St. Maurice was a Roman soldier possibly born in Africa or Egypt. He was the leader of the Legendary Theban Legion. He and his men were Christian. When the emperor Maximian ordered Maurice and his legion to destroy a Christian village, he and his men refused. Maximian had every tenth soldier killed, a military punishment known as decimation. More orders followed, the men refused compliance as encouraged by Maurice, and a second decimation was ordered. In response to the Theban Christians’ refusal to attack fellow Christians, Maximian ordered all the remaining members of his legion to be executed. The legion was buried in the side of a mountain and every trace of them was destroyed. However, in the 300’s, there was a landslide which opened up the mountain leading to the discovery of coins with Maurice’s likeness as well as tomb inscriptions describing Maurice and the Theban Legion .
The place in Switzerland where this occurred, known as Agaunum, is now Saint-Maurice Switzerland, site of the Abbey of St. Maurice. St. Maurice’s Feast Day is September 22.
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