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“Truth is sacred; and if you tell the truth too often nobody will believe it.”-Chesterton
13 November 2017

Why Popes Become Martyrs: Saint Martin, The Pope Who Was Starved To Death For The Faith

Mandeville, LABy Mike Church

If the battered and bruised Mystical Body of Christ were to raise one man like St Martin I, the errors and diabolical dominance of today would recoil in horror for fear that the crown of martyrdom were prized and desired again.

Saint Martin took his name from Saint Martin of Tours when he was elected Pope in 649. Almost immediately after his election, St Martin was forced to confront the enduring heresy of the Monotehlites. St Martin convened an ecumenical council of 105 bishops to refute the Monotholite heresy.

ST. MARTIN was a native of Todi in Tuscany, and became renowned in the clergy of Rome for his learning and sanctity. Whilst he was deacon of that church he was sent by Popa Theodorus in quality of apocrisiarius or nuncio to Constantinople, where he showed his zeal against the reigning heresy of the Monothelites. Upon the death of Theodorus, after a vacancy of near three weeks, Martin was elected pope in July, 649, and, in the October following, held in the Lateran church a council of one hundred and five bishops, against the Monothelites, in which he condemned the ringleaders of that sect, particularly Sergius and Pyrrhus, who had been formerly bishops of Constantinople, and Paul, who was then in possession of that see. (from Rev. Alban Butler’s Lives of The Saints, Fathers and Martyrs)

The emperor of Constantinople, Constans, who defended the Monothelites accused Pope Martin of heresy and sent an army to arrest him at Rome and bring him to stand trial but Martin was defended by all the clergy in Rome who told the soldiers “anathema to him who shall say that Pope Martin hath changed any point of faith, and to him who perseveres not in the Catholic faith till death.” Under cover of darkness, the soldiers snuck into the papal palace, abducted Pope Martin and imprisoned him on the island of Naxos. After a year, Martin was then taken to Constantinople where he was accused of heresy, stripped and chained and forced to walk naked through Constantinople and then imprisoned in a dungeon. St Martin wrote from his dungeon cell showing his meekness and acceptance of filthy ignominy for the Catholic Faith.

“It is now forty-seven days since I have been permitted to wash myself either in cold or warm water. I am quite wasted and chilled, and have had no respite either upon sea or land from the flux which I suffer. My body is broken and spent, and, when I would take any nourishment, I want such kind of food as is necessary to support me; and have a perfect aversion and loathing to what I have. But I hope that God, who knows all things, when he shall have taken me out of this world, will bring my persecutors to repentance.

After being formally condemned for refusing to accept the monothelite heresy, Martin was banished to Taurica Chersonesus in present day Crimea where he died of starvation on the 15th of September, 655. Writing of his captors and his plea that they repent for their sins against The Church. Note the humility of Saint Martin.

“We are not only separated from the rest of the world, but are even deprived of the means to live. The inhabitants of the country are all pagans; and they who come hither, besides their learning the manners of the people of the country, have no charity, nor even that natural compassion which is to be found among barbarians. Neither do they bring anything from other places in the barks which come hither to be loaded with salt; nor have I been able to buy any thing but one bushel of corn, which cost me four gold pence. I admire the insensibility of all those who have heretofore had some relation to me, who have so entirely forgot me, that they do not so much as seem to know whether I am in the world. I wonder still more at those who belong to the church of St. Peter, for the little concern they show for one of their body. If that church has no money, it wants not corn, oil, or other provisions, out of which they might send us some small supply. What fear hath seized all these men, which can hinder them from fulfilling the commands of God, in relieving the distressed? Have I appeared such an enemy to the whole church, or to them in particular? However, I pray God, by the intercession of St. Peter, to preserve them steadfast and immovable in the orthodox faith. As to this wretched body, God will have care of it. He is at hand; why should I give myself any trouble? I hope in his mercy, he will not prolong my course.”

Saint Martin the 1st’s relics still lay at the church of St Martin of Tours in Rome. Monthelitism, which produced a schism between the eastern and western churches was finally refuted by the 6th Ecumenical Council in 680 and Church unity was restored. His love for Faith and his zeal to defend and promote it in the face of horrifying tortures unthinkable of today. If the battered and bruised Mystical Body of Christ were to raise one man like St Martin I, the errors and diabolical dominance of today would recoil in horror for fear that the crown of martyrdom were prized and desired again.

Pope Saint Martin, oremus.

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