St Maurice

Who or what is Saint Maurice the patron saint of?

Saint Maurice is the patron saint of Infantrymen, Cramp and Swordsmiths. Meanings, definition and origins – According to Catholic beliefs a patron is considered to be a defender of a specific group of people or of a nation. There is a patron for virtually every cause, profession or special interest. Prayers are considered more likely to be answered by asking a patron for intercession on their behalf.

The Story and History of Saint Maurice

Maurice was originally from Austria he enlisted in the Roman army and was promoted to the rank of being leader of a legion (6,666 soldiers) in Thebes (Upper Egypt) – called the Theban Legion. Maurice was a Roman officer of the Theban Legion during the reign of Roman Emperor Maximian, who was Roman Emperor for the Western Empire from 286 to 305. When the Berbers invaded the western borders of the Roman Empire Maximian asked for the help of Emperor Diocletian, the Roman Emperor for the Eastern Empire.

The Berbers were the name of the people of North Africa, west of the Nile Valley. The Theban Legion were ordered to suppress the Berbers, sent to the shores of Lake Geneva, and make sacrifices to the pagan Roman gods to ensure their victory. The leaders of the Theban Legion had converted to Christianity and refused to carry out the order, confessing in public their Christian faith.

The mutiny of the Theban legion led by Maurice was punished by the Roman Emperors by the process of decimation (1 in 10 of all soldiers were killed). This punishment failed to quell the revolt of the legion. Saint Maurice wrote a letter to the emperor declaring the legion’s loyalty to Rome and the Emperor but wished to observe their Christian faith. The Emperor ordered the torture and death of Saint Maurice. The remaining men of the Theban legion refused to turn against the Christian faith and were all killed under the orders of the emperor.

Death of Saint Maurice

There are two categories of saints: martyrs and confessors. A Christian martyr is regarded as one who is put to death for his Christian faith or convictions. Confessors are people who died natural deaths. Date of Death: Saint Maurice died in A.D. 286. Cause of Death: By the Sword.

More information about Saint Maurice

Within the Catholic Church why is Saint Maurice venerated as the patron of Infantrymen, Cramp and Swordsmith’s?

Because of the massacre of the legion.

How Saint Maurice is represented in Christian Art?

It is helpful to be able to recognise Saint Maurice in paintings, stained glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, architecture and other forms of Christian art. The artistic representations reflect the life or death of saints, or an aspect of life with which the person is most closely associated. Saint Maurice is represented in Christian Art in full armour, bearing either the Austrian standard or leaning on the shield of his country. Many of the artefacts representing St Maurive can be seen here.

When is the Feast Day of Saint Maurice?

Within the Catholic Church, the Feast Day of Saint Maurice is September 22nd.

The origin of Feast Days: most saints have specially designated feast days and are associated with a specific day of the year and these are referred to as the saint’s feast day. The feast days first arose from the very early Christian custom of the annual commemoration of martyrs on the dates of their deaths, at the same time celebrating their birth into heaven.

Will the real Saint Maurice, please stand up!

Maurice the African Saint

Saint Maurice at the Madgeburg Cathedral

Depicted as a Black African knight in full armour, this 13th Century Statue of Saint Maurice (carved in the 1240s), is from the Magdeburg Cathedral that bears his name. The Cathedral of Magdeburg is the first and oldest standing temple honoring the life of this Saint.

This is not the only depiction of Maurice as an African Moor/Berber in European Art, there are hundreds. Images of the black saint died out in the mid-sixteenth century, undermined, by the developing African slave trade. “Once again, as in the early Middle Ages, the colour black had become associated with spiritual darkness and cultural ‘otherness’ – Different”.

Also known as Moritz, Morris, or Mauritius he is also a highly revered as a saint in the Coptic Orthodox Church as St. Maurice an Egyptian. Whilst the above article states that Maurice was originally from Austria other sources give Saint Maurice’s place of Birth as Thebes, Egypt.

Depicted in modern times as possessing characteristics of both ethnic groups, his Egyptian origin, in Thebes, is stressed in The *Coptic Greek name “Maurikios” which appears in the papyri and is identical with the later Roman name “Mauritius”, according to G. Heuser in his book Personennamen der Kopten.

In fact, the name is found in epitaphs of the Ptolemaic Egypt and Egyptian Christian periods, and is still used as a personal name in Egypt’s Coptic community.

*Copt: A native of Egypt descended from ancient Egyptian stock, a member of the Coptic Church; from Latin Coptus, From Arabic quft, qubt, the Copts.

*Coptic Church: The Christian Church in Egypt, adhering to the Monophysite doctrine. Monophysite: An adherent to the doctrine held by Coptic and Syrian Christians, this is, that in Christ there is only one single, divine nature.

Read more about St Maurice