Maurice was born on 31 August 1910 in La Rosière, a hamlet in the commune of Orsières in Valais, the son of Jean Joseph and Hélène Faustine, née Rossier. The family had eight children: Marie Cécile, Jean Joseph, Louis Antoine, Anne Marie (who died at the age of 2), Marie Marguerite, Joséphine Antoinette, Maurice Nicolas, Anna (Anne Marie).

The village, clinging to the hillside on the right bank of the Dranse, overlooks Orsières, the main town of the commune, with its church, where the parents were married on 9.5.1897 and where Maurice received baptism (11.9.1910), confirmation (6.6.1918) and solemn communion (1923)


The hamlet has a chapel dedicated to Saint Anne, a communal oven for baking bread and, at the time, a school. All around are fields and pastures that make subsistence farming possible, run by humble mountain farmers who are proud of their freedom. In the lower part of the valley, along the Dranse, the road that connects Canterbury with Rome and England with Italy winds through the Great Saint Bernard. Opposite his father's house is the Catogne, which narrows the horizon but is also a landmark for travellers on this north-south route. Above it is a high pasture, Les Crêtes, and still higher an alp, Moay, where Maurice will work as a shepherd.

This is the area where Maurice is most likely to be found.b

On this rough but healthy soil, Maurice grows and develops what enables him to recognise and realise his vocation.