Saint of the Day – 13 April – St Pope Martin I (598-655) Martyr – Attributes Pope holding money, Pope with geese around him (possible confusion by artist with Martin of Tours), Pope in a prison cell.
St. Martin was a priest of Rome who had a reputation for being well-educated and holy. He became the 74rh pope in July, 649. When people were arguing over the truths about Jesus, Pope Martin called a meeting of bishops. This meeting was the Council of the Lateran. It explained clearly what we believe about certain truths. However, some Christians were not pleased about it. Pope Martin knew the Council’s explanations were true. It was his duty as pope to teach people the truth.
Some powerful men did not appreciate Pope Martin’s activities. One such person was Emperor Constans II of Constantinople. He sent his soldiers to Rome to capture Martin and bring him to Constantinople. The soldiers kidnapped the pope. They took him from the Lateran Cathedral and onto a ship. Pope Martin became ill but they continued their journey. In October, 653, he was put in jail in Constantinople for three months. He was given only a little food and water each day. Pope Martin was put on trial, publicly humiliated and condemned to death. But then he was sent back to the same prison for three more months. Patriarch Paul of Constantinople pleaded for the pope’s life. So instead of death, the pope was sentenced to be exiled. Pope Martin was put on a ship that took him across the Black Sea. In April, 654, it landed on the Russian peninsula called the Crimea.
Pope Martin was shocked at the neglect he suffered from those who were in charge of his captivity. He wrote his own account of those sad days. The pope said that he felt very bad to be forgotten by his relatives and members of the Church in Rome. He realised their neglect was driven by fear.
The pope’s exile lasted two years. He died around 655. Because of his terrible sufferings, he was proclaimed a martyr. He is the last of the popes so far to be considered a martyr.