The Papal Artifacts’ Collection does not contain a relic of or item connected to Pope St. Martin, but honors him today on his memorial feast: the last martyred pope.
St. Martin I, pray for us!
As for this wretched body of mine, God will look after it; he is near at hand, so why should I be anxious? I hope that in his mercy he will not prolong my course.–St. Martin I
St. Martin, a native of Umbria, became pope in 649. He presided over a council that condemned the doctrine of “Monothelitism.” the claim that in Christ there is only one divine will. Martin, and the orthodox bishops believed this teaching departed from the teaching of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which affirmed the full co-presence of human and divine natures in Christ.
So divisive were these issues that the emperor had issued an edict banning any further discussion of the matter. Enraged to learn that the council had ignored his edict, he dispatched troops to Rome to arrest the pope. Martin was seized and transported in chains on a long voyage to Constantinople. There, after three months of solitary confinement and suffering from dysentery, he was tried and convicted of treason against the emperor. Deposed from office, he was flogged and received a sentence of death, subsequently commuted to exile in the Crimea.
In his place of exile, Martin experienced great physical hardship but suffered more from the sense of having been forgotten by the Church of Rome. He felt truly alone. He died in 655. The Church that had quickly abandoned him was also quick to venerate him as a martyr, the last pope, so far, to have earned this crown.
—Blessed Among Us, by Robert Ellsberg