Thursday, January 5, 2017


If our family has a patron saint, it must be St. Martin of Tours, in France. Who, by the way, selects one’s patron saint? Must happen at a higher level than down here… To be sure St. Martin was born in what is Hungary today. My ancestors chose his name to supplement their own, calling the family Szentmartoni Darnay, or Darnay of St. Martin. Then our youngest, Michelle, went to Tours as an exchange student and later settled there to go to school and lived just blocks from the St. Martin Cathedral. Before Michelle was born we lived near Trier in Germany, one of the places where Martin served as a soldier on his slow journey toward France. Links upon links.

Michelle did some travelling around Christmas and visited a place about 39 miles south-west of Tours called Candes-Saint-Martin, a tiny village now of under 300 people but with a bishop’s palace where St. Martin was once the episcopus. She sent Brigitte and me each a little lapel pin of a view of Candes-Sain-Martin. A much-enlarged image of that place is shown below.

The picture is the work of Manfred Heyde accessible on Wikipedia (here). The view of Candes is from the eastern shore of the Loire at the point where one of the Loire’s tributaries, the Vienne, enters the larger river. Candes, incidentally, is thought to be a Gallic term meaning “confluence.”

St. Martin was born either in 316 or 336 AD; both years have some support, but controversy surrounds both. I prefer 336. It would mean that I was born 1600 years after St. Martin. He died in 397 either at 61 or 81 years of age. Martin is best remembered in the image of a soldier who, meeting a freezing beggar along a road near Amiens in France cut his own cloak in half so that the beggar could be covered. Life is all about simple acts of kindness. Some will never to be forgotten.

The image above is from Wikipedia (link) by Eva Kröcher, Frankfurt am Main.

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