|Saint Maurus rescues Saint Placidus by Bartolomeo di Giovanni, ca. AD 1485.|
These two were among earliest disciples of a man who would be known to history of St. Benedict of Nursia.
Writing about 60 years after the fact in his Dialogues, Pope Saint Gregory the Great tells us that Maurus, “growing to great virtue, began to be his master's coadjutor.” Maurus is mentioned as part of several episodes in Gregory’s biography of Benedict as contained in the Dialogues. The best known of these anecdotes runs as follows:
On a certain day, as venerable Benedict was, in his cell, the foresaid young Placidus, the holy man's monk, went out to take up water at the lake, and putting down his pail carelessly, fell in himself after it, whom the water forthwith carried away from the land so far as one may shoot an arrow. The man of God, being in his cell, by and by knew this, and called in haste for Maurus, saying: "Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, that went to the lake to fetch water, is fallen in, and is carried a good way off."
A strange thing, and since the time of Peter the Apostle never heard of! Maurus, craving his father's blessing, and departing in all haste at his commandment, ran to that place upon the water, to which the young lad was carried by force thereof, thinking that he had all that while gone upon the land: and taking fast hold of him by the hair of his head, in all haste he returned back again: and so soon as he was at land, coming to himself he looked behind him, and then knew very well that he had before run upon the water: and that which before he durst not have presumed, being now done and past, he both marveled, and was afraid at that which he had done.
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Coming back to the father, and telling him what had happened, the venerable man did not attribute this to his own merits, but to the obedience of Maurus: but Maurus on the contrary, said that it was done only upon his commandment, and that he had nothing to do in that miracle, not knowing at that time what he did. But the friendly contention proceeding of mutual humility, the young youth himself that was saved from drowning did determine: for he said that he saw when he was drawn out of the water the Abbot's garment upon his head, affirming that it was he that had delivered him from that great danger.Saint Maurus would later become famous in his own right. According to tradition, he was sent by Benedict, in company with several other monks, to found a community in the kingdom of the Franks nearby the Loire River. This became Glanfeuil Abbey and the village which grew up around it became known as Saint-Maur-sur-Loire. In the late 19th century, archaeological excavations were undertaken around the modern abbey, which had been destroyed and rebuilt several times over its history, revealing Gallo-Roman sub-structures.
Sadly, the modern abbey was abandoned in 1901 after the monks were driven out of France. It now seems to be privately owned without much external evidence of what it once was. Alas.
On the traditional calendar, the feast of Saint Maurus is commemorated on January 15 along with that of Saint Placidus. These saints are often confused with others of the same or similar names.