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

Matthew, a highly renowned apostle and evangelist, was called by Christ from the sinful occupation of a tax-gatherer. After the Lord’s ascension he preached the Gospel of Christ in Judea. Contemplating a sojourn with the foreign nations of Ethiopia, land of the Moors, he first wrote a Gospel in the Hebrew tongue for the converted Jews, and left it as a memorial with his fellow-disciples, particularly Barnabas. In the beginning of this Gospel he treats of the incarnation; in the middle, of the ministry; and at the end, of the Passion of Christ. This Gospel the apostle Barnabas used and carried about with him in his ministry in a number of places; and he placed it on the sick, and with it he healed them. Matthew wandered through all of Ethiopia, preaching and converting countless Ethiopians to Christian submission; and he washed them in the font of baptism, turning them from dark into a very beautiful people. And he dedicated churches to Christ. But when he consecrated to Christ the Lord the noble virgin Epigenia, with two hundred other maidens, the king sent to the Apostle of God an executioner, who, while Matthew was holding mass with hands uplifted to God at the altar, ran him through with a sword, and killed him on the 21st day of September. And immediately afterwards the king was plagued with a leprous disease, which made him despondent and caused him to kill himself. By means of an apparition the Apostle admonished the people to set up as king the brother of Epigenia; and he reigned 70 years afterwards, establishing many churches and making Ethiopia a Christian country. Eunuchus, whom Philip had baptized, then undertook the rule of Ethiopia.

Matthew, the apostle and evangelist, is the same as Levi, the Publican (Luke 5:27-29), the son of a certain Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). He was a publican and was ‘sitting at the place of toll,’ near Capernaum, which lay on the road from Damascus to the Mediterranean. Here he collected dues for Herod the tetrarch. The publicans, properly so called, were persons who farmed the Roman taxes, and they were usually, in later times, Roman knights, and persons of wealth. They employed under them lower-ranking officials, natives of the provinces where the taxes were collected, called portitores, to which class Matthew belonged. Nevertheless, he must have been rich and had much to give up in following Jesus. The call is followed by a great feast given to Jesus himself, which roused the anger of the ‘scribes of the Pharisees.’ We have no trustworthy information as to his later career. Eusebius says that after Jesus’ ascension Matthew preached in Judea, and then went to foreign nations. Socrates Scholasticus says that it fell to the lot of Matthew to go into Ethiopia. Heracleon, disciple of Valentine, living in the second century, and the earliest and most trustworthy authority, says that Matthew died a natural death. The story of his martyrdom originated much later. The gospel traditionally ascribed to Matthew is, in fact, anonymous. In art he is usually portrayed as an old man with a long beard, holding his gospel in his hand. He is also represented with a purse or moneybox, in allusion to his worldly calling.

The last sentence in this paragraph is not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Processus and Martinian, Roman soldiers, were baptized in prison by the divine Peter. At the command of Nero they were tortured with thorns, fire, clubs, and scorpions[Scorpions: Not only with smooth rods were the ancients accustomed to punish offenders, and the Christians among the rest, but likewise with knotty and prickly ones, which they appropriately named "scorpions." ], and finally received the crown of martyrdom.[Processus and Martinian were guards in the days of Nero, deputed to watch over the imprisoned Christians. Peter and Paul were thrown into the Maritine prison by order of Paulinus, a magistrate, and by them Processus and Martinian were converted to the Christian faith. The guards in turn released Peter and Paul. Paulinus having learned that these guards were Christians, called upon them to give up the new faith, and refusing to do so, they were tortured, and finally beheaded. The two saints are usually represented in Roman armor, with swords and palms.] The brothers Nereus and Achilles (Archelaus),[Nereus and Achilles, according to the Acts, are said to have been eunuchs; but eunuchs were not introduced into Roman families until later. The festival of Nereus and Achilles was kept at Rome with great solemnity in the sixth century, and their relics are preserved in the church of their names at Rome. Garraye, anciently Numantia, in Spain, also claims to possess their bodies, while the heads are pretended to be shown at Ariano, near Benevento.] during the persecution at Rome suffered martyrdom there; likewise did Torpetus, Torquatus, and Cecilius Euphrasius, among the Spaniards.[In the German edition, the order of this paragraph and the next (on Thecla) are switched.]

Thecla (Tecla), a highly renowned virgin and disciple of Saint Paul, was cruelly tortured with clubs, wild beasts and fire, because she confessed the Christian faith. She was born at Iconium, and came to rest in the Lord at Seleucia on the 23rd day of the month of September.[Thecla, according to her acts, composed by a priest in Asia Minor to do honor to Paul, but not at all reliable, was the daughter of pagan parents in Iconium. She heard Paul preach as she sat at her chamber window, and afterwards refused to listen to the advances of her betrothed, Thamyris. She ran away from home and followed Paul to Seleucia. A native of that place tried to kiss her in the street, and she tore the clothes off his back. The man accused her before the governor, and she was exposed to wild beasts, which however, would not touch her. She then jumped into a pond filled with seals and porpoises, and baptized herself. All the sea-monsters in the pond died when she jumped in. After that she escaped, and, dressed in boy’s clothes, followed Paul everywhere. When he left for Rome, a shining cloud led her to a cave, where she spent seventy years.]

Judas Thaddaeus (Thadeus), a brother of Simon (Symonis) the Canaanite and James (Iacobi) the Less, and a son of Mary Cleophas and Alphaeus, first preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and the lower regions of the Pontus, after the descent of the Holy Spirit; and he pacified the barbarous people by his pious teachings. Later, with Simon (Symone) the Apostle, he sojourned in Persia. According to ecclesiastical history he came to King Abagarus, in the city of Edessa, who then wrote a letter to Christ before he suffered; and Christ answered it in writing. Abagarus was suffering from an incurable disease of the stomach, and Judas Thaddaeus cured him of it. Afterwards Judas Thaddaeus, together with Simon, was martyred, and they were buried in the city of Netruo (Netri), in Armenia. Their day is observed as the 28th day of October.[Judas Thaddaeus, surname of the Apostle Jude (Mark 3:18).]

Dioscorides (Diascorides), a Greek physician and a military man, skilled in the knowledge and use of herbs, was greatly renowned at this time. With much industry he wrote upon the power, effect, and virtues of herbs, trees and stones. Concerning himself he said, What I have stated, I have not discovered by mere good luck, but have learned through research and experience. He is also mentioned by Pliny.[Dioscorides (Pedacius or Pedanius), of Anazarba, in Cicilia, a Greek physician, pharmacologist, and botanist, who probably lived c. 40-c. 90 CE. His masterpiece, , in five books, was a work of great labor and research, which for nearly 15 centuries was considered standard. It is a precursor to all modern pharmacopeias, and is one of the most influential herbal books in history.]


Matthew the Apostle, who according to tradition was martyred at the altar, here appears as being done to death in the open country—surprised not by one, but by two henchmen of the king. One has already forced his sword into the apostle’s side, while the other is about to run him through the back.


Processus and Martinian are presented in a dual portrait, each subject carrying a palm as a symbol of martyrdom.


Thecla, the Virgin Martyr, is portrayed in medieval costume, and carrying a palm. The palm, symbol of victory, is one of the earliest Christian symbols, and commemorates, times without number, in the Catacombs, the triumph of the martyrs for the faith. In the darkness of the subterranean vaults, to the survivors it bore testimony of conflict past and death vanquished. It was an ancient belief that the palm tree would always grow erect, no matter how it might be weighted or pulled aside; hence it was a favorite emblem in the Middle Ages of triumph over adversity.


Judas Thaddaeus (Jude) is being clubbed to death by two vicious executioners. As he sinks to his knees, a column surmounted by a devil is being shattered and falling to the ground, no doubt through Jude’s influence; for by his prayers he has caused Christ to destroy the idol—a feat often credited to the saints.