SAINT MARTIN CABALLERO
There are two Saint Martins in the Catholic religion; the recently canonized Saint Martin de Porres and the older Saint Martin of Tours. The latter, known in Latin America as San Martin Caballero, "Saint Martin the Horse-rider," is the one most frequently encountered in luck charms. Born in Hungary during the late Roman empire, he was pressed into service in the Roman army, where he became a centurion, One day, while riding his horse, he chanced upon a near-naked beggar and cut his cloak in half to give the poor man a covering. That night he had a dream in which the beggar appeared to him as Jesus, so he quit the army and became a monk in Italy. He was later promoted to the rank of Bishop of Tours (in France) but always lived a simple life and gave a great deal to charity. Thus Saint Martin is the Patron Saint of those who hope strangers will aid them.
In Mexico Saint Martin Caballero is especially popular among shop-keepers, who rely on the kindness of passing strangers for their livelihood, and among truck drivers, who see in his horsemanship a parallel to their own manner of earning a living. Because the horse he rides is associated with the lucky horseshoe, he is also a favourite saint among gamblers. In Cuba, some Santeros identify him with the orisha Ellegua, probably because the latter is associated with crossroads and hence with travel.
Related pages of interest:
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- Gods and Saints as Lucky Figures
- The Relationship between Luck, Protection, Religion, and Magic
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