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

The highest God and Parent of all things gave a new law to the new believers, and sent a teacher of righteousness from heaven. This new teacher (as has already been stated) allowed himself to be nailed to the cross, and there he gave up the spirit. But as he had prophesied that on the third day he would arise from the dead, the Jews feared that the disciples might secretly remove the body and give currency to the belief that Christ had arisen. Therefore they took him from the cross, sealed him in a sepulchre and guarded it securely with soldiers.[Matthew 27:62-66.] But on the third day before dawn, after an earthquake, the sepulcher opened, and a great fear took hold of the guards;[Matthew 28:2-4.] and the Lord came forth from the grave, living and entire. And he wandered into Galilee and revealed the letter of the Holy Scriptures and the secrets of the prophets, which were before that time not understood by his disciples.[Matthew 16:20.] And so they proclaimed him and his sufferings. Now after the Lord had given them the gospels, and had ordered the same to be taught in his name, he was surrounded by a cloud that lifted him up into heaven on the fortieth day after his suffering.[Acts 1:9.] By divine omnipotence the Temple of God, which had been released from the ill will of the Jews in three days, was now continued in the flesh for forty days as a sign, and to make the belief in the Resurrection secure. Now as the apostles and disciples, after the ascension (as Luke relates of the apostles) came down from the Mount of Olives and arrived at Jerusalem, they went up into an upper room, and there remained in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren; and day and night they pondered the laws of the Lord and his commandments until they were invested with virtue from on high.[Acts1:12-14.] In these days, between the time when the Lord arose from the dead and his ascension, the motive of his bitter death, and the immortality of not only the soul but also of the body was revealed; and the Lord breathed the Holy Spirit into his apostles;[John 20:22.] And to the apostle Peter were given the keys of the kingdom[Matthew 16:19.] and he was charged with the care of the sheepfold of the Lord. During all this time the eyes and hearts of the Lord’s own were opened by divine foresight, so that it should be acknowledged that the Lord who was born, martyred and died, had really arisen. But ten days after his ascension (which was the fiftieth day after he arose from the dead), when the disciples were gathered together, they received the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit, which they craved; and soon a voice came from heaven and filled the entire room in which they sat ; and cloven tongues "like as of fire" appeared to them, and all were filled with the Holy Spirit; and they began to speak in various tongues.[] And just as the Israelites (following their release from bondage) were given the law on Mount Sinai fifty days after the sacrifice of a lamb, so (after the suffering and slaying of the Lamb of God) the Holy Spirit was poured forth upon the apostles and believers fifty days after he arose from the dead. By virtue of the gift thus received, the apostles fully understood all the things which the prophets had written of Christ, and by common counsel formulated the articles and foundations of our faith. And Peter, the prince of the apostles, spoke according to the prophecies of Jeremiah, Isaiah and David: I believe in one God, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. (Andrew and Habakuk). And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten son, our Lord, (John) who was conceived of the Holy Spirit out of Mary the Virgin (as Isaiah prophesied: Truly, a virgin will bear a son. James confirmed the prophecy of Iaaiah); suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried (Thomas attested the prophecy of Hosea); descended into hell; on the third day he rose from the dead; (James the Greater) ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; (Philip) from where he shall come to judge the living and the dead. (Bartholomew) I believe in the Holy Spirit, (Matthew) the holy Christian Church, (Simon, Jude and Matthias) the communion of saints, the remission of sins, resurrection of the flesh, and life everlasting. Amen. Afterwards the apostles ordained many things in all churches, and made James, the brother of the Lord, a bishop at Jerusalem; for he was a holy man from birth. He began by celebrating mass in a simple manner by saying the "Our Father," etc. (Lord’s Prayer). Christian life increased among men and women, and St. Peter chose seven deacons, that is, servants of the Faith—Stephen, Philip, Prochorus (Procorus), Nicanor, Timon (Tymon), Parmenas, and Nicholas Antiochus—who undertook the tasks assigned to the servants of the church.[Acts 1:1-5.] After that the apostles dispersed into all parts of the world. Thomas went among the Parthians, Medes, Persians, Hircanians, Bactrians, and into India interior; Matthew went into Macedonia and Ethiopia; Bartholomew into Liconia and India exterior; Andrew into Achaia and Scythia; John, after the death of the Virgin Mary, into Asia; Peter into Pontus and Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and finally to Rome; James the Greater into Spain; Judas into Mesopotamia; Simon into Egypt; and Philip into Gaul; just as was later written of the apostles. And so they dispersed themselves into these countries, and laid the foundation of the church. In the name of God, their Master, they performed great and incredible miracles. And he strengthened them in virtue and power in order to augment the establishment and promulgation of the new faith.


The Virgin Mary is seated on a throne surrounded by the apostles, among whom we are able to identify Peter, with rounded beard and bald head, on her left, and possibly Andrew with flowing and divided beard, on her right. The smooth-shaven man in the right foreground is probably the youthful John. Mary appears to be reading and interpreting the Scriptures to the apostles who listen in an attitude of reverence. The Holy Spirit, symbolized by a dove with outspread wings, appears above the head of the Virgin and immediately below the canopy of the throne. According to the Bible (Acts 1: 12-14), the apostles left the scene of the Lord’s ascension, and coming down from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, they put up in an upper chamber, and "all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."

Whether or not the artist here intended to comprehend the subject known as the Descent of the Holy Spirit is not clear. The latter event is recorded in Acts 2:1-4, and the Bible does not state that Mary was present, nor that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, but in cloven tongues of fire which set upon each of the apostles. Nor is the interpretation of the Scriptures by Mary born out by the text. The designer was of course influenced by the Maryology of the Middle Ages. In the Venice Academy is a 14th-century work of art depicting the apostles and the Virgin seated in an enclosure, tongues of fire descending from heaven. A painting in the Vatican attributed to Raphael also shows the Virgin and the apostles seated, with flames of fire standing on their heads.