St. Martin of Tours
Died: November 8, 397
Feast Day: November 11
Patron Saint of: barbers, France, hairdressers
Martin was born in Sabrina of the Roman Empire, the area now known as Hungary. His father was a member of the Roman army and he was raised in a family that lived as pagans. At the age of 15, Martin was forced to join the army, which led him to Amiens in Gaul (what is today France). When he was 21, he passed the gates of Amiens and saw a man freezing on the side of the road. Taking pity on this man, Martin ripped his army issue cloak in half and gave it to the man to help comfort him. That night, Martin dreamt of Jesus Christ wearing that half cloak. This vision shook Martin to the core, no longer wanting to be part of the army, he succeeded in attaining a discharge from service. Martin journeyed to the city of Pointers where he met the bishop, Saint Hilary, where he was baptized. Upon return to Gaul, Martin found that the Arian heresy had taken a firm hold. Martin spoke out against this heresy and was accordingly singled out for persecution and was forced to flee. As he later discovered, the same happened shortly thereafter to Saint Hilary. Martin fled to Gallinaria, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea (now Isola d'Albinga) and lived as a hermit. In the year 361, word had reached Martin that Hilary had regained his seat in Pointers; this news moved Hilary to return once more to Gaul. Knowing of God's call to Martin, Hilary sent Martin to Leguge, a Benedictine monastery, to continue his ways as a hermit where Martin spent the next ten years. In 371, the Bishop of Tours died and Martin was asked twice to assume that seat - he respectfully refused both times. Tricked into coming to Tours to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to a friend's wife, Martin was persuaded to remain and on June 4, 371, Martin became Bishop of Tours. As bishop, Martin was renowned for successfully staving off numerous heresies.