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St. Maurice



Leader (primicerius) of the Theban Legion, massacred at Agaunum, about 287 (286, 297, 302, 303), by order of Maximian Herculius. Feast, 22 Sept. The legend (Acta SS., VI, Sept., 308, 895) relates that the legion, composed entirely of Christians, had been called from Africa to suppress a revolt of the Bagandæ in Gaul. The soldiers were ordered to sacrifice to the gods in thanksgiving but refused. Every tenth was then killed. Another order to sacrifice and another refusal caused a second decimation and then a general massacre. (On the value of the legend, etc., see Agaunum and Theban Legion.) St. Maurice is represented as a knight in full armour (sometimes as a Moor), bearing a standard and a palm; in Italian paintings with a red cross on his breast, which is the badge of the Sardinian Order of St. Maurice. Many places in Switzerland, Piedmont, France, and Germany have chosen him as celestial patron, as have also the dyers, clothmakers, soldiers, swordsmiths, and others. He is invoked against gout, cramps, etc.

See CHEVALIER, Bio-Bibl., s.v.; Histor. Jahrbuch, XIII, 782.

FRANCIS MERSHMAN








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