Emperor Maurice was murdered on November 27 (some say November 23), 602 at the order of Phocas, his successor. It is said that the deposed emperor was forced to watch his six sons executed before his eyes, before he was beheaded himself. Empress Constantina and her three daughters were spared and sent to a monastery.
Maurice's marriage produced ten known children:
- Theodosius (4 August 583 – 27 November 602). According to John of Ephesus, he was the first heir born to a reigning emperor since the reign of Theodosius II (408–450). He was appointed Caesar in 587 and co-emperor on 26 March 590.
- Tiberius (d. 27 November 602).
- Petrus (d. 27 November 602).
- Paulus (d. 27 November 602).
- Justin (d. 27 November 602).
- Justinian (d. 27 November 602).
- Anastasia (d. circa 605).
- Theoctista (d. circa 605).
- Cleopatra (d. circa 605).
- Miriam/Maria (b. ca 582), married to Khosrau II.
(Prologue: November 28)
Emperor Maurice had six sons of which the sixth and youngest was not yet weaned. For this youngest son, the emperor kept a special wet-nurse at court who fed it. A terrible fate came upon Emperor Maurice: Phocas ousted him from the throne and condemned him to death together with all of his six sons. Before Maurice's eyes, his sons were slain, one after the other.
When the wet-nurse had to hand over the emperor's sixth son to be slain, she genuinely felt sorrow over the fate of the unfortunate emperor and his children, and in a moment, decided to save the life of at least one of the emperor's sons. So, when they sought the emperor's son from her breast, she gave them her own young son and he was beheaded. Finally, the Emperor Maurice was beheaded.
The emperor's youngest son grew up believing his wet-nurse to be his mother. However, when the wet-nurse revealed the secret to him, he became very serious, then resolutely left the world and withdrew to Mount Sinai, where he was tonsured a monk and dedicated himself to God. He did this to requite that innocent young child who was put to death in his place.
By St. Anastasios of Sinai
(Concerning the Holy Fathers of Mount Sinai: Ch. 29)
Abba George the Gademite, a venerable man of the old fathers shared what he had seen when he was younger. He said: "A certain brother arrived here to live in detachment, not entrusting to anyone either his homeland nor his name. He was formed in such piety and silence that except in need he did not speak quickly with a man, neither a small word nor great. Having done in two years his work, he departed directly to the Lord, being buried in the tomb of the fathers. The next day another of the fathers died. Opening the tomb to bury him they did not find the body of the brother they had just buried, he being transferred by God to the land of the living.
After this we were curious and someone said that he was the son of the Emperor Maurice who was saved by his nurse when the children of Maurice were slaughtered in the hippodrome by Phoca the tyrant. In the general tumult she took the child and switching them gave her own child to be killed in the place of the emperor’s. When he became a man the nurse told him the thing. And he said he would go and offer himself to God for the sake of the one who was slaughtered for him.