Frequently, this saint is depicted in art with animals surrounding him, animals acting as these would have before the Fall.
Natural enemies are seen feasting together under the peaceful care of St. Martin. Martin loved to take care of animals. Of course, he also took care of people suffering from the plague. He did not run away from danger.
However, his gift of communicating with animals is similar to the gift St. Francis had. Both of these saints could "talk to the animals" and the animals understood them. Francis preached to the birds.
This gift, was also given to St. Lutgard, St. Clare of Montefalco, and Beatrice of Nazareth. Sometimes this gift may be seen as a gift of understanding, such as the gift of understanding people speaking different languages one would not know naturally, as with Fr. Wenslawe and Margery Kempe, among others.
This gift is not to be confused with the satanic mocking of the gift, called xenoglossia, the ability to speak and understand multiple languages without study, which is an indication of possession.
That St. Francis and St. Martin came to a perfection in this life enabled them to be like our parents in Eden.
Perhaps an innocence, or achieved perfection, as well as a deep love and respect for animals, allowed these saints to communicate with lower creatures. Perhaps their love was instinctively felt by those creatures God, as St. Thomas More noted, were created "for our amusement". Being able to talk to and understand animals reminds us of our parents in Eden. The Fall caused confusion and deafness between men and other animals.
We are to care for all of God's creatures and enjoy those pets we have taken on as responsibilities. I am in a country where all the feral cats are fed and housed regularly. The Cats of Malta are famous.
Pray to St. Martin today for two things: for the victims of Ebola and for owners of animals to respect what God has made for us.