The Golden Legend retells a story from the 5th century by Eucherius of Lyon in which a legion of troops from Thebes in Egypt is assigned to Agaunum (St. Moritz) in Switzerland. When the Emperor Maximian orders them to sacrifice to the gods and take an oath against the Christians they refuse, being Christian themselves. For this, according to the legend, the entire legion was put to death along with its leader, St. Maurice
Portraits of St. Maurice usually put him in the military gear of the artist's own time, as at right, and sometimes make him an African. (His name is related to the Latin Maurus, "a Moor.") As in the image, he usually carries the sword with which he was martyred and a banner. The banner may have an eagle, as here, or a cross. When he carries a shield, as in the second picture on the right, it most often has a yellow or white cross on a red field. A palm branch to signify the martyrdom may also be used, as in the third picture at right, but usually it is absent.
Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University