Feast day: September 22
Saint Maurice was a soldier and the first Black saint to be canonized. He was an officer of the Theban Legion of Emperor Maximian’s army, which was made up of Christians from Upper Egypt. When Maurice and his fellow soldiers were ordered to sacrifice to gods to ensure victory in battle, they refused and left their encampment.
Emperor Maximian had the entire Theban Legion put to death for refusing—more than 6,000 men. (Some historians believe that many of the soldiers escaped.) Maurice and his fellow officers encouraged the other soldiers to remain faithful to the one true God.
The place of this martyrdom was in Switzerland and was named Saint-Maurice, which is also the site of the Abbey of Saint Maurice. The Abbey still exists and is the site of a secondary school (high school). Also known as St. Moritz, the town is a famous ski resort and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice.
In 1996, the Order of Saint Maurice was established, honoring those who have in some way served the infantry of the United States Army.
(Image in public domain-100)