During the reign of Emperor Maximian there was a great persecution of Christians. In the Syrian town of Apamsea, Maurice was superior of the local army. The pagans reported him to the emperor as being a Christian and a sower of the Christian Faith among the soldiers.
The emperor himself came and conducted an investigation. Along with Maurice seventy Christian soldiers were also brought before the emperor among whom was Photinus, the son of Maurice. Neither the emperor’s flattery nor threats could sway these heroes.
To the threats of the emperor, they replied: “O Emperor, there is no fear in the sound and powerful souls of those who love the Lord!” When the emperor ordered and removed their military belts and garments, they said to him: “Our God will clothe us with incorruptible garments and belts and eternal glory!”
When the emperor rebuked them because they despised the military honor given to them by him, they replied: “Your honor is without honor, for you have forgotten God Who gave you imperial authority!”
Then the emperor commanded and the executioner beheaded Maurice’s son Photinus before his eyes to instill fear in the father and in the others. But, Maurice said: “You have fulfilled our wish O torturer and have sent Photinus, the soldier of Christ before us.”
Then the emperor sentenced them to a most inhuman death: they were brought to a muddy place, stripped, bound to trees and rubbed them with honey, in order to be bitten by mosquitoes, wasps and hornets. After ten days under the most painful sufferings, they gave up their souls to God and departed to rejoice eternally with the holy angels in heaven. Christians secretly removed their bodies and honorably buried them. These courageous soldiers of Christ suffered about the year 305 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
ST. MAURICE AND SAINT PHOTINUS, SOLDIERS OF CHRISTOf noble root - of noble vine
The young Photinus; to God a sacrifice, beautiful and well-pleasing.
The father witness as they beheaded his son,
As streams of red blood poured out
Maurice, the father courageous; his heart overcome,
Neither screamed he, nor sorrowed nor a tear shed.
To me dear God, you gave him, he said:
O Good One, for all of your love what better could I give?
Of death, make me worthy as You did Photinus,
You Who, for us, sacrificed Your only Son!
Maurice, of the heavenly kingdom, glorious soldier,
Does not receive a gift from earthly rulers,
But, his company, legion of pride, he encourages;
Before the soul-less idols not to bend,
His company into death he leads and through death to life,
To express this rare beauty, the tongue is too weak.
On our flesh, let the wasps and hornets feed,
Nevertheless, we are not defeated; we are not, O soldiers.
Our blood, let the mosquitoes suck; let them be fed,
On that other side, O my brothers, we shall soon be,
Where all of those reign who fought for the Cross,
We did not betray You! To Christ the God, we shall say.
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