At today’s Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, thousands of faithful gathered to hear Pope Benedict XVI’s challenge to “respond to the great challenge of our time: to build a world of peace and justice in which every man can live with dignity." To accomplish this, the Holy Father called on his listeners to follow the example of St. Martin of Tours.
At the outset of his usual meditation, the Holy Father said that "today, the Church celebrates St. Martin, the bishop of Tours, one of the most famous and revered saints of Europe.
Born of pagan parents in Pannonia, current-day Hungary, around the year 316, he was encouraged by his father to pursue a military career. While still a teenager, Martin found Christianity and after overcoming many difficulties, enrolled as a catechumen to receive baptism."
He received the sacrament at 20 years of age but still had to stay in the army, where he gave testimony to his new way of life, respectful and understanding with everyone, he treated his servant as a brother and avoided vulgar entertainment," the Pope remarked.
When he had finished his conscription, he went to Poitiers, where the Holy Bishop Ilario ordained him first a deacon and then a priest. The Pope recalled that St. Martin chose "the monastic life, thus giving rise to a group of disciples, who created the oldest monastery known in Europe, located in Ligugé.
Ten years later, the Pope explained, "the Christians in Tours, who had been without a pastor, acclaimed him as their bishop, since Martin had a burning zeal for evangelization and the formation of the clergy."
“At this time the Church remembers Saint Martin of Tours, the saintly monk and bishop who was moved with such great compassion for the sufferings of the poor. Recalling the occasion when he cut his cloak in two, and gave one half to a poor man, we resolve to follow his example by sharing what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves”, Benedict said.
"Dear brothers and sisters, the charitable gesture of St. Martin is part of the same logic that leads to Jesus multiply loaves for the hungry crowd, but most important of all he left himself as food for mankind in the Eucharist, the supreme sign of the love of God, Sacramentum caritatis, "said the Pontiff.
"It is the logic of sharing, which expresses such genuine love for others. St. Martin helps us to understand that above all with a common commitment to sharing, it is possible to respond to the great challenge of our time: to build a world of peace and justice in which every man can live with dignity ", he said.
St Martin, concluded the Pope “helps us to understand that only through a common commitment to sharing, can we answer to the great challenges of our time: that is to build a world of justice and peace, where every human being can live in dignity. This can only happen if a global model of authentic solidarity prevails, capable of insuring that all of the worlds’ people have food, water, healthcare, but also work and recourse to energy as well as culture and scientific and technological knowledge”.