Warrior Saint holding an ensign
The figure of the armed saint dates back to the first centuries of Christianity, and in particular refers to the many soldiers who converted to the religion of Christ or, more in general, to the miles christi, i.e. the soldiers of Christ, every Christian seriously committed to the good fight for Salvation ("For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" Ephesians 6:12-17). Amongst the figures of Warrior Saints who lived during the first centuries of Christianity, worshiped especially in the transalpine region and in Milan, those deserving special mention include St. Maurice, St. Victor, St. Fortunate and other martyred fellow soldiers of the Theban Legion. According to hagiography, the legion, which consisted entirely of Christians, was moved from Thebes to Gaul to assist the emperor, Maximian. When Maximian ordered the repression of some of the Christian Gauls, the legion refused and was decimated, i.e. one out of every ten legionaries was killed. More orders were given but they refused to follow them under the encouragement of St. Maurice, who was their commander. Another decimation was ordered and finally the entire legion was wiped out (6,600 men). The massacre took place in Agaunum, current day St. Maurice d’Agaune, Canton of Valais (Switzerland), where St. Maurice's Abbey stands. In Christian tradition, the Warrior Saint remains a strong figure, the symbol of every believer committed to fighting against the adversities of life, for the love of Christ, through everyday sanctification.