Quodam itaque tempore, cum iam nihil praeter arma et simplicem militiae vestem haberet, media hieme, quae solito asperior inhorruerat, adeo ut plerosque vis algoris exstingueret, obvium habet in porta Ambianensium civitatis pauperem nudum: qui cum praetereuntes ut sui misererentur oraret omnesque miserum praeterirent, intellegit vir Deo plenus sibi illum, aliis misericordiam non praestantibus, reservari. quid tamen ageret? nihil praeter chlamydem, qua indutus erat, habebat: iam enim reliqua in opus simile consumpserat. arrepto itaque ferro, quo accinctus erat, mediam dividit partemque eius pauperi tribuit, reliqua rursus induitur. interea de circumstantibus ridere nonnulli, quia deformis esse truncatus habitu videretur: multi tamen, quibus erat mens sanior, altius gemere, quod nihil simile fecissent, cum utique plus habentes vestire pauperem sine sui nuditate potuissent. nocte igitur insecuta, cum se sopori dedisset, vidit Christum chlamydis suae, qua pauperem texerat, parte vestitum. intueri diligentissime Dominum vestemque, quam dederat, iubetur agnoscere. mox ad angelorum circumstantium multitudinem audit Iesum clara voce dicentem: “Martinus adhuc catechumenus hic me veste contexit.” vere memor Dominus dictorum suorum, qui ante praedixerat: “quamdiu fecistis uni ex minimis istis, mihi fecistis,” se in paupere professus est fuisse vestitum: et ad confirmandum tam boni operis testimonium in eodem se habitu, quem pauper acceperat, est dignatus ostendere.
(Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 3.1-4)
One day then, in the middle of a winter more bitterly cold than usual (so much so that many perished as a result of the severity of the icy weather) when Martin had nothing with him apart from his weapons and a simple military cloak, he came across a naked beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens. The man begged the people who were passing to have pity on him but they all walked past him. Then Martin, who was filled with God’s grace, understood that this man had been reserved for him, since the others were not showing him any mercy. But what was he to do? He had nothing apart from the cloak he was wearing, for he had already used up the rest of his things for a similar purpose. So he seized the sword which he wore at his side, divided the cloak in two, gave half to the beggar and then put the remaining piece on again. Some of the bystanders began to laugh because he looked odd with his chopped-up cloak, but many who were more sensible sighed deeply because they had not done the same despite the fact that, because they had more than Martin, they could have clothed the beggar without themselves being reduced to nakedness. The following night, therefore, when Martin had fallen asleep, he saw Christ clothed in the part of his cloak which he had used to cover the beggar. He was told to look very carefully at the Lord and to recognize the clothing which he had given. Then he heard Jesus saying in a clear voice to the host of angels standing all around: ‘Martin who is still a catechumen covered me with this cloak.’ Undoubtedly, when the Lord declared that He Himself was clothed in the person of this beggar, He was recalling His own words for he had once said: ‘As often as you do this to one of the least, you have done it to me.’ [Matt. 25:40] And he deigned to reveal himself in the clothing which the beggar had received in order to confirm His witness to such a good deed. (tr. Carolinne White)