The Monastic Reaction: The Spread of the Monastic Ideal (Part 2)

The History of Christianity #104

Our History of Christianity Scripture passage today is Romans 15:4 which reads: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Seraphim of Sarov. He said: “That I am a monk and you are a layman is of no importance … rather that we are both in the light of the Holy Spirit … Acquire peace, and thousands around you will be saved.”

Last time, in the History of Christianity, we looked at “The Monastic Reaction: The Spread of the Monastic Ideal (Part 1)”.

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Monastic Reaction: The Spread of the Monastic Ideal (Part 2)” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

But the most remarkable example of the manner in which a saintly and monastic bishop contributed to the popularity of the monastic ideal was Martin of Tours. The Life of Saint Martin, written by Sulpicius Severus, was one of the most popular books in Western Europe for centuries and was one of the most influential elements in the shaping of Western monasticism.

Martin was born around the year 335 A. D. in Pannonia, in what is now Hungary. His father was a pagan soldier, and during his early years Martin lived in various parts of the empire — although the city of Pavia, in northern Italy, seems to have been his most frequent place of residence. He was very young when he decided to become a Christian, against his parents’ will, and had his name included in the list of catechumens. His father, in order to force him away from his Christian contacts, had him enrolled in the army. It was the time when Emperor Julian – later known as the Apostate – led his first military campaigns. Martin served under him for several years. During this period, an episode took place that ever since has been associated with the name of Martin.

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