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The legendary saint Martin

In every corner of the city, wherever you go, there you'll find the fingerprints of St. Martin of Tours and sites dedicated to his story ...


The Basilica of St. Martin, Marmoutier Abbey, the Tower of Charlemagne, the Clock Tower, the museum... all these are heritage sites linked to this tireless traveller who attract thousands of visitors to our city annually. Events organized around this extraordinary character still arouse a great deal of interest — themed guided tours conducted by tour guides from Tours tourist office, events organised by the Centre Culturel Européen Saint-Martin, and the celebration of the "Summer of Saint-Martin," which takes place in November!

While the complete program for the 1700th anniversary of the birth of Martin of Tours is being developed, let us tell you briefly some of the history of this former soldier of the Roman Empire, who became a Christian saint.

A little history

Born in Central Europe in 316, Martin became a major evangelist in Roman Gaul before being appointed bishop by the Touraine authorities, far from his home monastery of Ligure in Poitiers. Although a palatial residence was made available to him by the city, of which he was head of the diocese for more than 25 years, and though his monastery was one of the most powerful in the West, he preferred to be found in his hermit's cell, dug into the cliff of Marmoutier. A tireless apostle, he created the first rural churches, meeting the both poor and the powerful. At his death, Tours became the third city of pilgrimage after Rome and Jerusalem.


The story of the shared coat

At tthe city gates of Amiens, Martin met with an unfortunate beggar upon whome others had no pity.

Having already distributed all his clothes to the poor, and having no more than his coat left, the soldier cut it in two and gave half to benefit the poor fellow, who was cold...

The following night, Christ approved of this move: "Martin, who has not even been baptised, has covered my person with this garment" he said.


More about St Martin

They say that having been the first to cultivate the vine on the hillside, it was St. Martin who caused the Christian religion to celebrate the "blood of Christ" with wine - each abbey, monastery or church would soon have its own vineyards.

It is said that when St. Martin died at Candes, in November 397, the clerics of Marmoutier sent the precious remains by boat to Tours. As a final tribute from Mother Nature to this great evangelist, the bushes at the edges of the Loire began to turn green, and the birds started singing ... This winter thaw, as sudden as it was unexpected, is celebrated today as the "Summer of St. Martin." in mid November.

Did you know that Martin, patron saint of the city of Tours, gave his name to 3,700 churches, 14 cathedrals, 220 towns and villages in France and thousands of others around the world! Martin is the most common family name in Europe and a very common given name. It is mostly related to the symbol of sharing.


The principal St Martin related sites

St. Martin basilica. Built between 1886 and 1902 by the architect Victor Laloux, it houses the tomb of St. Martin under the choir, and is topped by a monumental statue of St. Martin in bronze. Neo-Byzantine in style, it was built on the site of the former college one of the most important shrines in Christendom. It survived until the Revolution. The extent of its interior decor, decorated and polished marble columns, will astonish you! Walk around - we promise the building won't leave you indifferent!

place-chateauneufPlace Châteauneuf and the CharlemagneTower: This is one of the gems of Touraine heritage, that has seen a thousand years of history pass by its feet! Located in the beautiful Châteauneuf quarter, the tower is one of the last vestiges of the old eleventh century basilica, along with its neighbour, the clock tower. Many times destroyed or burned, and totally collapsed in 1928, the tower was rebuilt between 1960 and 1962. Enter by the Luitgarde arch, and discover a newly developed area on the ground floor.


La tour de l’Horloge: The Clock Tower, also called "Tower of the Treasury" because it was for centuries a centre of collection for donations from pilgrims, it was the south tower of the façade of the old collegiate chapel, now long since disappeared.


 The Abbey of Marmoutier. In this tranquil and picturesque location between the hillside and the Loire, St. Martin founded a small hermitage in the fourth century which was to become a prestigious abbey of considerable influence in Europe. Enjoy a guided tour with a guide from the Tourist Office, and discover the site of Marmoutier and its archaeological remains.


The museum of Saint-Martin : To learn more about the saint's life, visit the old Cloister of St. Martin, today called the Chapelle Saint-Jean, where carved marble, Romanesque murals, Carolingian epitaphs, coins and liturgical objects are displayed.



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