First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Year of the World 5793

Year of Christ 594

Gregory (Gregorius) the Great, the first pope of this name, a Roman, was unanimously chosen pope by the people against his own will. And as this election was to take place with the consent of the emperor, Gregory sent a messenger to the emperor Maurice (Maurice) with letters asking him not to confirm such choice by the clergy and the people. But the letters were withheld through the governor of the city of Rome, and were torn up; and other letters were written, asking the emperor to confirm Gregory as pope. This the emperor was glad to do, for Gregory had baptized a son of Maurice at Constantinople. And Maurice sent a message to Gregory, confirming him and ordering him to enter upon the papacy. After this Gregory assumed the burden of the pontificate and the rule of the Christian welfare; and he did nothing to further his own interests, but devoted himself to the common welfare and the honor of God. After scorning and laying aside all worldly riches, pleasure, honor, and power, he so lived that, up to our own time, none of his successors have excelled him in holiness of life, industry in the management of affairs, nor in learning and writing. This highly learned man was so humble that among the popes he was the first to describe himself as the servant of the servants of God. And he made many ordinances for the improvement and maintenance of divine service and of Christian life. Finally he died in the 13th year, 6th month and 10th day of his pontificate, and was buried in the Basilica of Peter with everyone lamenting him on the 12th of the month of March. The Roman chair then rested five months and nineteen days.[Gregory (Gregorius), the fourth Doctor or Father of the Latin Church, better known as Gregory the Great, was one of the most influential of all medieval popes. He was born at Rome in the year 540, the son of Gordian, a wealthy patrician of senatorial rank. Gregory commended his career in life as a lawyer, and for twelve years exercised the office of praetor or chief magistrate of his native city. Yet, while apparently engrossed by secular affairs, he became deeply imbued with the religious enthusiasm, characteristic of his time and hereditary in his family. Immediately on the death of his father he devoted his paternal inheritance to pious and charitable uses, and converted his paternal home into a monastery and hospital for the poor, which he dedicated to St. Andrew. He also founded six monasteries in Sicily. Then retiring to a little cell at the monastery of St. Andrew, he took the habit of the Benedictine Order, giving himself up to study. During the terrific plague that almost depopulated Rome, he fearlessly undertook the care of the poor and sick. Pope Pelagius having died at this time, the people with one voice called upon Gregory to succeed him; but he shrank from the high office, and entreated emperor Maurice not to ratify the choice of the people; but the emperor confirmed the election, and Gregory fled from Rome and hid in a cave. He was discovered and brought back. No sooner had he assumed the tiara, even though against his will, that he showed himself worthy of his elevation. While he asserted the dignity of his station, he was distinguished by his personal humility, and the first pope to take the title of ‘Servant of the Servants of God.’ He abolished slavery throughout Christendom on religious grounds. Though enthusiastic in making converts, he set himself against persecution. He was the first to send missionaries to preach the gospel in England. He instituted the celibacy of the clergy; reformed the services of the church; defined the model of the Roman liturgy, such as it has ever since remained – the offices of the priests, the variety and change of the sacerdotal garments. He arranged the music of the chants, and he himself trained the choristers. His charity was boundless, his vigilance indefatigable. He surrounded himself with clerics and monks with whom he lived as though he were still in a monastery, and in spite of constant ill health, he ministered unceasingly to the physical and spiritual needs of the people. During his pontificate the papal estates increased in value, while the grievances of the tenants were redressed, and their general position materially improved. Gregory’s fault was that as a man of business he was too lavish of his revenues. He disciplined the clergy, depriving those of office who had lapsed into scandalous offenses. He divided the revenues of the church into equal parts, to be assigned to the bishop, the clergy, the poor, and the repair of the churches. He worked for the centralization of the power of the church, with supreme authority in the Roman see. The decrees of the councils were to have no binding effect without the authority and consent of the pontiff, and appeals might be taken to Rome against the decisions even of the patriarch of Constantinople. In Italy, Gregory occupied an almost regal position, stepping into the place that the emperor had left vacant, and the Lombard kings had not the strength to seize. For the first time in history the pope appears as a temporal prince, appointing governors to cities, issuing orders to generals, providing munitions of war, sending ambassadors, and concluding a peace. He made strong efforts to uproot paganism in Gaul, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica; Arianism in Spain; Donatism in Africa; Manicheism in Sicily, the heresy of the Three Chapters in Istria and Northern Italy. Gregory died on March 12, 603, in the 14th year of his pontificate, the last of the Latin Fathers.]

Pope Sabinianus, whose place of nativity is unknown and deservedly so, was the successor to Gregory; but he was very unlike him, and very much opposed to him; for when, during his pontificate a famine occurred, and the people expected alms at his hands, as they had from Gregory, he said only this: that Gregory in order to obtain worldly renown, had dissipated the wealth of the churches; and it so happened that his books were well nigh burned. And thus the envy and wrath of this evil man were kindled against Gregory. Yet he ordained that, aside from the offices, the lamps should be kept lighted in the churches during the day, particularly at the Church of the Blessed Peter. He died after having sat in the pontifical office one year, five months, and 9 days. The chair was vacant by his death for 11 months and twenty-six days.[Sabinianus, pope from 604 to 606; successor to Gregory the Great.]

Pope Boniface (Bonifacius) the Third, a Roman, came to this worthy office through the emperor Phocas, although not without opposition, on the ground that the chair of Saint Peter the Apostle, which is the head of all churches, should be so called and held by all mankind. For the Constantinopolitan church commenced to give itself up to the formerly evil emperors there, to secure their favor. But the Roman chair is very justly reserved for others, through whom, by reason of the universality and perseverance of the papal see, all heresies are removed and extinguished. After the holding of a council, he ordained many measures. However, all this was set aside by his death in the 9th month of his pontificate. The chair then was vacant one month and six days.[Boniface III, pope from February 15th to November 12th, 606, obtained from the emperor Phocas recognition as the “headship of the Church of Rome,” which signifies, no doubt, that Phocas compelled the patriarch of Constantinople to abandon, momentarily, his claim to the title of ecumenical patriarch.]

Year of the World 5813

Year of Christ 614

Pope Boniface (Bonifacius) the Fourth, of Marseilles, secured from the emperor Phocas the church of Saint Mary, the Rotunda, which the people of old called the Pantheon. And he consecrated it in honor of the holy Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. Before this, however, he cast out all the images of the pagan gods, and illuminated the temple. He made a monastery of his paternal home, and gave his landed possessions to the monastery for the use of the monks. He also gave the monks authority to preach and to hear confessions. Not long after this he died in the sixth year, eighth month, and 13th day of his pontificate; and upon his death a famine and flood occurred. He was buried in the Basilica of Peter. The chair then was vacant 7 months and twenty-five days.[Boniface IV was pope from 608 to 615. He received permission from the emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon at Rome into a Christian church.]