Legionnaire and Martyr
Feast day - September 22
Saint Maurice was the leader of the legendary Roman Theban Legion in the 3rd century, and one of the favorite and most widely venerated saints of that group.
According to the tradition, the legion, entirely composed of Christians, had been called from Thebes in Egypt to Gaul in order to assist Maximian, the Roman Emperor, to defeat a revolt. However, when Maximian ordered them to harass some local Christians, they refused and Maximian ordered the unit punished. Every tenth soldier was killed, a military punishment known as decimation.
More orders followed, yet they still refused under Maurice's encouragement. As a result, a second decimation was ordered. In response to their final refusal to use violence against fellow Christians, Maximian ordered all the remaining members of the unit executed. The place in Switzerland where this occurred is now Saint Maurice-en-Valais, site of the Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais.
Saint Maurice is traditionally depicted in full armor, in Italy emblasoned with a red cross. As a result of his unwavering protection of fellow Christians, he became a patron saint of soldiers, swordsmiths, armies, and infantrymen and the Holy Roman Emperors. Also, in 1941 Pope Pius XII declared Saint Maurice to be patron Saint of the Italian Army's Alpini Mountain Infantry Corps.
Prayer to St. Maurice
most blessed and honorable patron saint,
you who fought so valiantly on the battlefield of faith,
steadfastly opposed the tyranny of earthly rulers,
boldly confessed faith in the one true God,
and preferred to die by the sword rather than to
betray your Lord, Jesus Christ,
pray for us.
O holy martyr and loyal soldier of Christ,
obtain for us the courage to persevere in truth,
to be a light in the darkness of the times in which we live,
and to defend the honor of the Church wherever it is opposed.
Obtain also for us the grace to endure patiently
all the trials and hardships of this life,
and to carry our cross in the spirit of prayer and
self-denial. In particular we ask you to obtain for us
from God the following favor:
[Mention your special request].
We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord.