As you know, Veterans Day is an annual United States holiday honoring military veterans. In other countries, the day is celebrated as Armistice Day. It recalls the ending of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.
|El Greco’s St Martin|
However, there is a deeper, Catholic meaning to November 11. This day is the feast of Saint Martin (c. 316 – 397) – that godly hermit and bishop who had once been a soldier. Martin laid down the sword in order to live a life of peace and penance under the gentle yoke of Jesus Christ. St Martin is Europe’s chief example of the transition from soldier to saint; from war to peace.
Traditionally, November 11 had previously served as a day of signing peace treaties in honor of Saint Martin. Thus, it was fitting to end Europe’s Great War on this same day – the festival of Saint Martin of Tours.
So there’s a little Catholic history for you to share at the water-cooler or at your next cocktail party. Saint Martin is the ultimate veteran – a veteran from Christ.
Saint Martin, patron of peace, pray for us.