Paris, France, Sep 22, 2023 / 04:25 am
With over 1,500 years of history, the Abbey of Saint-Maurice in the Valais region of Switzerland is the oldest monastery in the West to have remained in continuous operation since its foundation in 515. The building stands on the site of St. Maurice’s martyrdom, celebrated on Sept. 22.
Chronicles tell us little about St. Maurice and his companions, who were killed around 300 A.D. “We know that they died here, that according to tradition they were members of the Legion of Thebes, i.e. from Africa, and that they were martyred for their refusal to obey the emperor’s impious orders,” archivist and librarian Canon Olivier Roduit explained to CNA.
A text dated back to year 430, La Passion des Martyrs d’Agaune (The Passion of the Martyrs of Agaune), written by Bishop Eucher of Lyon, had a major influence, helping to spread the cult of these martyrs throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Numerous villages in Switzerland, France, and Italy bear the name of St. Maurice, and there are more than 1,000 places dedicated to the saint worldwide.
Around the year 380, Theodule, the first known bishop of the Valais region, found the relics of the martyrs under the cliff and built the first church in their honor, as stated on the website. King Sigismund then founded the abbey in 515, instituting perpetual prayer on the site.