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San Martin Caballero, Saint Martin of Tours

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St. Martin Caballero astride his horse, handing his cloak to a beggar in need.
St. Martin Caballero astride his horse, handing his cloak to a beggar in need.

St. Martin Caballero also known as St. Martin of Tours is the patron saint of those in need. He is very popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries where he is petitioned by the needy, for gambling luck, financial success, better business, by those looking for a new home or for any endeavor involving travel. He is the patron saint of horsemen oanf of long-haul truck divers. His feast day is celebrated on November 11th.

Martin was born in Roman occupied Hungary in the year 316. At this time Christianity had become a legally recognized religion but it was not popular or widespread. At the age of ten Martin converted to the new religion although he was not baptized at the time. When he turned 15, Martin was required to join the Roman army where he would later become a head soldier for the Imperial Cavalry. After several years of distinguishing himself in battle, Martin had an experience that changed the rest of his life. He encountered a poor beggar and when the man asked Martin to help him find clothes, Martin took his own cloak and tore it in half, giving half to the beggar. After this event, Martin had a vision where he saw Jesus Christ wearing the portion of his cloak and telling the angels that Martin had clothed him. After this vision Martin got baptized and proclaimed himself a soldier for Christ. He stopped fighting for the Romans, and though he was jailed for that he was eventually freed. In his later life Saint Martin became the Bishop of Tours, France, where many miracles and interventions were attributed to him. Saint Martin is associated with money drawing, gambling, and better business work in many Latin American and Mexican countries. This is in part due to the prominence the horse (and horseshoe) has in the Saint's iconography. Because Martin traveled widely and in life was often at the crossroads, he is associated with the Santeria orisha Eleggua.

In his imagery St. Martin is depicted astride a cavalry horse (caballero means "horse-rider") dressed in the regalia of a Roam centurion. He usually shown in the act og cutting his cloak in half and offering a piece to a mostly-naked beggar crouched below him. Because of this, he is called on by those who need the assistance and kindness of strangers. Package amulets featuring his image are very popular in Mexico and in the United States; often the art and amulets associated with him feature horseshoes. In contrast to Irish tradition in which a horseshoe must be hung with the ends upright, horseshoes on these amulets are generally hung with ends pointing down. San Martin's popularity in Mexico is so great that many package amulets made for other saints, and for other purposes than money or business luck, include images of this beloved horseman.

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