Leading up to the 2011 After the Yellow Ribbon event put on by Duke Milites Christi, Fr. Bill McNichols worked with me and a small group of students in commissioning the amazing icon to the left of Saint Martin, who would go on to become Bishop of Tours in modern day France. Martin was known to have told Caesar Julian, the most powerful man in the known world (and his own commander-in-chief); “I am a soldier of Christ. I will not fight” when he first found himself on the field of battle in Worms. His declaration came after nearly 25 years in the Roman army, a reminder for all soldiers of Christ that faith and service sometimes correlate, but often collide. When they do, Martin reminds us that we serve God and country, in that order.
In this icon, Martin is depicted in his military attire with a sword that has been broken by the power of the Cross. Fr. Bill commented that he had never before used so much gold leaf in writing an icon, a testimony to the richness of character we find in the life of Martin. As a part of the commissioning process, I was asked to write a short reflection on Martin’s life and significance, which you can find below. The complete prayer card can be found on Fr. Bill’s website; www.fatherbill.org. The icon was dedicated on Martin’s feast day, November 11th, 2011 in Duke University’s Goodson Chapel, with the Rev. Dr. Jo Bailey Wells as celebrant. I was honored to have given the homily, which you can read on this blog.