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

The seventh persecution of the Christians after Nero was carried on by Decius, the Emperor, and affected many persons in various places. When Philippus was returning homeward from the war from Verona, Decius went forth to meet him, as if to honor him, but treacherously killed him; and thus he secured the sovereignty. And Decius proceeded to Rome and let it be known that through love of the gods he had slain his master because he (Philippus) was a Christian. And he began a severe persecution against the Christians; and he killed many, among them the son of Philippus; and they suffered various martyrdoms, details of which follow.

Abdon and Senen, petty kings subject to Rome, highly renowned men from Corduba, a city of the Persians, were, after suffering in prison, taken to Rome in chains, and long subjected to various forms of torture. Then after Decius the emperor had overcome Babylonia and other countries, he marched the Christians from various regions to the said city of Corduba and killed them with various forms of martyrdom. Their bodies were buried by Abdon and Senen, Christian men. Finally they suffered martyrdom by the sword on the 30th day of the month of July.

Agatha, a Sicilian virgin of noble birth and highly renowned, was crowned with martyrdom at this time in Catania (Cathania), in Sicily, for Christ’s sake. When Quintianus, the governor, learned of her reputation and heard the praises of her nobility, beauty and riches, and that she was a servant of Christ, he apprehended her and turned her over to Aphrodisia (Affrodisia), a very wicked woman. She had seven vile daughters, who for thirty days threatened her and admonished her to submit to the will of the governor. And when she would not sacrifice to the pagan gods, she was finally beaten and imprisoned, and after her breasts were cut off, and she was rolled over hot coals, she was, according to the judgment of Quintianus, slain in prison, receiving the crown of martyrdom on the 5th day of the month of February. Her body, after being anointed with herbs of incense, was buried by the faithful. And there an angel laid a tablet with the inscription: A pious obedient disposition, an honor to God, and a relief to the fatherland. Cortina also put out a fire on its mountain near the city.

The full story concerning Agatha is told by Jameson (Sacred and Legendary Art, II, 4th edition; London 1863; pp. 608-13):

There dwelt in the city of Catania, in Sicily, a certain Christian maiden whose name was Agatha. In those days reigned the emperor Decius, who had strangled his predecessor Philip; and, to make it believed by all that he had put him to death out of great zeal and for being a Christian, not from motives of ambition, this Decius sent his emissaries throughout the empire to oppress and persecute the Christians, and many were put to death. And to Sicily Decius sent his creature Quintianus, and made him king over the whole island. Not long had Quintianus reigned in Sicily when he heard of the great beauty and perfection of the maiden Agatha, and he sent to have her brought before him; and he tempted her with rich presents, and flatteries, and promises, but she rejected all with disdain. Then Quintianus sent for a courtesan, named Frondisia, who had nine daughters, more wicked and abandoned than herself, and he delivered Agatha into their hands, and he said, ‘Subdue this girl to my will, and I will give you great riches.’ Then Frondisia took Agatha home to her house, and kept her there for 33 days, and tempted her with great promises, and flattered and cajoled her; and seeing this availed not, they persecuted her day and night: but her heart was fixed as a rock in the faith of Jesus Christ, and all their promises and all their threats were as empty air. At the end of 33 days, Frondisia returned to Quintianus and said to him, ‘Sooner shall that sword at your side become like liquid lead, and the rocks dissolved and flow like water, than the heart of this girl be subdued to your will.’ Then Quintianus in a fury commanded her to be brought to him. . . . ‘Abjure your master, and serve our gods, or I will have you tortured.’ To which Agatha replied, "If you should throw me to the wild beasts, the power of Christ would render them meek as lambs; if you should kindle a fire to consume me, the angels would quench it with dew from heaven; if you should tear me with scourges, the Holy Spirit within me would render your tortures harmless.’ Then this accursed tyrant ordered St. Agatha to be beaten with rods; and he commanded two of his slaves to tear her tender bosom cruelly with iron shears . . . Then she was carried from the place of torture into a dark dungeon." The legend then relates how St. Peter visited her and restored her mutilated bosom with celestial medicines, and her body torn with stripes, and thereupon vanished. And Quintianus sent for her again, and finding her thus healed, he ordered a great fire to be kindled, and they bound the holy maiden hand and foot and flung her upon it; and in that moment a terrible earthquake ensued, and the people ran armed to the palace and cried out, ‘This had fallen upon us because of the sufferings of this Christian girl!’ and they threatened, that if Quintianus did not desist from tormenting her they would burn him in his palace with all his family. So he ordered her to be taken from the flames, and again cast into the dungeon, scorched and in miserable pain; and she prayed that having thus far suffered and proved her faith, she might be permitted to see the glory of God; which prayer was heard, for her pure spirit immediately departed and ascended to eternal glory. The Christians who dwelt in Catania came to the prison and carried away her sacred remains, and embalmed them; and they buried her with great devotion in a tomb of porphyry.

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

Apollonia (Appolonia), a very holy and memorable Alexandrian virgin, in these times suffered bitterest martyrdom for the sake of Christ; for when she refused to sacrifice to the idols, they first pulled out all her teeth and punished her with many scourgings. Finally they threatened to burn her alive if she would not blaspheme God. But when she saw the fire that had been prepared, she tore herself from the hands of the evil ones and sprang into it. And when the dispensers of cruelty saw that a woman had been found who was quicker to die than the persecutors were to torture, they were frightened. And she earned the crown of martyrdom on the 9th day of February. Her holy body was afterwards taken to Italy, and is contained in the cathedral church of Dordona (Derdonam) in Lombardy.[]

Serapion, a native of Alexandria, a very holy man, was, in the same year, taken prisoner by the persecutors, and subjected to gruesome tortures, to such an extent that his limbs came apart; but while still alive the henchmen of the devil threw him from the highest part of his house, and so made of him a Christian martyr. His day is commemorated on the 14th of November.[Serapion was seized in his own house and after being subjected to the severest cruelties, and the breaking of all his limbs, was thrown headlong from an upper story (Eusebius, 6.41; Bohn 243).] Justinus the priest, together with Victoria, also suffered martyrdom with great fortitude.

Meniatus (Meniacus), an Etrurian of high repute, suffered martyrdom at Florence, in Etruria, on the 25th day of October. The citizens there hold him in high regard for his piety.[With the exception of a few similar notices in later texts, nothing else is known or said about Menatius.] In this tumult, in the same country, Palentinus and Laurentinus, in their city of Aretio, together with Nicostratus, the deacon, and many others, suffered for the sake of Christ.

Victoria, a famous virgin, was espoused to a pagan. She would neither cohabit with him nor sacrifice to the pagan gods. She was beheaded with the sword at the request of her husband during the Decian persecution.[] And many others were crowned with martyrdom, and those who had taken refuge in the wilderness and the mountains, died of thirst, cold and starvation, and murder, and in many parts of the world were consumed by wild beasts.