Every March 20, San Martín de Braga is celebrated, a Hispanic bishop, theologian and ecclesiastical writer of Pannonian origin (Pannonia, a region of ancient central Europe), called “the apostle of the Swabians” for his dedication to the evangelization of this people. of Germanic origin. The Suevi settled in Galicia in the 6th century. Saint Martin of Braga is also known as “Martín de Dumio”, “Martín Dumiense” or “Martín de Panonia”.
Stepping in the footsteps of the Savior
The exact date of his birth has not been precisely determined, but it is believed that he was born between the years 510 and 520 in Pannonia (now Hungary). According to Saint Isidore of Seville -his first biographer of him-, Martin’s conversion to Catholicism occurred when he had reached maturity, around the year 560.
Excited with the discovery of faith in Christ, Martin makes a pilgrimage to Palestine marked by the desire to step on, kiss and touch the land where Jesus lived. He initially intended to stay there for a short time, but changes his mind to dedicate himself more to prayer, mortification, and the study of Patristics (the texts of the Fathers of the Church).
From Palestine he headed for Rome, following in the footsteps of the Apostle Peter. In the Eternal City he was able to crown his deep experience of the unity of the Church, something that would mark the rest of his life. After Rome, the saint crosses the land of the Franks, meeting some Swabians. Apparently that meeting was very significant, probably because he hadn’t seen a compatriot for a long time. The unexpected reunion with something that reminded him of his roots moved him to take the next step: Martin is now going to the city of Bracara Augusta (Braga, Portugal) as a missionary; Bracara (Braga) was the capital of the Roman province of Galicia, which had become the capital of the Suebian kingdom.
The Suevi, of Germanic origin, were considered an indomitable people, a constant threat to the ancient Roman provinces. They had traveled thousands of miles within the Empire, leaving desolation in their wake. Once they left their region of origin, they traveled the banks of the Rhin and the Miño; they razed the Franks and crossed the Pyrenees. Finally, the lands of Gallaecia (Galicia) were divided up and they settled in Braga, a city that they made the capital. From there they maintained hostilities with almost all the neighboring towns: they descended to Bética and conquered Seville, in the flat lands.
San Martín de Braga, according to San Isidoro, would arrive precisely to Galicia by sea, coming from Eastern Europe. There he was reunited with his own, people who knew something of Christ, but who had been contaminated by Arianism (heresy that denied the divinity of Christ).
Nothing better than the company of a saint
Wasting no time, San Martin began his apostolic ministry. One of the tasks that he set himself was to achieve the conversion of King Charrarico (Carriarico) -, a Swabian king who had adopted Arianism. The king had a seriously ill son and, wanting to win God’s favor, he sent a group of representatives to the tomb of Saint Martin of Tours, to ask for the health of his heir. The first mission did not achieve the long-awaited miracle, and the king decides to send a new delegation, this time, with an offering in gold and silver of the same weight as his son; moreover, he promised to reject heresy if the saint of Tours would grant him the miracle. Then, miraculously, the young man recovers his health and the king keeps his word, which provokes the conversion of all the Swabian people to the sound doctrine. In the midst of all this process of spiritual purification was Martin de Braga, who had become a faithful friend and adviser to the king. Charrarico would not have opened his heart to the truth without the saint’s testimony, teaching and prayer. In this way, Martin also opened the soul of all the Swabians again to the Gospel.
Transform everything in Christ
In Dumio, a city in the kingdom of Braga, Martin founded a monastery -hence he is also known as “Martin Dumiense”-, which would become a spiritual center from which the faith of the people of God was renewed. Martin was well aware of the need for prayer to spread the Gospel! The Church cannot maintain itself or grow without prayer.
Dumio flourished under the baton of San Martín. Possibly the saint was very familiar with the style of Arles, the French region, and was inspired by it in terms of urban planning. For religious life he followed the rule of Saint Benedict. It was evident that in Dumio the monks govern themselves to the rhythm set by the abbot -and already bishop- Martín de Dumio.
San Martín trains the clergy according to the canons and agreements of the Spanish and African councils; he attends to the material and spiritual needs of the peasants among whom pagan, Celtic and Germanic superstitions abound. He commissions his monk Pascasio to translate “The Words of the Elders”, a patristic text, and he himself translates “The Sentences of the Egyptian Fathers”; He wrote other works of piety, ascetic and doctrinal for his own, such as the “Formula vitae honestae” and “De correctione rusticorum”, as well as some short treatises full of human wisdom and Christian spirit.
Saint Martin of Dumio died in Braga around the year 580.
Do you want to know more about this saint? We suggest you read this article from the Catholic Encyclopedia: https://ec.aciprensa.com/wiki/San_Martín_de_Braga