Saint Maurus the Abbot: The Iconography

In Anjou, Blessed Maurus, Abbot. He was a disciple of St. Benedict, raised from childhood in his rule. He progressed in it so much that it is said he once walked on water (a novelty unseen since St. Peter). Benedict sent him to Gaul, where he built a famous monastery and led it for forty years. He died in peace, famed for his glorious miracles. – Roman Martyrology for January 15

St. Maurus figures in Book 2 of Gregory the Great's Dialogues, which tells of the life of St. Benedict. When Maurus was a young man his father took him to Benedict to be formed as a monk (image). He soon became the founder's coadjutor, and according to a much later text Benedict eventually sent him to set up monasteries in France.1 His most famous miracle occurred when Benedict sent him to save Brother Placidus from drowning in a lake. Maurus ran quickly and when he reached the water he just kept running on the surface (image).

Statues and solo portraits usually have St. Maurus in a black Benedictine habit and with some emblem of his abbatial status. In the first picture at right, that status is signified by the crozier and cope. In paintings Maurus often appears arrayed with other Benedictine saints in their characteristic black habit, as in the second picture at right, or being blessed by St. Benedict, as in the third.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-11-12.

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16th-century fresco (See description page)


St. Maurus (in the abbot's mitre) with other Benedictines in a Coronation of the Virgin (See description page)


Benedict blessing Maurus in an initial C (See description page)

DATES

  • Feast day: Originally January 15. Wikipedia says it was changed in 1969 to November 22; The American Catholic web site Catholics Online says it is January 25.
  • St. Maurus lived in the 6th century.

NAMES

  • In some images St. Maurus is confused with St. Maurice.

HAGIOGRAPHY

  • Golden Legend #49 (Life of Benedict): html or pdf
  • Book 2 of Gregory's Dialogues (see especially chapters 3, 4, and 7)

ALSO SEE

NOTES
1 Farmer, s.v. Maurus, explains that Odo of Glanfeuil's 9th-century Life of St. Maurus erroneously identified Benedict's Maurus with another Maurus who had founded the abbey at Glanfeuil.