The Saint Martin of Tours Route
Certified "Cultural Route of the Council of Europe" in 2005
Saint Martin of Tours is one of the most familiar and recognisable Christian saints and has been venerated since the 4th century. He was the Bishop of Tours, whose shrine in Gaul/France was the target of a very important pilgrimage, the equivalent of that to Rome, during the Early Middle Ages, before becoming a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the way to Compostela. For his entire life he tirelessly travelled around Europe, leaving a significant imprint on our collective memory.
The Saint Martin of Tours Route links many European towns which were part of the life of Saint Martin, as well as those with a significant architectural heritage of relevance to his veneration: thousands of monuments are dedicated to him, including fourteen cathedrals! These sites also have an intangible heritage that is still alive in the form of legends, traditions and folklore.
The traveller can follow the routes that relate to episodes of the saint's life, cult or folklore. This large set of routes, covering more than 5000 km across and around Europe bears the general name of Via Sancti Martini. Of special note are 1) the route linking Szombathely (Hungary), the place of his birth, to Tours (France), the place of his grave, via Pavia (Italy), the place of his childhood, and 2) the route linking Tours, where he was a bishop to Worms (Germany) where he left the Roman army and Trier (Germany) where he met the Roman emperor. However, this route also links a great deal of cultural heritage sites on a way going through Austria and Slovakia, and also arriving in Szombathely. Other routes lead to Utrecht in the Netherlands, or to Zaragoza in Spain. Overall, the Saint Martin routes cover more than 12 European countries!
Council of Europe values
The Saint Martin Route represents the value of sharing, symbolised by the Saint's charitable act in Amiens when he cut his cloak in half to share with a poor man who was dying of cold in the heart of winter. Behind this simple concept lies the intention to bring people together, beyond divisions of all kinds, in a single approach: sharing resources, knowledge and values. Indeed, sharing becomes a moral necessity to preserve humanity in the face of the challenge posed by globalisation, demographic expansion, and ecosystem damage.