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

Year of the World 5423

Year of Christ 224

Urban (Urbanus) the First, a pope and native Roman was renowned for his learning and pious life in the Year of Christ 224, under the Emperor M. Aurelius Antonius. With his exceptional learning he drew many people to the faith, particularly the excellent man Valerianus, the betrothed of St. Cecilia, and Tiburtius (Tiburcium) his brother, who afterwards suffered martyrdom with fortitude. This pope ordained that no one should be elected bishop who had not been consecrated as a priest or deacon, and that the church might take the landed estates given by the faithful for the use of all the clergy as common property, and not for the use of any one person in particular. However, there has been a departure from this rule, so great has human selfishness and greed become today. He was crowned with martyrdom on the 24th day of May, after having sat (in office) four years, ten months and 12 days. Then the chair was vacant for 30 days.[Urban I was bishop of Rome from 222 to 230; he was preceded by Calixtus and followed by Pontian.]

Pontian (Pontianus) the pope, a Roman, lived in the time of the emperor Alexander in the year from the founding of the city (i.e., Rome) 974, but in the Year of Christ 228. He was a good and pious man. At the instigation of the idolaters he was banished from Rome and sent to the island of Sardinia with Philip the priest. And there, after enduring much grief and severe suffering for the Christian faith, he died. His body was brought back to Rome by Pope Fabian at the instance of the pious, and was there buried with great honor. He sat for nine years, five months and two days, and the chair was vacant ten days.[Pontian, pope, 230 to 235, was exiled by the emperor Maximus and in consequence of this sentence, he resigned September 28, 235. He was succeeded by Anterus.]

In several histories one finds Cyriacus as successor to Pontian, and the statement that he left the papacy so that he might suffer martyrdom with the virgins. But calculations of time do not allow this, as the legend of the eleven thousand virgins shows. And he is said to have sat (in office) one year and three months. However, he was not placed in the register of the popes because he abdicated without the consent of the fathers.

Year of the World 5433

Year of Christ 234

Anterus (Antherus), the pope, a Greek, and a very good man, ordered the history of the martyrs industriously investigated and recorded by the notaries, and to be laid up in the archives of the churches, so that the memories and careers of righteous persons might not be lost. He ordained that a bishop leaving his first episcopate should not undertake another for his personal advantage or through necessity alone, but with the consent of the congregation to which he was assigned, and the approval of the pope. But some now think otherwise, and, not concerning themselves with herding their flock, consider only their personal advantage, and how they may enlarge their own revenues and wealth and increase the number of their retainers. Anterus, however, with but one bishop, went to his martyrdom, after having sat 11 years one month and 12 days. And the chair was vacant 13 days.[Anterus, also called Anteros, was pope for some weeks at the end of 235, and died January 3, 236 CE. According to (‘Book of the Popes’) he was martyred for having ordered a collection of the acts of the martyrs to be made and included in the archives of the church. His original epitaph was discovered in the Catacombs in 1854.]

Tiburtius (Tiburcius) and Valerianus, brothers, highly renowned Roman citizens, were brought into the faith by the help of Cecilia the virgin and through Urban the pope. Afterwards, pursuant to the sentence of Almachius, the prefect of the city, they were first beaten with clubs, and finally slain with the sword, all for the name of Christ. So was Maximus, the renowned man, who kept them in prison, and who was also a Christian, also beaten to death with a leaden instrument. His body was buried with those of Tiburtius and Valerianus by Cecilia on the 14th day of April.

Cecilia, the Roman virgin, beautiful in person, and illustrious for her morals, piety and exemplary chastity, was an only daughter of her parents, who gave her in marriage, together with royal riches, to the above named noble Roman youth Valerianus. She brought him, together with Tiburtius, into the Christian faith; and by her sweet teachings and constancy she kept their minds focused on it in their endurance of martyrdom. She too, remained firm in her suffering at her father’s house, which previously had been consecrated to God through Pope Urban at her request. Then when Almachius urged this Cecilia to sacrifice to idols, and her parents also tried to prevail upon her to do so, she refused, and acknowledged herself to be a Christian. Immediately afterwards Almachius caused her to be burned day and night with scalding water; but as she remained unharmed he ordered her to be beheaded. However, after the executioner had given her three strokes, he still failed to decapitate her; and as the Roman law forbade a fourth stroke, he left her half dead. In three days she divided her estate among the poor, and commended to Pope Urban those who had converted her to the faith. This very beautiful virgin suffered (martyrdom) around the 220th year of the Lord on the 22nd day of the month of November in the time of Alexander the emperor.

Cecilia, according to legend, was a noble Roman lady who lived in the reign of Alexander Severus. Her parents, who secretly professed Christianity, brought her up to their own faith, and she was remarkable for her enthusiastic piety from early childhood. According to tradition she was very much devoted to music, and invented the organ, which she consecrated to the service of God. At about the age of 16 her parents married her to a young Roman, virtuous, rich, and of noble birth, named Valerian. He was, however, still a pagan, and she converted him and his brother Tiburtius to the Christian faith. They were baptized by Urban, who being persecuted by the pagans, had taken refuge in the Catacombs. All three went about doing good, giving alms, and encouraging those about to be put to death for Christ’s sake, and, after their fellow Christians’ deaths, buried their bodies.

Jameson (Sacred and Legendary Art, II, 4th edition; London 1863; pp. 194-210) relates her story thus:

Now there was in those days a wicked prefect of Rome, named Almachius, who governed in the emperor’s absence; and he sent for Cecilia, her husband, and his brother, and he commanded them to desist from their practices of Christian charity. But they refused. The two brothers were thrown into prison, and committed to the charge of a centurion named Maximus, whom they converted, and all three, refusing to join in the sacrifice to Jupiter, were put to death. Cecilia buried them in the cemetery of Calixtus. Then Almachius, covetous of the wealth Cecilia had inherited, sent for her, and commanded her to sacrifice to the gods, but she refused. Almachius ordered her carried back to her own house, and her bath filled with boiling water, and her to be cast therein. But it had no effect upon her. Then Almachius sent an executioner to behead her with the sword; but his hands trembled so that after wounding her with three strokes in the neck and breast, he went away leaving her bleeding and half dead. She lived for three days, in which she distributed her possessions to the poor; and she called to Urban, and desired that her house, in which she law dying, should be converted into a place of worship for the Christians. She was buried by Urban in the same cemetery with her husband.


St. Cecilia, a new portrait. She wears a crown (of martyrdom) and the saintly nimbus. With both hands she holds a hornbook with inscription, introduced no doubt as a symbol of her early devotion to study of the gospel. The name ‘horn-book’ was originally applied to a sheet containing the letters of the alphabet, which formed a primer for the use of children. It was mounted on wood and protected with transparent horn. The wooden frame had a handle, and it was usually hung at the child’s girdle. The sheet, which in ancient times was of vellum and latterly of paper, contained first a large cross – the criss-cross – from which the horn-book was called the Christ Cross row, or criss-cross-row. The alphabet in large and small letters followed. The usual exorcism – "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen" – followed, then the Lord’s Prayer, the whole concluding with the Roman numerals.

Due to her devotion to music and the tradition that she invented the organ, Cecilia is generally represented as the patroness of music, carrying a scroll of music or a small organ, or as playing the organ.