Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Maurus, Abbot

[Saint Maurus]Article

Among the several noblemen who placed their sons under the care of Saint Benedict, to be brought up in piety and learning, Equitius, one of that rank, left with him his son Maurus, then but twelve years old, in 522. 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.

Saint Maurus coming to France in 543, founded, by the liberality of king Theodebert, the great abbey of Glanfeuil, now called Saint Maur-sur-Loire, which he governed several years. 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, in order to prepare himself for his passage to eternity. After two years thus employed, 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.” Saint Maurus is named in the ancient French litany composed by Alcuin, and in the Martyrologies of Florus, Usuard and others. For fear of the Normans, in the ninth century, his body was translated to several places; lastly, in 868, to Saint Peter’s des Fosses, then a Benedictin abbey, near Paris, where it was received with great solemnity by Æneas, bishop of Paris. A history of this translation, written by Eudo, at that time abbot of Saint Peter’s des Fosses, is still extant. This abbey des Fosses was founded by Blidegisilus, deacon of the church of Paris, in the time of king Clovis II. and of Audebert, bishop of Paris: Saint Babolen was the first abbot. This monastery was reformed by Saint Mayeul, abbot of Cluni, in 988: in 1533 it was secularized by Clement VII at the request of Francis I and the deanery united to the bishopric of Paris; but the church and village have for several ages born the name of Saint Maur. The abbey of Glanfeuil, now called Saint Maur-sur-Loire, was subjected to this des Fosses from the reign of Charles the Bald to the year 1096, in which Urban II at the solicitation of the count of Anjou, re-established its primitive independence. Our ancestors had a particular veneration for Saint Maurus, under the Norman kings: and the noble family of Seymour (from the French Saint Maur) borrow from him its name, as Camden observes in his Remains. The church of Saint Peter’s des Fosses, two leagues from Paris, now called Saint Maurus’s, was secularized, and made a collegiate, in 1533; and the canons removed to Saint Louis, formerly called Saint Thomas of Canterbury’s, at the Louvre in Paris, in 1750. The same year the relics of Saint Maurus were translated thence to the abbey of Saint Germain-des-Prez, where they are preserved in a rich shrine. An arm of this saint was, with great devotion, translated to Mount Cassino, in the eleventh century, and by its touch a demoniac was afterwards delivered, as is related by Desiderius, at that time abbot of Mount Cassino, who was afterwards pope, under the name of Victor III. The genuine history of the translation of the body of Saint Maurus to the monastery des Fosses, by Eudo, at that time abbot of this house. The life of Saint Maurus and history of his translation, under the pretended name of Faustus, is demonstrated by Cointe and others, to be a notorious forgery, with several instruments belonging to the same.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Maurus, Abbot”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 14 January 2013. Web. 25 July 2014. <>