Wednesday, 4 July 2012

St Martin of Tours

Today we will be celebrating the Translation of Martin of Tours, patron saint of coach trips and holiday reps.

During this morning's Tours of Martin, we will be able to see Woburn Abbey on our left. And then, when we turn round at Hockliffe, we will be able to see Woburn Abbey on our right. Woburn Abbey is the seat of the Dukes of Bedford, and the ancestral home of Bertrand Russell - he being a posh bloke and all.

I sometimes wonder whether this is why he became an atheist - knowing there was no chance of getting a camel through the eye of a needle, and having a near-miss with the Dukedom, he thought he might as well take his chances with the consolations of Philosophy and Pacifism. Ironic really - the Abbey's safari park is liberally supplied with camels. And what with his cousin being so rich, he could easily have knocked up a giant needle. Instead, like so many of the Upper Class, he decided that radical politics was the way to go. I suppose radical politics is always easier when you're a posh boy - you've more used to ordering people around (very important in a Movement) and you've more to fall back on when it goes wrong.

For this year's Translation ceremony, we're going to be Translating St Martin of Tours into Welsh. I'm sure it's what he would have liked.


  1. He is actually the patron Saint of soldiers and as a former Squaddie, I can like him a lot, unfortunately he was FRENCH?

    His Dad was a Roman Tribune, good rank to get to, and Martin naughtily went against him to become a Christian.

    Martin was one of the original Child soldiers, being conscripted at 15 into the Roman Cavalry (makes Our Junior Leaders look a bit wussy).

    He had a Rheims road experience which convinced him to be a real Christian and was baptised at 18. This helped him to become a pacifist and he left the Roman Army, conveniently before a great battle in 336.

    He had quite a few adventures, exiles and after becoming a hermit founded a Monastery and became a Bishop. Quite a normal route to preferment today in the CofE.

    He did quite a bit to upset Pagans and the Druidic folk who were about and in general was a pain in the butt for them.

    All in all, he had a hectic and busy time being Christian, sorting out heresy, founding monastic orders and generally being an early church, busy bloke.

    And at no time is it mentioned that he was a tourist guide or mentor? Although I suppose that his occupation as a 'Sky Pilot' might be construed that way.

  2. I have an affection for St Martin of Tours.
    From wiki:
    "One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me." "

    Although he also cut down sacred trees on pagan sites, which of course we don't approve of now.

    I have just discovered the origin of the word 'Chapel'. How interesting, I have often wondered.

    Small temporary churches were built for the relic (his cloak) and people began to refer to them by the word for little cloak "capella" that these churches housed. Eventually small churches lost their association with the cloak and all small churches began to be referred to as Chapels[3] .

  3. I've done that tour, the guide said that if we looked hard enough from a particular vantage point over the west wall we'd be able to see his Wedgwood collection - buggered if I could see anything?


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