The Martyrdom of St. Maurice and the Theban Legion

Ceiling fresco
Abbey Church of Ebersmunster
Ebersmunster, Alsace, France

From the canopied throne the Emperor Maximian orders the slaughter of the entire Theban Legion for refusing to sacrifice to the gods and take an oath against Christians. St. Maurice, the leader of the legion, is shown twice: once in the field, about to be beheaded, and again in the heavens, rising toward Christ. Several angels carry the wreaths and palm branches signifying martyrdom to the fallen soldiers below. The red crosses on their shields associate them with medieval crusaders.

On the far left is a statue of Jupiter, the god they would not worship, with a thunderbolt and the eagle that is his attribute.

In medieval images St. Maurice is often clearly an African, but here he is white and his executioner is black.

Read more about images of St. Maurice.

Source: Ralph Hammann via this page at Wikimedia Commons.