Thursday, January 10, 2008

St. Maurice, Patron Saint of Armies

Maurice
Also known as
Mauritius
Memorial
22 September
Profile
Layman. Soldier. Officer in a legion of Christian soldiers from Upper Egypt during the reign of Emperor Maximian Herculius. His legion, as many as 6600 men, was massacred en masse by their own side when they refused to participate in pagan sacrifices prior to battle. One of the Martys of the Theban Legion.
Died
martyred c.287 at Aaunum, an area of modern Switzerland
Canonized
Pre-Congregation
Patronage
against cramps; alpine troops; armies; Austria; clothmakers; cramps; dyers; gout; infantrymen; Piedmont, Italy; Pontifical Swiss Guards; Sardinia; soldiers; Stadtsulza, Germany; swordsmiths; weavers
Representation
banner; soldier; soldier being executed with other soldiers knight (sometimes a Moor) in full armour, bearing a standard and a palm; knight in armour with a red cross on his breast, which is the badge of the Sardinian Order of Saint Maurice

Maurice was an officer of the Theban Legion of Emperor Maximian Herculius' army, which was composed of Christians from Upper Egypt. He and his fellow legionnaires refused to sacrifice to the gods as ordered by the Emperor to insure victory over rebelling Bagaudae. When they refused to obey repeated orders to do so and withdrew from the army encamped at Octodurum (Martigny) near Lake Geneva to Agaunum (St. Maurice-en-Valais), Maximian had the entire Legion of over six thousand men put to death. To the end they were encouraged in their constancy by Maurice and two fellow officers, Exuperius and Candidus. Also executed was Victor (October 10th), who refused to accept any of the belongings of the dead soldiers. In a follow-up action, other Christians put to death were Ursus and another Victor at Solothurin (September 30th); Alexander at Bergamo; Octavius, Innocent, Adventor, and Solutar at Turin; and Gereon (October 10th) at Cologne. Their story was told by St. Eucherius, who became Bishop of Lyons about 434, but scholars doubt that an entire Legion was massacred; but there is no doubt that Maurice and some of his comrades did suffer martyrdom at Agaunum. Feast day - September 22nd.

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