Currently on View in Spanish Gallery
This painting belongs to a series of at least thirty-eight Mercedarian martyrs created by Zurbarán for the cloister of a Seville monastery. The sheer number of martyrs comprising the series stresses the importance of martyrdom in defense of the Church and glorifies the role of the Mercedarians in that effort. The Mercedarian Order was founded in the 13th century for the purpose of ransoming Christian captives.
Fray Guillermo de San Julián was sent to Tunis to preach the Gospel. Considered the "Mercedarian St. Stephen," he was condemned for blasphemy and stoned to death.