The most famous legend is concerning the Martin's cloak, at the time when he was an officer of the roman cavalry in Gaul. In winter, while he was riding with his soldiers along the city of Amiens in Gaul, he saw a naked beggar, suffering from hunger and cold. Martin took his military cloak of wool, cut it in half with his sword and gave ona part to the poor. His action was mocked by his fellow soldiers.
The same night Martin dreamed that Jesus gave him back the half of the cloak and said to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clothed me." Upon awakening Martin saw that his coat was intact.
This miracle, that was crucial for Martin's faith and future, had a consequence that the coat became a relic honored even by the King of France. The Latin word “capella” actually means the military short coat, and from it originated the modern word “chapel” as the name for a sacred building in a palace or church for a specific cult. Thus, a chapel was dedicated to St. Martin, and his cloak was guarded by the royal chaplains, a tradition that would be continued also by Charlemagne in Aachen Palatine Chapel.
The same legend of the cloak gave origin to the phrase "St. Martin's Summer", or "Indian Summer", indicating the period of autumn when the weather becomes sunny and milder, before the winter months begin in earnest.
According to the "Golden Legend" of Jacobus de Varagine, St. Martin, after his charity to the poor, realized that it had stopped raining and the wind had calmed. The sky became clear and the sun began to warm the earth.
Martin and the geese
The legend tells that Bishop Hilary (later St. Hilary) wanted to elect Martin as bishop for his merits. But Martin lived as a hermit in the woods and avoided cities and major roads, preferring to stay with country people in Gaul and to live isolated in a convent.
When the city of Tours needed a new bishop, people asked for Martin, so Hilary took the advantage and sent for Martin. But the latter was warned in time, so he hid in the shelter of the geese in his monastery. The geese, however, began to scream and make noise, so that they let Martin be recognized and taken to Tours, where he was nominated bishop.