History May 21, 2019 at 05:00 pm

Meet the African who became a patron of several European cities after his death in the 3rd Century

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson | Staff Writer

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson May 21, 2019 at 05:00 pm

May 21, 2019 at 05:00 pm | History

St Maurice

Stories about Africans finding their way into the West before westerners settled on the continent have come up every now and then to prove that there was great awareness of life beyond the continent as well as a certain level of interaction between Africans and westerners from near and far.

Maurica as a symbol in the coat of arms of the Brotherhood of Blackheads

His name has been established as Maurice and after his death, in AD 287 he was made a Saint and patron of several European cities due to his dedication to God and the Catholic church. However, it is not certain that his real name was Maurice or Mauritius, the reason being that according to an essay by America historian Runoko Rashidi, his name originates from the Latin word which translates to Moor. This was how he was called until the name stuck.

Born in Egypt and raised in Thebes, an ancient city in Upper Egypt which was then the capital of the New Kingdom of Egypt, Maurice was born in AD 250 and it is possible that he moved to Europe to work with the church going between Europe and his home country Egypt where he worked as the head of the Roman legion in Thebes. His fast rise as a leader soon saw him become an army general leading an army of about 6000 men for the Roman Empire.

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Maurice as an army General in Rome

During his service in Europe and at the time of the Suppression of the Gualz in the upper Rhone valley in Valais, Switzerland, Maurice and his men were commanded by Ceaser to worship the Roman gods as well as a statue of him. At the time of his rule, Ceaser wanted that he be worshipped as a god who ruled over the people rather than Jesus Christ. He was therefore against Christians and the Christain faith as a whole.

Standing by the church and his faith, Maurice refused to obey the command of Ceaser and his army followed his lead which greatly annoyed Ceaser. As punishment, several of his soldiers were killed and he was beheaded. For his loyalty to the Christian faith, he was made a martyr.

His life inspired several European cities in Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain among others and he was made a patron saint of Coburg in Germany where he is more revered and remembered.

Statue of Saint Maurice in Soultz-Haut-Rhin, France

Several scholars and historians have disputed his existence calling his story desperation of the African community to feel included. However, historical traces and sources prove his existence as a black man who became an inspiration for several Europeans to be more committed to the service of God and was made a patron of cities from the 12th century when findings of his existence came to light.

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