Feast Day: 22 September
Saint Maurice is famous as he is the first dated African saint.
Maurice was born in AD 250 in Thebes, an ancient city in Egypt. He became a soldier in the Roman army and was gradually promoted until he became the leader of the legendary Theban legion, formed of 6,600 soldiers.
This in itself was already incredible as he was a Christian during a time of great persecution against Christians, but part of it came down to the fact Egypt was a Christian part of the Empire.
The legion was called from Thebes in Egypt to assist the Emperor Maximian defeat a massive uprising in Gaul (Modern-day France). They refused to massacre unarmed civilians as St. Maurice of Africa said wanton slaughter was inconceivable to Christian soldiers. This put them in massive conflict with the Emperor’s intentions and things became worse when it came to fighting with him.
Before going into battle, they were instructed to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods and pay homage to the emperor. Maurice pledged his men’s military allegiance to Rome but he stated that service to God superseded all else, so he and the legion refused to offer sacrifice to the emperor and the pagan gods.
Over time, the emperor decimated the legion twice to try and force them to paganism and compliance with the massacres. As more and more orders were refused, Emperor Maximian grew impatient and ordered that the remaining men of the legion were to be executed unless they accepted his orders.
St. Maurice and the others men chose death rather than give up their faith in God.
Why St Maurice of Africa is inspiring
A reflection from someone in our young Catholic community
Saint Maurice is an incredible example of how openness to God brings great grace into the world. Through openness to God he prevented many of the cruel massacres that were often the Roman way with war.
Even in his death, Maurice of Africa and his companions showed how life with God was so much more important than wealth, honour, power or pleasure.
He also really inspires me in the way that he relied upon his conscience to do the right thing, rather than cave into the social pressures that were being put upon him. He’s a great example as he went completely against the social norms of even now by refusing the orders of his job, instead deciding upon death rather than compromise his beliefs.
Both these things are a testament to the necessity of faith both in our personal lives but also in our actions with others.