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Orthodox icon of Saint Maurice.
Commemorated Sept 22.
St. Maurice was captan of a legion of soldier who were martyred in the year 286 for their faith in Christ. He and Sts. Exuperius, Candidus, Victor, Innocent, and their 6,600 companions were sent from Egypt to Agaunum (15 miles from Lake Geneva) to put down a rebellion against Roman authority. When the commander ordered sacrifices and oaths in preparation for battle, the whole legion refused to honor the pagan Gods. Maurice encouraged them to remain true to their faith in Christ.
When Emperor Maximian who was in a near-by place called Octudurum. heard this news, he repeatedly commanded them to obey his rules and orders. After their constant and unanimous refusal, he ordered the legion to be "decimated". At first every tenth man was put to death hoping to bring the other to obey out of fear. Since they stood firm to their faith a second "decimation" was ordered but they all declared that they would never allow themselves to carry out such a sacrilegious order.
They had all been brought up as christians and were instructed in the One Eternal God and were ready to suffer extreme penalties rather than do any thing contrary to their religion. Saint Maurice has always been one of the most popular saints in Western Europe, with over 650 foundations in his name in France alone. Five cathedrals, innumerable churches, chapels and alters are consecrated in his name all over Europe. Aguanum (Saint Maurice en Valais) has always remained the main focus of veneration of the Thebans and a significant pilgrimage resort. In the monastery that bears his name there, the monks perform a special devotion to the saints every day.