Today is the feast day of St Thomas of Villanova but also of St Maurice and his companions!
|Chapel built at the spot where St Maurice and His Companions were martyred|
St Maurice was an officer in the Theban Legion, a unit in the army of the Emperor Maximian Herculius. This Legion, from Upper Egypt, was entirely Christian, and when Maximian ordered his soldiers at Octodurum (now called Martigny, Switzerland) to sacrifice to the gods as a way of ensuring victory in battle, Maurice and two other officers led the Theban Legion in refusing, and the legion withdrew to Agaunum (now St. Maurice, in the Swiss Canton of Valais).
With Maurice encouraging the legionnaires to remain constant, even after the Emperor had the legion decimated (every tenth man killed), the legionnaires answered, "We have arms in our hands, but we do not resist because we would rather die innocent than live by any sin."
|Cows in the fields were the Theban Legion encamped when they withdrew to Agaunum, now St Maurice, in the Swiss Canton of Valais|
Maximian ordered the rest of his army to kill the Christian legionnaires. The Theban Legion numbered about 6,600 men, but the actual number killed remains unclear. Others were martyred for refusing to share in the spoils of the legionnaires. St Eucherius, a fifth-century bishop of Lyons, noted that many miracles took place at the shrine of these martyrs. They are buried under the Basilica of St. Maurice-en-Valais in Switzerland.
from the Martyrology for today:
At Sion in Valais, at a place called Agaunum, the birthday of the holy martyrs Maurice, Exuperius, Candidus, Victor, Innocent, and Vitalis, with their companions of the Theban Legion, who were massacred under Maximian for the name of Christ, and filled the whole world with the renown of their martyrdom.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger O.S.B.:
Let us unite with Rome in paying honour to these valiant soldiers, the glorious patrons of Christian armies as well as numerous churches.
"Emperor," said they, "we are thy soldiers, but we are also the servants of God. To Him we took our first oaths; if we break them, how canst thou trust us to keep our oaths to thee?
No command, no discipline can overrule our baptismal engagements. Every soldier is bound, in honour and in conscience, to obey the Lord of hosts rather than all human commanders, who are but His subalterns.
Grant, we beseech thee, almighty God, that the festive solemnity of thy holy martyrs, Maurice and his companions, may give us joy, that we may glory in their festival on whose help we rely. Through our Lord.
Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Anne, Therese, I love You; Save Souls!
Jesu mitis et humilis corde, Fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum. (ter)
Labels: Agaunum, Martigny, St Maurice, St Maurice and his companions, Valais