“Ġewż, lewż, qastan, tin, kemm inħobbu ’l San Martin”
San Martin Day is celebrated on November 11, and in Malta it is celebrated in the quaint village of Baħrija, limits of Rabat, on the closest Sunday to the day. With reference to the above rhythmical saying, the feast of San Martin for the Maltese instantly implies a bag full of nuts, as children are given a sack, usually checked, full of nuts, dried and seasonal fruit in remembrance of this saint. But who’s this San Martin
San Martin is a Neighbour
Saint Martin of Tours is a French Saint born in what today is modern Hungary. His father was a senior officer in a unit of the Roman army, stationed in Pavia, Italy. It is because of this that our saint grew up in our neighbouring peninsula.
San Martin is a Christian
His parents were not of Christian faith, and when at the young age of 10 Martin attended Christian churches and became a catechumen, he raised a few eyebrows among the community. Mithraism, the mystery religion based on the god Mithras, was the most widespread religion in the community at the time. When Christianity became a legal religion of the Roman Empire, it was still extremely unpopular and unaccepted among the highest members of society. It is known to have been more acceptable in the Eastern Empire, from where it actually originated.
San Martin is a Prisoner
Saint Martin is presumed to have been accused of cowardice, for rejecting participation in a particular fight. He later got jailed but volunteered to march to the front of the troops weapon less, an offer which was accepted but never came into fruition due to the peaceful negotiations that took place right before the fight. Martin was then released from military service.
San Martin is a Bishop
He declared his vocation and moved to Tours, a province in France, where he became a disciple, a monk, and later a bishop, after having fascinated the crowds with his gentle Christian dispositions.
San Martin is a Patron
Nowadays Saint Martin of Tours is one of the mostly renowned Christian patrons of children and the poor. He is said to have donated half of his cloak to a beggar covered only in rags to help him survive the frost of winter. That very same night, Saint Martin is believed to have dreamed of Jesus wearing the very same piece of cloak he had given to the man: reference to “Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”