theban legion

Domenikos Theotoopoulos (El Greco) - Martyrdom of Saint Maurice; San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain; c,1580 - 1582

Saint Maurice was said to have been the leader of the legendary Theban Legion. According to legend, the Legion– composed of some 6,600 soldiers, all of them Christian, was called from Thebes in Egypt to help quell a rebellion in Gaul. Not wanting to be at war with their fellow Christians, Maurice and his company refused, whereupon they were made subject to cruel punishments, and every tenth man of the legion was put to death, until all of them were eventually martyred.