Martin of Tours

c.335 - c.400. Pioneer of monasticism in Gaul. Born at Sabaria, Pannonia (modern Hungary), the son of a pagan soldier, he became a catechumen at the age of ten. His father enlisted him in the Roman army at fifteen, and three years later came the famous incident when he divided his military cloak with a beggar at Amiens and subsequently had a vision of Christ wearing the half-cloak. About two years later he was baptized. Obtaining his discharge from the army in 358, he visited Pannonia seeking his parents' conversion. In 361 he joined Hilary of Poitiers,* adopted the monastic life, and founded a monastic community at Ligugé. His disciples lived as hermits at first, meeting occasionally for common exercises. He wrote no rule; they simply followed the general traditions of the ascetic life. Later he moved his monastery to Marmoutier. In 372, by popular acclaim he was unwillingly made bishop of Tours. He engaged in active missionary work in Touraine, introduced a rudimentary parochial system, and encouraged monasticism. In 386 he protested to Emperor Maximus against the first execution for heresy, that of the Spaniard, Priscillian. His life was written by his friend Sulpicius Severus.