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Lighting the way of kindness

Tenterfield's German roots received some cultural resurgence last Saturday as the legend of St Martin of Tours was observed.

St Martin is known for coming across a pauper dressed in rags in the dead of winter. He sliced his red cloak in half with his sword to share it with the pauper. Legend has it that he dreamed that night of Jesus wearing the half-cloak, or alternatively that the cloak was found restored to its original state in the morning.

Christian Uhrig of Rosenhof Cafe said St Martin is honoured at German schools every year, and he was keen to host a local rendition.

In cahoots with Laynee Taylor, under the guise of Friends of St Martin Lantern Walk, the duo convened the event on Saturday with Mrs Taylor roping in husband Aaron to play the pauper with Peter Zeller on horseback as St Martin.

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To remain COVID-compliant it had to be a private affair and entirely outdoors, with invitations extended to 50 children and their families. Mrs Taylor said around 47 were able to make it on the day, which was commendable given the cold weather and reminders not to come if feeling unwell.

In the lead up she led a number of workshops at Taylors Cafe where children made lanterns for the occasion.

The sharing of the cloak was re-enacted by Mr Taylor and Mr Zeller, while Mr Uhrig shared German stories with the children. Everyone then set off on the lantern walk, around Millrace so that residents could watch through their windows.

On the return to Rosenhof everyone was treated to hot chocolate and frankfurters with musical accompaniment no less, and a great time was had by all, according to Mrs Taylor.

She said this was a trial run, with organisers keen for the occasion to became an annual public event.

She said honouring St Martin is about lighting up the world with light and kindness, hence the lanterns.

"I can't wait until next year," she said.

Proceeds of around $500 from the small participation charge will be donated to a local cause yet to be determined, with suggestions coming from participants.

The legend of St Martin's cloak may have more of an impact on our lives than we know. The encounter with the pauper happened when Martin, then a solider in the Roman army, was on the outskirts of Amiens in France. The part cloak or capa became a religious relic and the priest looking after it called a cappellanu, with all priests serving in the military eventually known by that name. The French translation is chapelains, giving us 'chaplain' in English.

Similarly small temporary churches built for the relic were called capella, giving the word 'chapel' that we know today for small churches.