St Martin of Tours was born 316 years after the birth of Jesus. His father was a soldier in the Roman Army.
Martin knew from an early age that he would be a soldier like his father because that was the law at the time. But Martin kept on saying that he didn’t want to become a soldier but he realised that he would have to so he decided that he would try to be as good a soldier as he could be.
He wanted to become a Christian so he was enrolled as a catechumen. As he learned about how a follower of Christ should live, he began to think that it was not right for a follower of Jesus to be a soldier and fight.
He told Julian that he would walk at the head of the army the next day without his sword or his armour, carrying a cross. The emperor was very angry with Martin and had him thrown into prison. Shortly afterwards Martin was told to leave the army. Just before he left, he was walking back to his room after being on guard duty when a poor beggar, half dressed, suddenly appeared in front of him. It was a very cold winter night and Martin felt very sorry for the poor beggar, but he had no clothes or money left because he had given everything he owned to the poor already. So he took off his cloak and he cut it in half with his sword and gave the warmer one to the beggar.
The next night, Martin was sitting in his room when suddenly a bright light appeared. Jesus stood in the middle of it with some angels. He was holding Martin’s cloak. ‘Martin, the catechumen, do you recognise this? Jesus turned to the angels and said, ‘Martin clothed me with this last night.’ Martin realised that he wanted to become a Christian and spent the rest of his life telling people about Jesus.