Martin of Tours, also known as Martin the Merciful, was the third bishop of Tours in 371 AD. He has been heralded as the patron saint of the Third Republic of France. The basilica itself was consecrated some 100 years after his appointment, in 471 AD. It began as a monastery under the Abbot of Saint Martin, then becoming a collegiate church under the control of cannons. Regrettably this initial iteration of the church was destroyed during the revolution, but the present church was built between 1886 and 1924 by French architect Victor Laloux. The style in which it is built is neo-Byzantine.
Charlotte tells me that Dominicans are referred to as ‘Dominicanes’ ie: God’s dogs / hounds of the Lord. I have asked her whether I may call myself a Rosary Hound and I think she has given her assent. In any case, being so inclined to pray the rosary, I was of course drawn to the beautiful Mary statue in the back left corner of the basilica. You can see it above. Charlotte and I prayed for a few minutes here before descending into the tomb of St Martin.
The tomb was a restful place, beautifully adorned with marble and a small sepulchre, which I found quite exquisite. Charlotte noted how peaceful the tomb was. What is missing from this photograph is the beautiful stone arches surrounding the tomb itself. The Crypt was beautiful. French families and patrons of the church have paid to have their names put on bricks around the sepulchre. I do not know how I feel about this practice. There was something in the Bible about a den of thieves but one must not be too literal.
I highly recommend you visit this church if you have the time. Tours is a beautiful city, clean and consistent. The basilica was one of our highlights of the trip.