Martin of Tours
The soldier traveled on his way
Along a lonely road.
The finest horse at his command,
His destiny was sure.
But then a beggar passed his way
And time was bent askew.
Compassion pulled and stretched the forms
Of man and beast that day.
His side sword meant for cleaving foes
Became a tailor’s knife
So he could half his very cloak
To clothe the naked man.
And there unfolded all the world
With beggar clothed and warm.
The Lord of all creation spoke
Of Martin’s loving act.
The sadness of his countenance
Reveals a new insight
That knows we all share poverty
And thus must share our gain.
The beggar did not make the saint
But helped the soldier see
That his compassion for the poor
Would welcome life anew.
Awakening the saint within
The Roman soldier’s heart,
The path was set for Europe’s best
And all would speak his name.
Image: St. Martin and the Beggar at the National Gallery of Art
Artist: El Greco
Medium: Oil on canvas