Sts Maurus and Placid

January 14, 2010

From from Various traditions have developed about these two saints, but the only valid historical data available is what we read in the 2nd Dialogues of Pope St.Gregory the Great. In chapter 3 of the Dialogues, two Roman noblemen brought their sons to St. Benedict for schooling in the Lord’s service.

Euthicius brought his son Maurus and Tertullus, his son Placid. Maurus was the older boy and had already begun to develop a sense of virtuous living.
Placid was still a young child. In chapter 4, Benedict asks Maurus if he sees the devil leading a young monk out of the chapel during private prayer time. After praying for two days the young boy does see him. St. Benedict then chastises the monk and he returns to prayer.

In chapter 5, St. Benedict takes the young boy Placid up the mountain with him to a rocky place where they spend a long time praying for some monks who needed a closer source of water. The following day these monks dug at the spot where Benedict and Placid had prayed and a stream began to flow.
In chapter 6 we again meet Maurus who intercedes for another monk whose work tool had broken, the blade falling into the deep part of the lake. Maurus
goes to St. Benedict to intercede for the man and St. Benedict comes down, puts the handle into the lake, and the blade reattaches itself to the

In chapter 7 of the Dialogues we hear the famous story of Placid’s rescue, in which the boy goes to the lake for water, and filling the jug too
quickly, he looses his balance and falls into the lake. St. Benedict in a vision sees what is happening and sends Maurus to rescue Placid. Maurus runs
across the water and grabs Placid by the hair and runs back to shore. When he reaches the shore he realizes that he had been running across water not
land. This miracle is attributed to St. Benedict.

In chapter 8 we meet the infamous priest Florentius who out of jealousy tries to get rid of Benedict by giving him a “gift” of poisoned bread. When
this fails he tries to entice the monks to sensual sin. St. Benedict leaves to prevent further harassment to the monks. As he is leaving the valley,
Florentius is standing on his balcony jeering at St. Benedict. The balcony collapses and Florentius is crushed to death. Maurus runs to overtake St.
Benedict and tells him that he can return to the monastery because his enemy is dead. Benedict’s response is to severely chastise Maurus for taking
pleasure in this happening.

The Dialogues primarily focus on the life and miracles of St. Benedict, so this is all the factual knowledge we have of Placid and Maurus. Because
there is no further mention of them after Benedict goes to Monte Casino, it is believed that they both remained at Subiaco and subsequently Maurus was
appointed superior of one of the monasteries there.

There has been a tradition which places Maurus at Glanfeuil, France, as its abbot, based on the finding in the 9th century of a parchment describing a
monk and deacon named Maurus who arrived in France at the time of King Theodebert and who died on the 18th of February. There is also a tradition which places Placid in Sicily as abbot of a monastery there. The historic details of both of these traditions is uncertain.

What is more important than biographical details is that both of these young men chose a life in the “School of the Lord’s Service,” which was what Benedict called the monastery. It was a life whose sole focus was to “seek God.” One might ask, “Is this what God is calling me to?”


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