magdeburg cathedral

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SAINT MAURICE 

Pic. 13th Century Statue of Saint Maurice from the Magdeburg Cathedral that bears his name.

Maurice was born in 250 A.D. in Thebes, an ancient city in Egypt near the site of the Aswan Dam. He was brought up in the region of Thebes (Luxor—Egypt) and became a soldier in the Roman army. He was gradually promoted until he became the leader of the Theban legion, formed of 6600 soldiers. Maurice was an acknowledged Christian at a time when the Church was considered to be a threat to the crumbling Roman Empire. Yet, he moved easily in the pagan society of his day.

The theban legion, entirely composed of Christians, had been called from Thebes in Egypt to Gaul (a region of Western Europe) to assist Maximian to defeat a revolt by the bagaudae

The oldest surviving"  image that depicts Saint Maurice as a Black African was carved in the 1240s for the Cathedral of Magdeburg, a strikingly accurate depiction of a contemporary armed knight; there it is displayed next to the grave of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. Jean Devisse,The Image of the Black in Western Art, laid out the documentary sources for the saint’s popularity and documented it with illustrative examples. The Cathedral of Magdeburg is the first and oldest standing temple honoring the life of St. Maurice. When the new cathedral was built under Archbishop Albert II of Käfernberg (served 1205-32), the relic said to be the head of Maurice was procured from the Holy Land.