Martin, concerning whose life we know much from the Liber Pontificalis and from his letters, was born at Todi in Tuscany. In those days it was customary, before the consecration of a Pope, to get the confirmation of the election from the Emperor ; but when Martin was elected, he did not seek it, because this same, Constans II, had placed himself outside the Church through heresy. At the beginning of his Popedom, however, in the year 649, he was careful to send an ambassage with letters to Paul, Patriarch of Constantinople, to call upon him to return to the truth of the Orthodox Faith from the blasphemous heresy of the Monothelites. But Paul, backed up by the heretical Emperor, banished the Legates of the Roman See into divers places in the Islands. This evil deed moved the Pope to gather together at the Lateran a council of one hundred and five bishops, by whom Paul was condemned, and certain heretical edicts of the Emperor were censured. * Thereupon Constans sent his Chamberlain Olympius into Italy, as Exarch, straitly commanding him to bring to naught this resistance of Pope Martin to the Monothelites. But Olympius found no way to bring harm to Martin, and soon departed. Whereupon Constans sent the Exarch Theodore Calliopas to Rome, with command to lay hands on the Pope. By him Martin was treacherously taken to the Island of Naxos. Later he was brought to Constantinople, where he was kept in prison till he was sent to the Crimea. * There his sufferings for the Orthodox Faith utterly broke him down ; and he left this life in the eighth year of his pontificate, on September 16th, 655. November 12th is reputed to be the day of his translation, for his body was afterwards brought to Rome, and buried in the Church dedicated under the names of Saints Sylvester and Martin of Tours. He sat Saint Peters Chair for six years, one month, and twenty-six days, and was the last the Popes to be honored with the Martyr’s title. He held two ordinations in the month of December, wherein he made eleven priests, five deacons, and thirty-three bishops divers places.
|Pope Saint Martin I|
A Homily by St. Gregory the Pope
Dearly beloved brethren, if we consider what and how great things are promised us in heaven, all things which are upon earth grow poor in our mind. For when this world’s goods are reckoned against heavenly rewards, they are found to be a hindrance rather than a help. Earthly life, being compared to life eternal, ought rather to be called death than life. For what is the daily failing of our corruptible body but, as it were, a slow death? And what tongue can tell, or what mind comprehend, how great is the rejoicing in the city above? For there they have part with the choirs of Angels, and stand with those blessed spirits before the glory of the Creator, and see God face to face, and gaze upon Light Incomprehensible, and have no fear of death, but rejoice in the gift of an incorruption which is eternal.
When we hear these things our hearts burn within us. And we long to be already there, where we hop to rejoice eternally. But we cannot attain unto great rewards save through great labour. Therefore saith the mighty preacher Paul: No man is crowned except he strive lawfully. If the greatness of the reward delighted the mind, then the pressure of the struggle cannot make the heart grow faint. Therefore the truth saith to all who would come to him : If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Collect:Almighty God, mercifully look upon our infirmities: that whereas we are afflicted by the burden of our sins: the glorious intercession of thy Martyr and Pope, blessed Martin, may be our succour and defense, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.