15 Jan Saint Maurus, Abbot
Today is the feast day of Saint Maurus. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Maurus (Maur) was the son of Equitius, a nobleman of Rome. He is represented as an abbot with crozier, or with book and censer, or holding the weights and measures of food and drink given him by his holy master. (4)
Saint Maurus was a disciple of Saint Benedict of Nursia at age 12. He studied with Saint Placid. He assisted Saint Benedict at Subiaco, Italy, and at Monte Cassino in 528. (4)
The youth surpassed all his fellow monks in the discharge of monastic duties, and when he was grown up, Saint Benedict made him his coadjutor in the government of Sublaco. Maurus, by his singleness of heart and profound humility, was a model of perfection to all the brethren, and was favoured by God with the gift of miracles. Saint Placidus, a fellow monk, the son of the senator Tertullus, going one day to fetch water, fell into the lake, and was carried the distance of a bow-shot from the bank. Saint Benedict saw this in spirit in his cell, and bid Maurus run and draw him out. Maurus obeyed, walked upon the waters without perceiving it, and dragged out Placidus by the hair, without sinking in the least himself. He attributed the miracle to the prayers of Saint Benedict; but the holy abbot, to the obedience of the disciple. Soon after that holy patriarch had retired to Cassino, he called Saint Maurus thither, in the year 528. (5)
He could heal by prayer, and there are multiple stories of him bringing the dead back to life. At the moment of the death of Saint Benedict, Maurus received a vision of his old teacher travelling a street that led to heaven. (4)
Saint Maurus went to France in 543, and founded the great abbey of Glanfeuil, now called Saint Maur-sur-Loire. In 581, he resigned the abbacy to Bertulf, and passed the remainder of his life in close solitude, in the uninterrupted contemplation of heavenly things. After two years, he fell sick of a fever, with a pain in his side: he received the sacraments of the church, lying on sackcloth before the altar of Saint Martin, and in the same posture expired on the 15th of January, in the year 584. He was buried on the right side of the altar in the same church, and on a roll of parchment laid in his tomb was inscribed this epitaph: “Maurus, a monk and deacon, who came into France in the days of king Theodebert, and died the eighteenth day before the month of February.” (5)
He is the patron of charcoalburners, coppersmiths etc. — in Belgium of shoemakers — and is invoked against gout, hoarseness etc. He was a disciple of St. Benedict, and his chief support at Subiaco. By St. Gregory the Great (Lib. Dialog., II) he is described as a model of religious virtues, especially of obedience. (4)
by Dom Prosper Gueranger:
Saint Maurus — one of the greatest masters of the Cenobitical Life and the most illustrious of the Disciples of Saint Benedict, the Patriarch of the Monks of the West — shares with the First Hermit the honours of this fifteenth day of January. Faithful, like the holy Hermit, to the lessons taught at Bethlehem, Maurus has a claim to have his Feast kept during the 40 days which are sacred to the sweet babe Jesus. He comes to us each January to bear witness to the power of that babe’s humility. Who, forsooth, will dare to doubt of the triumphant power of the poverty and the obedience shown in the crib of our Emmanuel when he is told of the grand things done by those virtues in the cloisters of fair France? It was to Maurus that France was indebted for the introduction into her territory of that admirable Rule which produced the great saints and the great men, to whom she owes the best part of her glory. The children of Saint Benedict by Saint Maurus struggled against the barbarism of the Franks under the first race of her kings. Under the second they instructed, in sacred and profane literature, the people in whose civilisation they had so powerfully co-operated. Under the third — and even in modern times when the Benedictine Order, enslaved by the system of Commendatory-Abbots and decimated by political tyranny or violence, was dying out amid every kind of humiliation — they were the fathers of the poor by the charitable use of their large possessions and the ornaments of literature and science by their immense contributions to ecclesiastical science and archaeology, as also to the history of their own country.
Saint Maurus built his celebrated Monastery of Glanfeuil, and Glanfeuil may be considered as the mother house of the principal monasteries in France, Saint Germain and Saint Denis of Paris, Maimoutier, Saint Victor, Luxeuil, Jumieges, Fleury Corbie, Saint Vannes, Moyen-Moutier, Saint Wandrille, Saint Waast, La Chaise-Dieu, Tiron, Cheza: Benoit, Le Bee, and innumerable other monasteries in France gloried in being daughters of Monte Cassino by the favourite Disciple of Saint Benedict. Cluny, which gave several Popes to the Church —and among them, Saint Gregory the Seventh and Urban the Second — was indebted to Saint Maurus for that Rule which gave her her glory and her power. We must count up the Apostles, Martyrs, Bishops, Doctors, Confessors and Virgins who were formed, for 1200 years, in the Benedictine cloisters of France. We must calculate the services, both temporal and spiritual, done to this great country by the Benedictine monks during all that period, and we will have some idea of the results produced by the mission of Saint Maurus — results whose whole glory redounds to the Babe of Bethlehem and to the mysteries of His humility which are the source and model of the Monastic Life. When, therefore, we admire the greatness of the saints and recount their wonderful works, we are glorifying our Jesus, the King of all Saints.
How blessed was your mission, O favourite and worthy disciple of the great Saint Benedict! How innumerable the Saints that sprang from you and your illustrious Patriarch! The Rule you promulgated was truly the salvation of that great country which you and your disciples evangelised, and the fruits of the Order you planted there have been indeed abundant. But now that from your throne in Heaven you behold that fair France which was once covered with monasteries and from which there mounted up to God the ceaseless voice of prayer and praise, and now you scarce find the ruins of these noble sanctuaries — turn towards our Lord and beseech Him that he make the wilderness bloom once more as of old. Oh what has become of those cloisters in which were trained Apostles of Nations, learned Pontiffs, intrepid defenders of the Liberty of the Church, holy Doctors and heroes of sanctity — all of whom call you their second Father? Who will bring back again those vigorous principles of poverty, obedience, hard work and penance which made the Monastic Life be the object of the people’s admiration and love and attracted tens of thousands of every class in society to embrace it? Instead of this holy enthusiasm of the ages of faith, we, alas, can show little else than cowardice of heart, love of this life, zeal for enjoyment, dread of the cross and, at best, comfortable and inactive piety. Pray, great Saint, that these days may be shortened, that the Christians of the present generation may grow earnest by reflecting on the sanctity to which they are called, that our sluggish hearts may put on the fortitude of knowing and doing, at least, our duty. Then, indeed, will the future glories of the Church be as great and bright as our love of her makes us picture them to ourselves — for, all the Church needs in order to fulfil her destinies, is courageous hearts. If our God hears your prayer and give us once more the Monastic Life in all its purity and vigour , we will be safe and the evil of faith without earnestness which is now producing such havoc in the spiritual world will be replaced by Christian energy. Teach us, O Maurus, to know the dear Babe of Bethlehem and to get well into our hearts His life and doctrine, for we will then understand the greatness of our Christian vocation, and that the only way to overcome our enemy the world is that which He, our Master and Guide, followed. (1)
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us. God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Pray for us. Holy Mother of God, Pray for us. Holy Virgin of virgins, Pray for us. Holy Abbot Saint Maurus, Pray for us. Saint Maurus, first disciple of Saint Benedict, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who from the first dawn of reason didst serve God, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who from earliest youth didst despise the vanity of the world, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who, while yet a child, wast placed under the care of St. Benedict, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who by thy advance in virtue didst gain the particular love of St. Benedict, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who wast regarded as a model of the monastic life, Pray for us. St. Maurus, illustrious for obedience, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who didst walk on the water as on solid ground, to rescue Saint Placidus from the waves, Pray for us. St. Maurus, great lover of fasting, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who in a vision didst perceive the soul of St. Benedict on a path of light ascend to Heaven, Pray for us. St. Maurus, who for forty years didst govern thy monasteries in great sanctity, and finally yield up thy soul in the hands of thy Creator, Pray for us. St. Maurus, great patron of all who invoke thee, Pray for us. That we may follow thy example, Pray for us. That we may be converted to God, Pray for us. That we may know the vanity of the world and fly from all danger of sin, Pray for us. That by keeping the commandments of God and His holy Church we may daily increase in virtue, Pray for us. That we may give a good example to our neighbor, Pray for us. That we may be obedient to our Superiors, Pray for us. That we may despise all earthly good, and practice self-denial, Pray for us. That we may, through charity, love and assist our neighbor, Pray for us. That we may love fasting, Pray for us. That freed from all sloth we may zealously strive to fulfill the will of God, Pray for us. That we may attain the spirit of true devotion, Pray for us. That we may gain the grade of a happy death, Pray for us. That with thee we may love and praise God eternally, Pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world:Have mercy on us, O Lord.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Our Father (secretly). Hail, Mary (secretly).
V. Pray for us, O holy Abbot Saint Maurus: R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. O God, Who through the holy Abbot Maurus didst spread the Order of Saint Benedict throughout. France, and there increase and preserve it: grant us in Thy mercy the grace, that through the merits and intercession of this Thy faithful servant, and all the holy sons of Saint Benedict, the Order may also be spread in our days; and that we may imitate the virtues of Saint Maurus in such a manner, as to gain Heaven, where, in company with the blessed, we may praise Thee for all eternity. R. Amen. (3)
Image: Saint Benedict Orders Saint Maurus to the Rescue of Saint Placidus, by Fra Filippo Lippi, c. 1445-1450, tempera on panel – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA.