THE DISCIPLES OF ST. MARTIN OF TOURS
Above all, it is necessary to clarify the meanings of the terms nobility (nobilitas) and noble (nobilis) in the fourth century. Timothy D. Barnes stated that « the nobilitas still formed a special group within the senatorial order » : at the time, the nobles were strictly the senators who had reached the ordinary consulate, the mayor of the city, or the mayor of the praetorium, as well as their descendants . There can be no doubt that Barnes was correct, but, as some scholars have indicated, the terms nobility and noble can be used in a broader sense. Ausonius, in his works, claimed an ancient nobility for his family, which was actually curial , while Prudentius, in his poem Crowns of Martyrdom, and Paulinus, in his Poema 21, equaled the adjective ’noble’ to illustris, a position which could be achieved through a series of public positions .
The meaning with which Sulpicius used the term noble’ in section 10.8 of the Vita is not clear. It is logical to consider that he used it in the restricted sense, since in this case, the portrait that he traces of Martinian monasticism in the tenth chapter of the Vita become much more attractive and moving to the aristocrats to whom he is writing (cf. infra for Sulpicius’ audience). But he could well have referred to senators or even the curia. In the attempt to identify who were the disciples of St. Martin, in other words those who professed monasticism under his direction, and what was the social origin of each of them, I will leave open all possibilities.
For the period after the foundation of Marmoutier, between 373 and 374, we have a single and vague report. Sulpicius retorts that a « certain catechumen » (quidam catechumenus) put himself under the direction of St. Martin in his monastery a few kilometers from Poitiers (which later became known as Ligugé), but shortly afterwards, without any transition, alludes to the ’brothers’ who lamented the death of this catechumen . Fontaine suggests that St. Martin’s originally hermetic project was soon transformed into a coenobitic one. Sulpicius does not narrate the origins and the development of the monastery because he was only interested in the miracle worked by St. Martin at that time, thus the abrupt mention of ’brothers’ . At the same time, Sulpicius did not give any indication about the social origin of the catechumen and the ’brothers,’ but if these had been nobles it would have been strange if he had not done this. Sulpicius sought to guarantee the authenticity of the miracles of his hero, indicating, whenever possible, the distinct social condition of his witnesses. We will return to this question later.
In relation to St. Martin’s disciples after his ordination in the Tours cathedral, between 371 and 372, there exist more precise reports :
Anatolius, a « certain young man » (iuuenis quidam), put himself under the direction of Clarus in the hermitage that had been established near Marmoutier . Fontaine suggests, based on his name, that he was of Asiatic origin, probably a pilgrim or a missionary from a pneumatic sect. In addition, he indicated that his name was the same as many Asiatic slaves . I think that Fontaine was right about the social origin of Anatolius. However, it is enough to flick through the first two volumes of the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire  to perceive that Anatolius was also the name of important people in the fourth and fifth centuries.
Belgicus is mentioned by Gallus in Sulpicius’ Dialogues due to his reaction to reading Letter 22 by Jerome . The attribution of the possessive adjective noster to his name suggests that he was a disciple of St. Martin . There is no information about his social origin.
Brice, a native of Tours , was ordained deacon and priest by St. Martin . When the latter died on 11 November 397, Brice was anointed his successor . According to Sulpicius, he, who « had never possessed previously anything of the clergy (he was actually raised in the monastery by St. Martin), raising horses and buying slaves. At that time, he was reprehended by many for having bought not only young barbarians, but also girls of beautiful appearance » . The fact that he had not possessed anything before being ordained a cleric clearly indicates that he was not of an aristocratic origin. He could raise horses and buy slaves thanks to the wage he came to receive after his ordination.
The deacon Cato, « who was responsible for the administration of the monastery, » was a skilled (doctus) fisherman . This skill, certainly acquired before starting his ecclesiastic career, indicated that he had exercised a manual activity and was thus not an aristocrat.
 Barnes, 1974, pp. 445-446
 cf. Barnish, 1988, p. 122
 cf. Salzman, 2001, p. 360
 Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 7
 Fontaine, 1967-1969, pp. 613-616
 Sulpicius Severus, Vita Martini 23.2
 Fontaine, 1967-1969, pp. 994-995
 Jones ; Mardindale ; Morris, 1971, pp. 59-62 ; Martindale, 1980, pp. 83-86
 Pietri ; Heijmans, 2013, p. 213
 Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi 3.3.1
 Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi 1.8.5
 Fontaine, 2006, p. 133 ; Pietri ; Heijmans, 2013, p. 335
 Gregório, Historiarum libri decem 10.31
 Gregório, Historiarum libri decem 2.1
 Gregório, Historiarum libri decem 2.1 and 10.31
 Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi 3.15.2
 Sulpicius Severus, Dialogi 3.10.2