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

This woodcut covers an entire page. In the upper center sits Jesus in a robe of ample folds, with the orb (surmounted by a cross) held on his left knee. His head is encircled by a cruciferous nimbus, that is, one inscribed with a cross, which is a form especially devoted to Christ. Examples where he is without it, or others are with it, are comparatively few. Jesus is at once distinguished from his disciples by its presence. In the illustration before us the cross within the nimbus is floral in detail, the terminals being in the form of lilies, which may have been introduced as symbols of the resurrection. Note that the nimbi about the heads of the apostles are plain, except that their names are inscribed in them as a convenient form of identification. During the fourteenth century the custom arose of thus placing the name of the wearer within the edge of the nimbus. This practice continued for about 200 years, and may be seen alike in Greek, Italian and German art, except that in the Greek examples the monogram of the person, or some other abbreviated form of his name, is used. The orb, surmounted with the cross, is introduced as a symbol of spiritual sovereignty. The globe and cross were first introduced as ensigns of authority in Western Europe by Pope Benedict VIII. Almost all the English kings, from Edward the Confessor, have the globe in their left hand on their coinage or great seals.

The apostles are seated about their Master in a circular group. To his right is Peter, whose name in the Greek (Petros) signifies ‘rock.’ He is portrayed, according to iconographic tradition, with bald head and short rounded beard. To the left of Jesus sits Peter’s brother Andrew, portrayed (also according to iconographic tradition) with a long flowing beard. It was the custom to thus bestow a certain personality upon such of the apostles. Thus Philip was portrayed as a man of advanced years, John as a youth. But it was no doubt found impossible by such means to clearly distinguish one from another among twelve or more distinct persons; for which reason symbols were assigned to them. These symbols were often the instruments by the use of which the saint suffered martyrdom. No attempt is made by the woodcutter to distinguish any other persons in the picture than Jesus, Peter and Andrew. And so we must rely upon the inscribed nimbi for the identification of the rest of the apostles. Proceeding downward from St. Peter on the left are John, unbearded, but not as young as he might have been; Thomas, with tousled head and forked beard; Philip, correctly represented as fairly aged; Matthew, a rather stern and haughty looking man; and Jude, designated "S. Judas," who appears rather elated in his devotions. We know that this is not Judas Iscariot for a number of reasons. In the first place the latter was not a saint. Secondly, because Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hanged himself, thus eliminating himself from the present occasion. Thirdly, because Matthias was chosen in his place (Acts 1:15-26), and we find Matthias seated at the right. Had Judas Iscariot been introduced there would have been thirteen disciples present. Jude’s surname was Thaddeus (Mark 3:18). In the Revised Version only the name Thaddeus is retained; but Luke calls him Judas (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13).

Proceeding downward from Andrew on the right are James (Jacobus) the Greater (Major) and James (Jacobus) the Lesser (Minor), Bartholomew, Simon, and Matthias.

The four corners of the woodcuts are filled in with the symbols of the Evangelists—the angel for Matthew, the lion for mark, the ox for Luke, and the eagle for John.

At the head of the page on a broad scroll is the inscription:

Data est mihi potestas
in caelo et in terra:
"Power is given to me
in heaven and on earth."

The complete verse according to the Latin Vulgate is: Et accedens Iesus locutus est eis dicens data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra.

And Jesus, coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me, in heaven and on earth.

(Matthew 28:18).

The inscriptions on the scrolls that circle and wave round about the head of Jesus and the heads of the apostles contain the following
Latin version of the Apostolic Creed:

Credo in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terre. Et in Ihesum Xpm, Filius ejus unicum dominum nostrum; qui conceptus est de Spirito Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine. Passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, (mortuus et sepultus, omitted); descendit ad inferna (inferos), tertia die resurrexit a mortuis; ascendit ad caelos; sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis; inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Sanctam ecclesiam Catholicam, sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, et vitam aeternam. Amen.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, our Lord, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born out of Mary the Virgin; he suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was crucified, (dead and buried); descended into hell; on the third day he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father, from where he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and in life everlasting. Amen.

It is a tradition that before the apostles dispersed to preach the Gospel in all lands, they assembled to compose this declaration of faith, and that each of them furnished one of the twelve propositions contained in it, in the following order:

  • St. Peter: Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem creatorem caeli et terrae.
  • St. Andrew: Et in Jesum Christum Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum.
  • St. James Major: Qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine.
  • St. John: Passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus.
  • St. Philip: Descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.
  • St. James Minor: Ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis.
  • St. Thomas: Inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos.
  • St. Bartholomew: Credo in Spiritum Sanctum.
  • St. Matthew: Sanctam ecclesiam Catholicam.
  • St. Simon: Sanctorum communionem.
  • St. Simon: Remissionem peccatorum.
  • St. Matthies: Carnis resurrectionem.
  • St. Thaddeus: Et vitam aeternam.

In the illustration the twelve propositions of the Creed are not attributed in the same order to the various apostles.