Saint Maurice, the commander of the Roman Theban Legion, who did not want to offer sacrifices to false gods

st maurice and companions

Emperor Maximian massacred his best warriors, the Theban Legion, for not worshipping the devil.

st maurice and companions

Newsroom (September 22, 2020 12:10 pm Gaudium Press) Today we commemorate St. Maurice and his fellow martyrs.

Maximian was an emperor who ruled Rome from 286 to 305. He was one of the tetrarchs that ruled the empire, sharing that duty with the infamous Diocletian, who was the greatest persecutor of the Christians, and the last of these emperors.

Maximian spent his life in battles, and one of his main enemies were the Gauls, whom he finally defeated, after many risks and efforts. 

To succeed in this effort, he summoned the Theban legion, so-called because it came from Thebes, Egypt.

Saint Maurice, General, and commander

Tradition tells us that the commander (or Primicerius) of this legion was Mauritius, a noble general. He was summoned from Africa to face these Bagaud Gauls, who were fierce warriors. But the Thebans were even braver and confronted them successfully. 

One day the Emperor decided to burn incense to the gods, something unthinkable to do for many of the Thebans who were already Christians Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was their only true God.

At the first refusal to offer incense to the demons, the Emperor ordered the slaughter of the Theban legion, surely hoping that those who remained, overcome by fear, would deny their faith. But this did not happen, and for that reason, he finally martyred all of them. This massacre occurred around the year 287, shortly after Maximian’s rise to power. 

Tradition keeps the reply of St. Mauritius to the Emperor when he was required to worship the false idols: “We are your soldiers, but also servants of God.” This is the Roman military version of the words of the Scriptures: “We must obey God rather than men.”

Today, in Agaunum, Switzerland, the Abbey of St. Maurice stands at the place where their martyrdom took place. 

With information from the Catholic Encyclopedia

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