Beloved Members of St. Martin’s,
Today we celebrate Veterans’ Day. But it is also the feast day of our parish’s patron saint, St. Martin.
Martin is the patron saint of, among other things, tailors, beggars, soldiers and conscientious objectors, winemakers AND recovering alcoholics, which just goes to show that the people in the Roman curia who decide these things know a multi-tasker when they see one.
Martin is also the patron saint of geese, whose migration is usually simultaneous with his feast day, and although he is that patron saint of France, in England his emblem is a goose, and it is said that traditionally, the geese begin their migration south on St. Martin's Day.
The newborn baby of Hans and Margaret Luther was baptized on St. Martin’s Day in 1483, and thereafter bore the name of Martin Luther into history.
It is said that the trees bloomed on the day St. Martin was buried, even though it was November 11; and one term used to describe what some call “Indian summer” days at this time of year in Europe is “St. Martin’s Summer”—something we got to experience for two glorious days last week, including on St. Martin’s Day, before nature turned on the cold again last Thursday night.The season we now call Advent used to begin on St. Martin’s Day, and with fasting every day except Saturday and Sunday all the way through Christmas 40 days later. This period was called “St. Martin’s Lent”, or “Little Lent.”St. Martin’s feast day, known among church nerds as “Martinmas,” is also the anniversary of the end of fighting in World War I—a deliberate choice given the saint’s connection with resisting war. What was once called “Armistice Day” is now called here in this country “Veterans’ Day” here in the US. Today we celebrate the willingness of Americans and immigrants of all genders and nationalities to place their lives on the line in protecting this country (like my own Dad, who dropped out of high school to enlist in the Navy in December of 1941, seen in the photo), sometimes on the field of battle. This day stands separate from Memorial Day, which is meant to specifically remember those who died in service to this country, even though these two days often get conflated together.
As the proud great-granddaughter, granddaughter, daughter, niece, cousin and aunt, in addition to friend, of people who have served or are serving this country in the armed forces, I give thanks for their willingness to sacrifice—and for the fact that they all returned home from their service. Many of their friends did not. May we all remember the principles of freedom, community, and equality for which our veterans served, and may we do all we can to make sure that they are cared for fully by a grateful nation.