Iste Confessor

Louis Anselme Longa, La charité de saint Martin

Today is the feast of St Martin of Tours - a most influential saint in the history of Europe. I recently read the book about him by the excellent historian Regine Pernoud, published by Ignatius Press. From that book, I learnt that the hymn "Iste Confessor" normally used in the office for Confessors was originally composed for St Martin. The chant for this hymn has stayed in my mind since I nervously intoned it at the Merton conference in the summer.

St Martin cut his cloak in half to provide for a beggar and later saw Christ saying that he had clothed him. The antiphons in the office today constantly remind us that St Martin, when dying, said that if it was necessary for his flock, he would not refuse the Lord's work.

Psallite Sapienter provides the information that Luther, being baptised today, was given the name of this saint.

It is also Remembrance Day today. I have been reading the life of Fr William Doyle, the Jesuit priest who was killed by a shell burst at Ypres while in no-man's-land, to give the sacraments to a wounded soldier. His biography, by Alfred O'Rahilly, is available for download at the Internet Archive.

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