted in the bosom of the girl, at the very paroxysm of the heat, a letter of Martin which happened to have been brought to him, and immediately the fever was dispelled. This event had such an influence upon Arborius, that he at once consecrated the girl to God, and devoted her to perpetual virginity. Then, proceeding to Martin, he presented the girl to him, as an obvious living example of his power of working miracles, inasmuch as she had been cured by him though absent; and he would not suffer her to be consecrated by any other than Martin, through his placing upon her the dress characteristic of virginity. Paulinus, too, a man who was afterwards to furnish a striking example of the age, having begun to suffer grievously in one of his eyes, and when a pretty thick skin having grown over it had already covered up its pupil, Martin touched his eye with a painter's brush, and, all pain being removed, thus restored it to its former soundness. He himself also, when, by a certain accident, he had fallen out of an upper room, and tumbling down a broken, uneven stair, had received many wounds, as he lay in his cell at the point of death, and was tortured with grievous sufferings, saw in the night an angel appear to him, who washed his wounds, and applied healing ointment to the bruised members of his body. As the effect of this, he found himself on the morrow restored to soundness of health, so that he was not thought to have suffered any harm. But because it would be tedious to go through everything of this kind, let these examples suffice, as a few out of a multitude; and let it be enough that we do not in striking cases [of miraculous interposition] detract from the truth, while, having so many to choose from, we avoid exciting weariness in the reader.
CHAPTER XX. How Martin acted towards the Emperor Maximus.
AND here to insert some smaller matters among things so great (although such is the nature of our times in which all things have fallen into decay and corruption, it is almost a pre-eminent virtue for priestly firmness not to have yielded to royal flattery), when a number of bishops from various parts had assembled to the Emperor Maximus, a man of fierce character, and at that time elated with the victory he had won in the civil wars, and when the disgraceful flattery of all around the emperor was generally remarked, while the priestly dignity had, with degenerate submissiveness, taken a second place to the royal retinue, in Martin alone, apostolic authority continued to assert itself. For even if he had to make suit to the sovereign for some things, he commanded rather than entreated him; and although often invited, he kept away from his entertainments, saying that he could not take a place at the table of one who, out of two emperors, had deprived one of his kingdom, and the other of his life. At last, when Maximus maintained that he had not of his own accord assumed the sovereignty, but that he had simply defended by arms the necessary requirements of the empire, regard to which had been imposed upon him by the soldiers, according to the Divine appointment, and that the favor of God did not seem wanting to him who, by an event seemingly so incredible, had secured the victory, adding to that the statement that none of his adversaries had been slain except in the open field of battle, at length, Martin, overcome either by his reasoning or his entreaties, came to the royal banquet. The king was wonderfully pleased because he had gained this point. Moreover, there were guests present who had been invited as if to a festival; men of the highest and most illustrious rank,--the prefect, who was also consul, named Evodius, one of the most righteous men that ever lived; two courtiers possessed of the greatest power, the brother and uncle of the king, while between these two, the presbyter of Martin had taken his place; but he himself occupied a seat which was set quite close to the king. About the middle of the banquet, according to custom, one of the servants presented a goblet to the king. He orders it rather to be given to the very holy bishop, expecting and hoping that he should then receive the cup from his right hand. But Martin, when he had drunk, handed the goblet to his own presbyter, as thinking no one worthier to drink next to himself, and holding that it would, not be right for him to prefer either the king himself, or those who were next the king, to the presbyter. And the emperor, as well as all those who were then present, admired this conduct so much, that this very thing, by which they had been undervalued, gave them pleasure. The report then ran through the whole palace that Martin had done, at the king's dinner, what no bishop had dared to do at the banquets of the lowest judges. And Martin predicted to the same Maximus long before, that if he went into Italy to which he then desired to go, waging war, against the Emperor Valentinianus, it would come to pass that he should know he would indeed be victorious in the first attack, but would perish a short time afterwards. And we have seen that this did in fact take place. For, on his first arrival Valentinianus had to betake himself to flight but recovering his strength about a year afterwards, Maximus was taken and slain by him within the walls of Aquileia.
CHAPTER XXI. Martin has to do both with Angels and Devils.
IT is also well known that angels were very often seen by him, so that they spoke in turns with him in set speech. As to the devil, Martin held him so visible and ever under the power of his eyes, that whether he kept himself in his proper form, or changed himself into different shapes of spiritual wickedness, he was perceived by Martin, under whatever guise he appeared. The devil knew well that he could not escape discovery, and therefore frequently heaped insults upon Martin, being unable to beguile him by trickery. On one occasion the devil, holding in his hand the bloody horn of an ox, rushed into Martin's cell with great noise, and holding out to him his bloody right hand, while at the same time he exulted in the crime he had committed, said: "Where, O Martin, is thy power? I have just slain one of your people." Then Martin assembled the brethren, and related to them what the devil had disclosed, while he ordered them carefully to search the several cells in order to discover who had been visited with this calamity. They report that no one of the monks was missing, but that one peasant, hired by them, had gone to the forest to bring home wood in his wagon. Upon hearing this, Martin instructs some of them to go and meet him. On their doing so, the man was found almost dead at no great distance from the monastery. Nevertheless, although just drawing his last breath, he made known to the brethren the cause of his wound and death. He said that, while he was drawing tighter the thongs which had got loose on the oxen yoked together, one of the oxen, throwing his head free, had wounded him with his horn in the groin. And not long after the man expired. You see with what judgment of the Lord this power was given to the devil. This was a marvelous feature in Martin that not only on this occasion to which I have specially referred, but on many occasions of the same kind, in fact as often as such things occurred, he perceived them long beforehand, and disclosed the things which had been revealed to him to the brethren.
CHAPTER XXII. Martin preaches Repentance even to the Devil.
NOW, the devil, while he tried to impose upon the holy man by a thousand injurious arts, often thrust himself upon him in a visible form, but in very various shapes. For sometimes he presented himself to his view changed into the person of Jupiter, often into that of Mercury and Minerva. Often, too, were heard words of reproach, in which the crowd of demons assailed Martin with scurrilous expressions. But knowing that all were false and groundless, he was not affected by the charges brought against him. Moreover, some of the brethren bore witness that they had heard a demon reproaching Martin in abusive terms, and asking why he had taken back, on their subsequent repentance, certain of the brethren who had, some time previously, lost their baptism by falling into various errors. The demon set forth the crimes of each of them; but they added that Martin, resisting the devil firmly, answered him, that by-past sins are cleansed away by the leading of a better life, and that through the mercy of God, those are to be absolved from their sins who have given up their evil ways. The devil saying in opposition to this that such guilty men as those referred to did not come within the pale of pardon, and that no mercy was extended by the Lord to those who had once fallen away, Martin is said to have cried out in words to the following effect: "If thou, thyself, wretched being, wouldst but desist from attacking mankind, and even, at this period, when the day of judgment is at hand, wouldst only repent of your deeds, I, with a true confidence in the Lord, would promise you the mercy of Christ." O what a holy boldness with respect to the loving-kindness of the Lord, in which, although he could not assert authority, he nevertheless showed the feelings dwelling within him! And since our discourse has here sprung up concerning the devil and his devices, it does not seem away from the point, although the matter does not bear immediately upon Martin, to relate what took place; both because the virtues of Martin do, to some extent, appear in the transaction, and the incident, which was worthy of a miracle, will properly be put on record, with the view of furnishing a caution, should anything of a similar character subsequently occur.
CHAPTER XXIII. A Case of Diabolic Deception.
THERE was a certain man, Clarus by name, a most noble youth, who afterwards became a presbyter, and who is now, through his happy departure from this world, numbered among the saints. He, leaving all others, betook himself to Martin, and in a short time became distinguished for the most exalted faith, and for all sorts of excellence. Now, it came to pass that, when he had erected an abode for himself not far from the monastery of the bishop, and many brethren were staying with him, a certain youth, Anatolius by name, having, under the profession of a monk, falsely assumed every appearance of humility and innocence, came to him, and lived for some time on the common store along with the rest. Then, as time went on, he began to affirm that angels were in the habit of talking with him. As no one gave any credit to his words, he urged a number of the brethren to believe by certain signs. At length he went to such a length as to declare that angels passed between him and God; and now he wished that he should be regarded as one of the prophets. Clarus, however, could by no means be induced to believe. He then began to threaten Clarus with the anger of God and present afflictions, because he did not believe one of the saints. At the last, he is related to have burst forth with the following declaration: "Behold, the Lord will this night give me a white robe out of heaven, clothed in which, I will dwell in the midst of you; and that will be to you a sign that I am the Power of God, inasmuch as I have been presented with the garment of God." Then truly the expectation of all was highly raised by this profession. Accordingly, about the middle of the night, it was seen, by the noise of people moving eagerly about, that the whole monastery in the place was excited. It might be seen, too, that the cell in which the young man referred to lived was glittering with numerous lights; and the whisperings of those moving about in it, as well as a kind of murmur of many. voices, could be heard. Then, on silence being secured, the youth coming forth calls one of the brethren, Sabatius by name, to himself, and shows him the robe in which he had been clothed. He again, filled with amazement, gathers the rest together, and Clarus himself also runs up; and a light being obtained, they all carefully inspect the garment. Now, it was of the utmost softness, of marvelous brightness, and of glittering purple, and yet no one could discover what was its nature, or of what sort of fleece it had been formed. However, when it was more minutely examined by the eyes or fingers, it seemed nothing else than a garment. In the meantime, Clarus urges upon the brethren to be earnest in prayer, that the Lord would show them more clearly what it really was. Accordingly, the rest of the night was spent in singing hymns and psalms. But when day broke, Clarus wished to take the young man by the hand, and bring him to Martin, being well aware that he could not be deceived by any arts of the devil. Then, indeed, the miserable man began to resist and refuse, and affirmed that he had been forbidden to show himself to Martin. And when they compelled him to go against his will, the garment vanished from among the hands of those who were conducting him. Wherefore, who can doubt that this, too, was an illustration of the power of Martin, so that the devil could no longer dissemble or conceal his own deception, when it was to be submitted to the eyes of Martin?
CHAPTER XXIV. Martin is tempted by the Wiles of the Devil.
IT was found, again, that about the same time there was a young man in Spain, who, having by many signs obtained for himself authority among the people, was puffed up to such a pitch that he gave himself out as being Elias. And when multitudes had too readily believed this, he went on to say that he was actually Christ; and he succeeded so well even in this delusion that a certain bishop named Rufus worshiped him as being the Lord. For so doing, we have seen this bishop at a later date deprived of his office. Many of the brethren have also informed me that at the same time one arose in the East, who boasted that he was John. We may infer from this, since false prophets of such a kind have appeared, that the coming of Antichrist is at hand; for he is already practicing in these persons the mystery of iniquity. And truly I think this point should not be passed over, with what arts the devil about this very time tempted Martin. For, on a certain day, prayer having been previously offered, and the fiend himself being surrounded by a purple light, in order that he might the more easily deceive people by the brilliance of the splendor assumed, clothed also in a royal robe, and with a crown of precious stones and gold encircling his head, his shoes too being inlaid with gold, while he presented a tranquil countenance, and a generally rejoicing aspect, so that no such thought as that he was the devil might be entertained--he stood by the side of Martin as he was praying in his cell. The saint being dazzled by his first appearance, both preserved a long and deep silence. This was first broken by the devil, who said: "Acknowledge, Martin, who it is that you behold. I am Christ; and being just about to descend to earth, I wished first to manifest myself to thee." When Martin kept silence on hearing these words, and gave no answer whatever, the devil dared to repeat his audacious declaration: "Martin, why do you hesitate to believe, when you see? I am Christ." Then Martin, the Spirit revealing the truth to him, that he might understand it was the devil, and not God, replied as follows: "The Lord Jesus did not predict that he would come clothed in purple, and with a glittering crown upon his head. I will not believe that Christ has come, unless he appears with that appearance and form in which he suffered, and openly displaying the marks of his wounds upon the cross." On hearing these words, the devil vanished like smoke, and filled the cell with such a disgusting smell, that he left unmistakable evidences of his real character. This event, as I have just related, took place in the way which I have stated, and my information regarding it was derived from the lips of Martin himself; therefore let no one regard it as fabulous.
CHAPTER XXV. Intercourse of Sulpitius with Martin.
FOR since I, having long heard accounts of his faith, life and virtues, burned with a desire of knowing him, I undertook what was to me a pleasant journey for the purpose of seeing him. At the same time, because already my mind was inflamed with the desire of writing his life, I obtained my information partly from himself, in so far as I could venture to question him, and partly from those who had lived with him, or well knew the facts of the case. And at this time it is scarcely credible with what humility and with what kindness he received me; while he cordially wished me joy, and rejoiced in the Lord that he had been held in such high estimation by me that I had undertaken a journey owing to my desire of seeing him. Unworthy me! (in fact, I hardly dare acknowledge it), that he should have deigned to admit me to fellowship with him! He went so far as in person to present me with water to wash my hands, and at eventide he himself washed my feet; nor had I sufficient courage to resist or oppose his doing so. In fact, I felt so overcome by the authority he unconsciously exerted, that I deemed it unlawful to do anything but acquiesce in his arrangements. His conversation with me was all directed to such points as the following: that the allurements of this world and secular burdens were to be abandoned in order that we might be free and unencumbered in following the Lord Jesus; and he pressed upon me as an admirable example in present circumstances the conduct of that distinguished man Paulinus, of whom I have made mention above. Martin declared of him that, by parting with his great possessions and following Christ, as he did, he showed himself almost the only one who in these times had fully obeyed the precepts of the Gospel. He insisted strongly that that was the man who should be made the object of our imitation, adding that the present age was fortunate in possessing such a model of faith and virtue. For Paulinus, being rich and having many possessions, by selling them all and giving them to the poor according to the expressed will of the Lord, had, he said, made possible by actual proof what appeared impossible of accomplishment. What power and dignity there were in Martin's words and conversation! How active he was, how practical, and how prompt and ready in solving questions connected with Scripture! And because I know that many are incredulous on this point,--for indeed I have met with persons who did not believe me when I related such things,--I call to witness Jesus, and our common hope as Christians, that I never heard from any other lips than those of Martin such exhibitions of knowledge and genius, or such specimens of good and pure speech. But yet, how insignificant is all such praise when compared with the virtues which he possessed! Still, it is remarkable that in a man who had no claim to be called learned, even this attribute [of high intelligence] was not wanting.
CHAPTER XXVI. Words cannot describe the Excellences of Martin.
BUT now my book must be brought to an end, and my discourse finished. This is not because all that was worthy of being said concerning Martin is now exhausted, but because I, just as sluggish poets grow less careful towards the end of their work, give over, being baffled by the immensity of the matter. For, although his outward deeds could in some sort of way be set forth in words, no language, I truly own, can ever be capable of describing his inner life and daily conduct, and his mind always bent upon the things of heaven. No one can adequately make known his perseverance and self-mastery in abstinence and fastings, or his power in watchings and prayers, along with the nights, as well as days, which were spent by him, while not a moment was separated from the service of God, either for indulging in ease, or engaging in business. But, in fact, he did not indulge either in food or sleep, except in so far as the necessities of nature required. I freely confess that, if, as the saying is, Homer himself were to ascend from the shades below, he could not do justice to this subject in words; to such an extent did all excellences surpass in Martin the possibility of being embodied in language. Never did a single hour or moment pass in which he was not either actually engaged in prayer; or, if it happened that he was occupied with something else, still he never let his mind loose from prayer. In truth, just as it is the custom of blacksmiths, in the midst of their work to beat their own anvil as a sort of relief to the laborer, so Martin even when he appeared to be doing something else, was still engaged in prayer. O truly blessed man in whom there was no guile--judging no man, condemning no man, returning evil for evil to no man! He displayed indeed such marvelous patience in the endurance of injuries, that even when he was chief priest, he allowed himself to be wronged by the lowest clerics with impunity; nor did he either remove them from the office on account of such conduct, or, as far as in him lay, repel them from a place in his affection.
CHAPTER XXVII. Wonderful Piety of Martin.
NO one ever saw him enraged, or excited, or lamenting, or laughing; he was always one and the same: displaying a kind of heavenly happiness in his countenance, he seemed to have passed the ordinary limits of human nature. Never was there any word on his lips but Christ, and never was there a feeling in his heart except piety, peace, and tender mercy. Frequently, too, he used to weep for the sins of those who showed themselves his revilers--those who, as he led his retired and tranquil life, slandered him with poisoned tongue and a viper's mouth. And truly we have had experience of some who were envious of his virtues and his life--who really hated in him what they did not see in themselves, and what they had not power to imitate. And--O wickedness worthy of deepest grief and groans!--some of his calumniators, although very few, some of his maligners, I say, were reported to be no others than bishops! Here, however, it is not necessary to name any one, although a good many of these people are still venting their spleen against myself. I shall deem it sufficient that, if any one of them reads this account, and perceives that he is himself pointed at, he may have the grace to blush. But if, on the other hand, he shows anger, he will, by that very fact, own that he is among those spoken of, though all the time perhaps I have been thinking of some other person. I shall, however, by no means feel ashamed if any people of that sort include myself in their hatred along with such a man as Martin. I am quite persuaded of this, that the present little work will give pleasure to all truly good men. And I shall only say further that, if any one read this narrative in an unbelieving spirit, he himself will fall into sin. I am conscious to myself that I have been induced by belief in the facts, and by the love of Christ, to write these things; and that, in doing so, I have set forth what is well known, and recorded what is true; and, as I trust, that man will have a reward prepared by God, not who shall read these things but who shall believe them.
- Source: A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Volume 11, New York, 1894, Translation and Notes by Alexander Roberts, See also : College of Saint Benedict and Saint John' University Website.