Saint Maurice is venerated as a Black Christian Martyr.
The Legend Of Saint Maurice: Early Black Christian Martyr
Before acquiring his status as an early Black Christian Martyr, Saint Maurice commanded the Thebian Roman Legion based in Roman Egypt
The story of the legend of Saint Maurice the early Black Christian Martyr began in 287 AD when the Theban Legion received Orders from Emperor Maximian Hereculeus to march to Agaunum in Switzerland.
However, when Emperor Maximian ordered Saint Maurice and his Legion to harass the Christians of Agaunum, Saint Maurice and his Legion reportedly refused to attack fellow Christians.
In response to Saint Maurice’s defiance of Maximian’s Orders, the Roman Emperor Maximian punished the rebellious soldiers led by Saint Maurice by separating them into groups of ten.
Thereafter, the Emperor chose one soldier from each group to be killed.
But Saint Maurice and his Legion still defied the Emperor’s Orders to harass the Christians of Agaunum until the Emperor was forced to kill the entire Legion of 1000 Men under the command of Saint Maurice which created the legend of Saint Maurice the Black Christian Martyr after he was Martyred with the Theban Legion at Agaunnum.
Today, the Swiss Town of Agaunum where Saint Maurice became an early Black Christian Martyr is named in honour of Saint-Maurice its legendary Black Christian Martyr.
Some Historians contend that the story of Saint Maurice the Black Christian Martyr is a myth created by the Medieval Church because until the mid-thirteenth century Saint Maurice was shown as a white Roman Solider until the refurbishment of Magdeburg’s Sanctuary in 1240-1250.
It was only after it was destroyed by fire, the Saint Maurice was portrayed as a Black Christian Martyr.
However, the fact that St. Maurice was from Egypt means that he was probably a Black African described as “Ethiopian” in the Middle Ages a term used as a generic description for all dark-skinned people from Africa.
In churches all over modern-day Germany the image of Saint Maurice the Black Christian Martyr can still be found displayed, however other Churches in Switzerland, France, and Italy still portray Saint Maurice as White.
The image of Saint Maurice as a Black Christian Martyr was so important it formed part of the Royal Insignia used at Crownings of the Emperors of Austria-Hungary.
In the final analysis, the story of Saint Maurice the Black Christian Martyr represents an interesting case for the African presence in Medieval Europe.