I absolutely love that the Church celebrates Martin of Tours, the “patron saint of soldiers”, on the same day as Veterans Day. Ironically, Martin was one of the Church’s first conscientious objectors to war – he refused to fight, left the military, and coined the phrase: “I am a soldier for Christ… I cannot fight the wars of man.” I can’t imagine a better person to remember on Veterans day.
Here’s a little more about brother Martin:
Martin of Tours was born during the troubling time of Constantine’s crusades. He was born four years after Constantine’s legendary conversion to Christianity, when Christians were exchanging the cross of Jesus for the sword of the empire. Into this world of “holy war, ” Martin was born. He was named after Mars, the god of war. His dad was a veteran, in fact a senior officer, of the Roman Army. And like many of our kids, Martin entered the service as a young teenager to fight the crusades of the empire.
And then there was an interruption. Outside the gates of Amiens in modern-day France, Martin had a human encounter that would forever change him. He met a scantly-clad beggar and was deeply moved with compassion. With very little to give away, he took off his military cloak and cut it in half, giving half to the beggar. Then he eventually laid down his arms, saying, “I am a Christian, I cannot fight.” Later he would be taken to jail, insulted, and persecuted for deserting the army.
As a timely release, our veteran buddy Logan Mehl-Laituri just released his newest book FOR GOD AND COUNTRY (in that order) which profiles dozens of veteran-saints and patriotic-pacifists throughout history. It’s the perfect book for Veterans Day as we try to build a world free of war.