For all those who are familiar with the history and legend of Saint Martin of Tours ( 316/17 -397) this sounds probably blasphemy. But this was not my intention when I decided to focus on a popular legend which came up in the Middle Ages. Martin was the first saint of the young christian church who was not a martyr. He was a humble and ascetic Jedus follower. He was none of the upper class clerics who ruled over the church after it had been declared the official cult of the Roman Empire under Constantin 333. The most famous event of the Martin’s legend is the sheath division when Martin cut half of his officer’s coat and gave it to a poor, naked man shivering in the winter cold. It was Sulpicius Severus , a friend of biographer of Martin who reported this story. Over the centuries followed the artists the doctrine and showed Martin as a splendid knight, while the poor man became less important…
The story of the geese who revealed Martins hiding place when he refused to be bishop of Tours as the common people wished, is no issue of the biography and never became part of the Martin’s theology. Even Jacobus de Voragine didn’t mention it in the ‚legenda aurea ‚. The story reminds of the chattering geese of Rome, fables and fairytales. So why not tell a fairy tale following exactly the biography of Sulpicius Severus? Together with a friend who happened to be pastor of a Martin’s church I studied for more than one year sources and literature of all kinds to end at the geese‘ story. Transforming a saint in a goose was one challenge, another one was converting the biography into a fairy tale. At the end the goose bishop was born!
Axel von Criegern, Der Gänsebischof von Tours, o.J. Tübingen (Gulde).
Axel von Criegern, Meine Bilder, Wasmuth 2009.
Cless& Axel von Criegern: „Bischof Martin von Tours. Ein theologisch-künstlerischer Dialog.“ In: Danner, Gansen,Heyd,Lieber (Hg), Ästhetische Bildung. Perspektiven aus Theorie, Praxis, Kunst und Forschung. BoD-Verlag 2011.
Sulpicius Severus, Leben des heligen Martin; Vita Sancti Martini,; Lateinisch und Deutsch, herausgegeben von Kurt Smolack, Sankt Martins Verlag 1997.
Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea. Aus dem lateinischen übersetzt von Richard Benz, Heidelberg 1984 (ca.1270).
Wolfgang Urban, Der heilige Martin; Sadifa Media Verlags-GmbH,Kehl 2013