Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr – Feast Day – April 13

Today is Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Memorial of Pope Saint Martin I

Pope Saint Martin I Date of Birth, Country of Birth, Profession, Place of Work, Date of Death, Place of Death, Feast Day, Beatification Date, Canonization DateMatrimony/Holy OrdersPope who became Saints

Pope Saint Martin I brief life History

Date of Birth 21 June 598
Country of Birth Italy in Europe
Profession Pope
Place of Work Rome, Italy
Date of Death 16 September 655
Place of Death Cherson, Byzantine Empire
Feast Day April 13
Beatification By Pre-Congregation
Canonization By Pre-Congregation
Patron Saint of

Pope Saint Martin I Short life History

After being elected the Bishop of Rome, today’s saint called a local Council which established the correct theology of the Church regarding the two wills of Christ. For doing this, he was abducted in Rome by emissaries of the Roman Emperor, brought to Constantinople, and humiliated. Martin refused to retract, or otherwise bend to, the Emperor Constance’s incorrect theology holding that Christ had one will. Martin was maltreated, demeaned, and exiled to the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea. And there the Pope died—naked, starving, abandoned, and alone—far from Rome, in the year 655, a forgotten martyr to orthodox theology.

The Council of Chalcedon, in 451, had synthesized centuries of theological debate by teaching, authoritatively, that the divine nature of the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, and the human nature of Jesus were distinct but united in one person. This is called the hypostatic union. The Son of God, then, did not fake becoming a man. He truly took flesh and experienced all things, save sin, that a man experiences. So when Jesus said “I thirst” (Jn. 19:28), he didn’t mean to say, “Just my human nature is thirsty.” And when his majestic voice echoed off the stone walls of Bethany, saying, “Lazarus, Come Out,” he didn’t mean to say, “The divine nature inside of me, and only the divine nature, says ‘Lazarus, Come Out’” (Jn 11:43).

Yet Eastern Christians, primarily in Egypt and Syria, clung to a Monophysite, or one nature, theology of Jesus Christ long after Chalcedon had settled the matter. By the seventh century, some Eastern theologians, supported by the Emperor in Constantinople, shifted from arguing for a one natured Christ to arguing for a one willed Christ, as the issue of Christ’s will(s) had never been formally resolved. The one will heresy is called Monothelitism (monos = one; thelos = will). Monothelitists argued that if Christ’s two natures could seamlessly unite in one person, then so could His two wills.

Chalcedon’s teaching on Christ’s two natures was ontological, meaning it was an explanation of the very nature of things. But this ontological definition did not explain, nor try to, what two natures in one person meant on a practical level. How does a person operate with a dual intellect and a double will? One answer to this practical question argued that there was no human will in Christ because it was totally subsumed into the mightier divine will. This was not possible, theologically, as a Christ without a functioning human will would have been a ghost of a man. The other answer argued that Jesus had two spheres of willing inside of him. This solution would have made Christ into a schizophrenic, which was equally impossible.

After Martin’s death, the theology of the two wills defined by the Third Council of Constantinople, in 681, was that Christ’s human will was “in subjection to his divine and all-powerful will.” That is, Christ’s two wills were separate in their nature but freely united in their object. How do two wills inside one person enter into communion? In the same way that two wills in two different persons enter into communion. Each will gives free and independent assent to a principle, idea, truth, etc… shared with the other will. The two wills retain their independence but freely unite in assent to a common value. Jesus’ human will, in total freedom, submitted to the will of the Son of God. Such free submission to the divine will is not difficult to imagine. The greatest saints practiced such submission, and the Church’s highest spiritual tradition encourages all of the faithful to submit their wills to the divine will.

Little is known with specificity about the life of Pope Martin I prior to his election as Pope. But much is known about the larger theological controversy which his suffering advanced towards its conclusion. One of the Popes’ duties is to preserve the unity and integrity of the Church by preserving the unity and integrity of Christ. Martin did that by being martyred rather than submitting to bad theology. The fruits of his martyrdom were harvested after he died, but they continue to be harvested today.

Today’s Catholic Quote:

Pope St. Martin I, through your intercession before the Father in Heaven, fortify all teachers and leaders of the Church to remain steadfast in the truth, to advocate for the truth, and to suffer for the truth, no matter the personal cost.

Pope Saint Martin I
Pope Saint Martin I

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