Tours, France: Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours
About Saint Martin of Tours:
He was the first French saint to be canonized who was not a martyr. Known as the “Apostle of Gaul”, he was a Roman Legionnaire who reportedly cut his cloak in half so as to share it with a beggar in the freezing cold. He founded the first monastery in France near Poitiers, about 70 miles south of Tours, and was later made Bishop of Tours.
After his death in 397 AD, his body was brought to Tours on a cold November day and the story is told that the sun shone and flowers bloomed, which later came to be called the “Summer of Saint Martin”. Over 2,000 Religious gathered for his funeral. Pilgrimages were held to his burial site at the Basilica in Tours, and it also became a popular resting spot for those making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from the Southwest part of France.
About the Basilica of Saint Martin in Tours:
His cloak was preserved in a building called a capella, from which our word chapel comes. The original church where he was buried was destroyed during the French revolution but has now been replaced with an even larger one.
In one of of the windows (bay 20) in the Chartres Cathedral, you will find a beautiful window with scenes depicting the life of Saint Martin. He is one of four patron saints of France and has many churches both here and throughout the world named in his honor.
Traveling to Tours:
Tours is about 150 miles Southwest of Paris. You can book day trips from Paris that include a visit to the Basilica, a wine tasting and more.
Tours is also easily accessible by train from Paris or other major French cities. If you are traveling from Paris, the high-speed TGV trains (from Montparnasse Station) will get you there in a little over one hour, or the regional trains (from Austerlitz station) will take about two hours, so you can actually make this a day trip if you wish.
The train station is about one-half mile from the Basilica.
Address: 7 Rue Baleschoux, 37000 Tours
GPS coordinates: 47° 23′ 34.1844” N, 0° 40′ 58.8504” E
Tel: +33 02 47 05 63 87 Fax: +33 02 47 05 23 51
email: use the contact form on their website
Click here for the official website of the Basilica of Saint Martin in Tours (in French).