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

Maurice (Mauricius), Exuperius, Candidus, and Victor, together with Innocentius, the most distinguished soldiers of the Theban Legion, at this time received the crown of martyrdom with six thousand six hundred sixty-six others, for the sake of Christ, at the instigation of the emperor Maximian in Gaul, near the city of Seduno. These martyrs were of the East, and out of the noble city of Egypt that lies on the river Nile; and they were baptized by the bishop of Jerusalem. Being greatly experienced in military affairs, noble in virtue, and still nobler in the faith, they were called upon by Maximian to assist him in Gaul. However, when he sent them against the Christians, and he commanded them to worship the idolatrous gods, they refused to do so; and he punished them in various places with various forms of martyrdom, beheading those who proved stubborn. He beheaded every tenth man; but Maurice, the leader of the legion, confirmed the members in their faith; and they laid down their arms and willingly sacrificed themselves. The bodies of these men were revealed after many years of suffering to the holy bishop Theodotus, who built a basilica in their honor. Their feast day is celebated on the 10th Kalends of October.

The legends surrounding Maurice and the Theban Legion are among the most interesting in the Christian martyrology. The stories recount that among the legions of the Roman army in the time of Diocletian and Maximian, one was styled the "Theban Legion" because originally levied from area in and around Thebes, in Egypt. Much of what is said about this legion in medieval tradition is probably legendary. That said, those very legends record that the number composing this corps was 6666, and all were Christians, as remarkable for their valor and discipline as for their piety and fidelity. It was commanded by an excellent Christian officer of illustrious birth, Maurice (in Latin Mauritius). Around the year 286 Maximian summoned this legion from the East to reinforce the army with which he was about to march into Gaul. The Alps having been passed, some of the legion was dispatched to the Rhine, the rest of the army halting on the banks of the Lake of Geneva, where Maximian ordered a general sacrifice to the gods, accompanied by games and ceremonies usual on such occasions. But Maurice and his Christian soldiers withdrew from the idolatrous rites, and retiring to a distance of about three leagues, they pitched their tents at a place called Aganum (now St. Maurice). Maximian insisted on obedience to his commands, at the same time making it known that the service for which he required their aid was to extirpate the Christians, whose destruction he had sworn. The legion having with one voice refused to make the sacrifice, or to be led against their fellow-Christians, the emperor ordered the soldiers decimated. Their officers encouraged them to perish rather than yield; and when summoned for the third time, Maurice, in the name of his soldiers, again refused compliance, pleading that they were not only the soldiers of the emperor, but also of Jesus Christ, receiving pay from the former, and eternal life from the latter. Unmoved, the cruel tyrant ordered the rest of the army to surround the devoted legion for a general massacre. And they obeyed; nor did the Christian soldiers, on the other hand, resist, but throwing away their weapons, they submitted themselves to the slaughter like sheep. Some were trampled down by the cavalry; some were hung on threes and shot with arrows; some were killed with the sword. As Maurice and his officers knelt down in an attitude of prayer, they were beheaded; and so perished the Theban Legion.

The last two sentences in this paragraph are not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Vincent (Vincentius), the deacon, a very invincible and pious man from Spain, disciple of St. Sixtus, the pope, and very much resembling the martyr Lawrence (Laurentii) in skill and virtue, and of noble birth and highly learned, together with Valerius, the pious bishop of the city of Caesar Augusta, suffered very bitter martyrdom at the hands of Dacianus, the proconsul. After severe punishment and imprisonment, being put in chains and starved, Vincent suffered deadly tortures in every limb. He was stretched on a gallows, and while hanging there was lacerated with many wounds. Then he was taken down and laid on a gridiron over glowing coals, and while still on that was torn to pieces with iron forks, and had salt poured over him. After that he was imprisoned with his feet locked in the stocks; and there he was left alone without anyone to console him. But he was released from his bonds by an angel of God, surrounded with a great light. For that reason Dacianus said, We are defeated. And in order to further torture him, he caused him to be healed; but he soon died of starvation and gave up his Spirit to heaven. After his persecution Christians placed his body under the altar of a certain chuch outside the walls of Valencia (Valentie). Prudentius[Prudentius (348-after 405), a celebrated Christian poet born in northern Spain, wrote a series of lyric poems entitled (‘Crowns of Martyrdom’), on Spanish and Roman martyrs, including Vincent. Prudentius describes how Vincent was brought to trial along with his bishop Valerius, and that since Valerius had a speech impediment, Vincent spoke for both, but that his outspoken fearless manner so angered the governor that Vincent was tortured and martyred, though his aged bishop was only exiled.] expressed his suffering and noble triumph in verse. Augustine also very richly displays praise for this very holy martyr.

The legends regarding Vincent state that he was born in Saragossa, in the kingdom of Aragon. During the persecution under Diocletian, the cruel proconsul Dacian, infamous in the annals of Spanish martyrdom, caused all the Christians of Saragossa, whom he collected together by a promise of immunity, to be massacred. And at this time lived Vincent, early instructed in the Christian faith, and with all the ardor of youth devoted to the service of Christ. At 20 he was already a deacon. He encouraged and sustained many of his brethren in the torments inflicted upon them, and was himself called upon to receive the crown of martyrdom. Being brought before the tribunal of Dacian, together with his bishop Galerius, they were accused of being Christians. Confessing their faith, the old bishop was ordered banished, but for the brave Vincent, who had defied him, a severer fate was reserved as an example to the rest. His body was lacerated with iron forks, and flames were administered; and they laid him bleeding, and half consumed by fire, on the ground strewn with potsherds and left him there. But when the guards looked into the dungeon, they saw it filled with light and fragrance; and they fell upon their knees and acknowledged the true God. Vincent died of his tortures, and the proconsul ordered his body thrown to the wild beasts. But God sent a raven to guard his remains. Then Dacian ordered the body sewn up in an ox-hide and thrown into the sea.

The last three sentences in this paragraph are not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Agnes, the highly renowned virgin of exalted memory, was at the time of this persecution (according to the testimony of Ambrose) born in Rome of Roman citizens. She was a young girl of thirteen with a beautiful face and, when she returned from school was loved by the son of the prefect. But she said, I already love the one whose mother was a virgin. For that reason she was imprisoned and given the choice of sacrificing to the goddess Vesta, or to join the company courtesans. But she disregarded both, and was therefore sent naked into a house of prostitution by the prefect. But the Lord covered her with thick tresses as though she were covered with raiment. And when they came in, she had been clad in a white dress by an angel of the Lord. And at this many wondered; and the son of the prefect was frightened to death. But Agnes prayed for him, and he came to life again. After that she was threatened, frightened, and beaten, and then thrown into the fire. Yet she remained uninjured. At length her neck was pierced by a sword; and so she was brought to martyrdom on the 21st day of January. In the night she appeared to her parents, with a host of virgins; and she said, Dearest parents, you should not mourn for me as one who is dead, but rejoice with me; for I am espoused to that one in Heaven, who, while on earth, I loved with complete understanding.[The legend of Agnes (containing many elements that remind one of the folktales collected by the Brothers Grimm) is as follows: There lived in Rome a maiden named Agnes (whether this name was her own, or given to her because of her lamb-like meekness and innocence does not seem clear). She was only 13, yet filled with all good gifts of the Holy Spirit, having loved and followed Christ from her infancy. She was of surpassing beauty. The son of the prefect of Rome desired her for wife, and he asked her in marriage of her parents; but she repelled all his advances and rejected his gifts of gold and gems, saying: "I am the betrothed of a lover who is greater and fairer than any earthly suitor." The son of the prefect was seized with jealousy and rage; and he fell ill, almost to the point of death. The prefect went to Agnes and to her parents to intercede for his son, but Agnes remained firm. Learning that she was a Christian, he ordered her to enter the service of the goddess Vesta. Being still further resisted, he threatened her with death; and he loaded her with chains, and ordered her to be dragged before the altars of the pagan gods; but to no avail. He ordered her carried to a place of prostitution, and exposed to the most degrading outrages. The soldiers stripped her, and when she saw herself exposed, she bent her head and prayed. Immediately her hair, already long, became like a veil, covering her whole person. And those who looked on were seized with awe and averted their eyes. And they shut her up in a chamber; and she saw before her a shining garment; and the whole place was filled with a glorious light. The son of the prefect entered the chamber, was struck blind and fell into convulsions, and was carried off as dead. But Agnes prayed for him, and her prayers were granted. The young man was eager to save Agnes, but the people demanded her death as a sorceress. So the prefect sent one of his deputies to judge her. And he ordered her to be burned; but the flames were suddenly extinguished. The executioners then ascended the pile and killed her with a sword. The parents and relatives took away her body and buried it in a cemetery outside the city. And when they assembled at her grave at night to offer devotions, she appeared before them, and said, "Weep not, dry your tears, and rejoice with exceeding joy; for me a throne is prepared by the side of Him whom on earth I preferred to all others, and to whom I am united forever in heaven." And the Christian mourners wiped away their tears, and returned to their homes with joy and thanksgiving.]

Cyriacus (Ciriacus), the deacon, together with Largus and Smaragdus and twenty others, suffered in these times. He released from the Devil, Artemia, the daughter of Diocletian; also Jobia, daughter of Sapor the king of the Persians. Then, after forty-five days, they returned, having receieved from Diocletian much honor. After his (i.e., Diocletian’s) death, his son, Maxiamian (Maximianus), ordered those three, together with other Christians, to be placed in prison. Then, by the judgment of Carpasius, he (i.e., Cyricaus) was brought forth and hot pitch was poured over his head. And afterwards, the son of Diocletian ordered that Cyriacus, together with Smaragdus and twenty others, be beheaded. And there were led away with him (i.e., Cyricacus) those of both sexes. And they were decapitated at Rome on the Salarian Road (Via Salaria). Pope Marcellus with Lucina buried the bodies of the martyrs on a farm on the Hostiensian Road (Via Hostiense) at the seventh mile-stone from the city (i.e., Rome) on the sixth of the Ides of August.

Cyriacus, a deacon of Rome, Smaragdus, and Largus were martyred by the sword under Maximinian. Tradition (very unhistorical) asserts that Cyriacus converted and baptized Artemia, daughter of Diocletian, and that he was sent by Diocletian to King Sapor, of Persia, to heal his daughter Jobia, possessed with a devil. This he did, and also baptized Jobia, Sapor, and four hundred and thirty of the Persian court.

The last two thirds of this paragraph are not in the German edition of the Chronicle.

Gervasius and Protasius (Prothasius), brothers, of Milan, sons of the holy martyr Vitalus, and born at the same time, suffered martyrdom at Milan at this time. Before this, upon the death of their parents, they gave their entire inheritance to the poor. For many years they devoted themselves to good works. Artesius, the governor of the city, was about to go to war. Then the priests of the pagan gods asked him why he did not compel Gervasius and Protasius to worship the idols; so he could not refuse. Therefore Gervasius was beaten to death with scourges loaded with lead; and Protasius was beaten with clubs. At length they were beheaded. Their bodies, still intact, were found many years later by St. Ambrose (Ambrosius) pursuant to a divine revelation, in the same condition as though they had died that very day. These very blessed martyrs were martyred on the 13th day of the Kalends of January.

Gervasius and Protasius, twin brothers, apparently were martyred sometime in the first (Nero is the villain in this account) or second century. Having been sent to Milan, together with Nazarus and Celsus, they were brought before Artesius, who, sharing in the enmity of his master against the Christians, commanded them to sacrifice to his idols. On refusal, he condemned Gervasius to be beaten to death with scourges loaded with lead, and ordered Protasius to be beheaded. A good man, named Philip, carried home their bodies and buried them honorably in his own garden; and they remained undiscovered until Ambrose, in response to a dream, caused them to be dug up. On the second day after their discovery they were borne in solemn procession to the Basilica. They are the patron saints of Milan and of haymakers, and are invoked for the discovery of thieves.

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