Martin was a kind, gentle child who worked hard for his poor family. He helped other people and animals too.
Yet many people treated Martin badly. He was teased, laughed at or left out. This was just because his skin color was different than theirs. But God loved Martin dearly.
Young Martin learned how to use plants to make medicines. He cured people’s headaches, broken bones, rashes and fevers. It didn’t matter what they looked like, or if they were rich or poor. Martin always helped. Animals came to him too. One day a turkey hobbled up to Martin, as if to say, “Help me!” Its leg was broken. Martin bandaged it. “Come back each day until it is healed,” Martin told the turkey. And it did!
When he grew up, Martin became a religious brother. Not even there was he always accepted! It was hard for Martin to love himself after years of meanness by others. Still, Martin went on helping sick people, cooking, cleaning and praying. Working in the small hospital one day, Martin heard another brother shouting, “Oh, those mice! They live in here and eat holes in our blankets!”
Just then, a mouse skittered across the floor. Martin tenderly picked up the trembling creature, saying, “Little friend, are you hungry? Tell your friends to live outside near the fence. I promise I will always feed you.” He set the mouse down. It ran under a dresser. Soon other mice peeked out, then ran to the door. More mice came from the closet, the trunks, and holes in the floor. There were ten mice, then thirty, then a hundred and more, all heading for the door! After that, they lived outside and Martin kept his promise to feed them.
The other brothers saw this. They also watched Martin as he prayed, healed more and more people and helped animals. They came to understand just how wonderful Martin was. They now saw what God knew all along. They said they were sorry.
And Martin smiled, and went on doing the work that God had given him.
Now celebrate Martin:
Feasting: Serve cute mice cookies. Using sugar cookie dough, cut out circles, then trim dough so each circle becomes a tear-drop shape. The point of this shape will be the mouse cookie’s nose. Bake these and have children decorate them with frosting, pressing in rounded candies for eyes and nose, almonds for ears, and shoelace licorice for tails and whiskers.
Decorating/Activities: St. Martin’s way with animals resulted in one brother discovering a dog, a cat and a mouse all peacefully sharing food from the same bowl in the kitchen. This can also be symbolic of Martin’s life bringing people of different cultural, racial and economic backgrounds together in God’s love. Using stuffed animals, or creating animals shapes out of modeling play, make a centerpiece showing a dog, cat and mouse sharing a bowl.
To help children symbolize Martin’s role in race relationships, give children lengths of ribbon in various bright colors for them to braid for a bracelet, or give them a variety of beads to string for a necklace. These can be worn as a sign of friendship amongst all people. Children can make additional bracelets or necklaces for others who they feel would like be in solidarity with the children on this issue.
Martin also used herbs for healing. If you have access to lavender, rosemary, etc., tie small bundles with ribbon and give to children.
Prayer: Hold hands and form a circle for this prayer.
Dear St. Martin,
You know what it feels like to be treated badly because of how you looked. Please send your love to everyone who has also experienced this.
Please pray with us that we all learn to be friends and see that each of us is a child of God.