Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of Sulpitius Severus.: Chapter IX. High Esteem in which Martin was held.
High Esteem in which Martin was held.
Nearly about the same time, Martin was called upon to undertake the episcopate of the church at Tours; 21 but when he could not easily be drawn forth from his monastery, a certain Ruricius, one of the citizens, pretending that his wife was ill, and casting himself down at his knees, prevailed on him to go forth. Multitudes of the citizens having previously been posted by the road on which he traveled, he is thus under a kind of guard escorted to the city. An incredible number of people not only from that town, but also from the neighboring cities, had, in a wonderful manner, assembled to give their votes. 22 There was but one wish among all, there were the same prayers, and there was the same fixed opinion to the effect that Martin was most worthy of the episcopate, and that the church would be happy with such a priest. A few persons, however, and among these some of the bishops, who had been summoned to appoint a chief priest, were impiously offering resistance, asserting forsooth that Martins person was contemptible, that he was unworthy of the episcopate, that he was a man despicable in countenance, that his clothing was mean, and his hair disgusting. This madness of theirs was ridiculed by the people of sounder judgment, inasmuch as such objectors only proclaimed the illustrious character of the man, while they sought to slander him. Nor truly was it allowed them to do anything else, than what the people, following the Divine will, desired 23 to be accomplished. Among the bishops, however, who had been present, a certain one of the name Defensor is said to have specially offered opposition; and on this account it was observed that he was at the time severely censured in the reading from the prophets. For when it so happened that the reader, whose duty it was to read in public that day, being blocked out by the people, failed to appear, the officials falling into confusion, while they waited for him who never came, one of those standing by, laying hold of the Psalter, seized upon the first verse which presented itself to him. Now, the Psalm ran thus: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise because of thine enemies, that thou mightest destroy the enemy and the avenger.” 24 On these words being read, a shout was raised by the people, and the opposite party were confounded. It was believed that this Psalm had been chosen by Divine ordination, that Defensor 25 might hear a testimony to his own work, because the praise of the Lord was perfected out of the mouth of babes and sucklings in the case of Martin, while the enemy was at the same time both pointed out and destroyed.
The Turones occupied territory on both sides of the river Loire. Cæsar refers to them (Bell. Gall. ii. 35, &c.). Their chief town was named Cæsarodunum, the modern Tours.8:22
It is clear from this passage that the people at large were accustomed in ancient times to give their votes on the appointment of a bishop.8:23
We here adopt Halms reading “cogitabat,” in preference to the usual “cogebat.”8:24
Ps. viii. 3.8:25
The word translated “avenger” in the English A.V. is “defensor” in the Vulgate, and thus the man referred to would have seemed to be expressly named.
Next: Chapter X. Martin as Bishop of Tours.
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