Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Feast of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop
is today. There is information on him here. The parish where I was baptized and made my First Holy Communion has him as its patron.

St. Martin, as I have several times said, is famous for his miraculous powers. He is even said to have raised the dead. He was persecuted by the Evil One, as St. Antony had been before him. One of these assaults has so deep an instruction in it, and is so apposite both to the foregoing narrative and to this age, that I shall take leave of the reader with relating it:—

"While Martin was praying in his cell, the evil spirit stood before him, environed in a glittering radiance, by such pretence more easily to deceive him; clad also in royal robes, crowned with a golden and jewelled diadem, with shoes covered with gold, with serene face, and bright looks, so as to seem nothing so little as what he was. Martin at first was dazzled at the sight; and for a long while both parties kept silence. At length the Evil One began:— 'Acknowledge,' he says, 'O Martin, whom thou seest. I am Christ; I am now descending upon earth, and I wished first to manifest myself to thee.' Martin still kept silent, and returned no answer. The devil ventured to repeat his bold pretence. 'Martin, why hesitate in believing, when thou seest I am Christ?' Then he, understanding by revelation of the Spirit that it was the Evil One and not God, answered, 'Jesus, the Lord, announced not that He should come in glittering clothing, and radiant with a diadem. I will not believe that Christ is come, save in that state and form in which He suffered, save with the show of the wounds of the Cross.' At these words the other vanished forthwith as smoke, and filled the cell with so horrible an odour as to leave indubitable proofs who he was. That this so took place, I know from the mouth of Martin himself lest any one should think it fabulous."—Vit. B. M. 25.

The application of this vision to Martin's age is obvious; I suppose it means in this day, that Christ comes not in pride of intellect, or reputation for philosophy. These are the glittering robes in which Satan is now arraying. Many spirits are abroad, more are issuing from the pit; the credentials which they display are the precious gifts of mind, beauty, richness, depth, originality. Christian, look hard at them with Martin in silence, and ask them for the print of the nails.

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Historical Sketches


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