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

St. George (Georgius) of Cappodocia (Capadocus), was a tribune and a true soldier of Christ. In these times he went from Cappadocia to the city of Diospolis in Persida[Diospolis = Lydda in ancient Palestine (modern day Lod, a mixed Arab-Jewish city ten miles southeast of Tel Aviv). Persida is, perhaps, a misspelling for Persia.] to relieve his fatherland of a dragon at the risk of his own life, and to suffer martyrdom. After slaying the dragon, he was stretched out on a rack, and all his limbs were pulled and his vitals torn. After enduring many tortures he was finally beheaded, as is recorded in history and other writings. Although his very brilliant martyrdom is honored by the Church of God in various ways. And very justly so, for (as Ambrose writes) although acknowledgment and affirmation of the Christian faith remained hidden, this holy martyr alone affirmed the name of the Son of God, and endured torture and martyrdom with the support of divine grace. His sacred head was brought to Venice, and there a church and cloister were erected in his honor. His banner is exhibited with the greatest solemnity in the episcopal city of Bamberg, in Germany. All Christians commemorate his feast day on the 24th of April.

George is, perhaps, the martyr around whom more legends accrued than any other. A sampling of the more famous ones follows.

George was a native of Cappadocia, living in the time of the Emperor Diocletian. He was born of noble parents and was a tribune in the army. In traveling to join his legion he came to a certain city in Libya called Selene. The inhabitants were in great trouble in consequence of the ravages of a monstrous dragon which issued from a neighboring marsh or lake, and devoured the flocks and herds of the people who had taken refuge within the walls; and to prevent him from approaching the city, the air of which was poisoned by its pestiferous breath, they offered him daily two sheep; and when the sheep were exhausted, they were bound to sacrifice two children daily, to save the rest. One day the lot fell upon the king’s daughter and she was led forth to the sacrifice, and the gates were shut against her. George was passing by on his steed and he met the maiden in tears. And he engaged to deliver her. After a terrible and prolonged battle he pinned the dragon to the earth with his lance; and he slew the dragon, cutting off its head. All the rewards bestowed upon the victor, George gave to the poor; and he went on his way, and came to Palestine. At this time Diocletian issued his edict against the Christians, and when George saw it posted in public, he was filled with indignation; and he tore it down and trampled it under foot. He was seized and carried before Dacian, the proconsul, and condemned to suffer for eight days the cruelest tortures. He was bound to a wooden cross and his body torn with sharp iron nails. He was burned with torches and salt rubbed into the wounds. He was compelled to drink poison, but it did not affect him. He was bound to a wheel full of sharp blades, but angels broke the wheel. They flung him into a cauldron of boiling lead; and when his executioners believed him subdued, they brought him to the temple to assist in the sacrifice. But he knelt and prayed, and thunder and lightning destroyed the temple and its idols. Then Dacian caused George to be beheaded.

Erasmus, the Campanian bishop, and a brilliant and pious man, left Antioch in fear of the despotism of Diocletian, who ordered that all who would not sacrifice to the idolatrous gods should be subjected to many tortures. And he lived in the wilderness for seven years in prayer and contemplation, receiving his food from the Lord through a raven. Afterwards, in obedience to an angelic voice, he went to the city and relieved many from demons, and with his teachings converted many to Christ. Therefore he was brought before Diocletian, and tortured with leaden scourges and with cudgels; later resin, sulphur, pitch, and oil were poured over him. But Erasmus remained unconsumed. By such a miracle many people were converted from idolatry to Christian faith. Later he was placed in a hard cell and covered with heavy iron weights; but at length was led forth by an angel. Afterwards he was taken by the Emperor Maximian and submerged in a caldron of seething lead, pitch and resin; but he remained unharmed. Through the guardianship of an angel he was taken out of the city at night to the seacoast, and by divine providence he was carried away in a small boat to Formia in Campania. At length he saw the apparition or a crown descending upon him, and he said: Lord, receive my spirit. And so he went to his holy end on the 3rd day of the month of June. His body is said to rest at Gaeta (Caiete) where his head is on display.

Erasmus, according to the Acts of the Martyrs, was a bishop who, on the breaking out of the persecution, retired to Mt. Lebanon, where he lived in a cave, and was fed by a raven which brought him daily a loaf of bread. He was arrested by order of Diocletian, and subjected to various ways. He was then conducted to Gaeta, where he expired peacefully. According to popular belief Erasmus died by having his bowels unwound and coiled upon a windlass, and thus he is represented in some works of art. In Naples he is regarded as the patron of sailors, with his name corrupted into Elmo.

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

Christopher (Cristoferus), the martyr, a man of erect stature and of unmatched size and strength, suffered death at this time, in the name of Christ, in the city of Samos, in the state of Lycia, in the province of Asia. He was first beaten with iron rods, then burned with flames; and yet remained firm through divine strength. Finally he was slain with arrows, and was beheaded on the 25th day of the month of July. As they say, he carried the Lord Jesus, in the person of an infant, on his shoulders across the water.[The legends surrounding Christopher rival those in number that surround George. Christopher was of the land of Canaan, where he was known as Offero. He was a man of colossal stature, and of terrible aspect. He was proud of his vast bulk and strength, and would serve none other than the greatest king. He traveled far and wide, and finding him, was engaged. And there came a minstrel who sang before the king, and in the course of his story made frequent mention of the Devil. Noting that the king crossed himself every time Satan was mentioned, Christopher inquired the reason. The king told him that he made the sign to preserve him from the power of Satan, fearing he might be overcome and slain by him. And so the great king confessed that there was a greater one than himself. So Christopher in disgust left the king’s service to seek the more powerful potentate. Finding him, he entered Satan’s service. As he journeyed along with his new master, they came upon a cross by the wayside. And the Evil One trembled and made a great circuit to avoid it. "Upon that cross died Jesus Christ, and when I behold it I must tremble and fly, for I fear him." So Christopher left the Devil, seeking Christ. From a hermit he learned that this Christ was the great king of heaven and earth, and that if he would serve him, he must fast and submit to other hard duties. Refusing to fast for fear of losing his strength, the hermit directed him to a certain river, stony and wide and deep, and often swelled by rains, and in which many people perished in attempting to pass over. "Since you will neither fast nor pray, go to that river, and use your strength to aid and save those who struggle with the stream, and those who are about to perish." This service pleased the giant; and having rooted up a palm tree from the forest, he used it for a staff to support his steps. He went to the stream, and on his shoulders he carried the weak across it, and he never wearied of his task. And the Lord was pleased. "Behold this strong man, who knows not yet the way to worship me, yet has found the way to serve me!" And Christopher built a rude hut beside the stream. One night he heard the plaintive voice of a child, which asked to be carried over the stream. And he found the child. He lifted it on his strong shoulders, and took his staff and entered the stream. The waters rose higher and higher, and the waves roared, and the wind blew; and the infant on his shoulders became heavier, until it seemed to him he must sink under the weight; and he began to fear; but at length he reached shore. And he asked the child, "Who are you? Had I carried the whole world on my shoulders, the burden could not have been heavier!" And the child replied: "Wonder not, for you have not only borne the world, but him who made the world . . . I accept your service. Plant your staff in the ground, and it shall put forth leaves and fruit." As Christopher did so, the dry staff flourished as a palm-tree in season. But the child vanished, and Christopher fell on his face, and confessed and worshipped Christ. Leaving that place he came to Samos, a city of Lycia, where he found many Christians who were tortured and persecuted; and he encouraged them and cheered them. For this he was seized and brought before the king, who ordered him to prison for confessing Christ. At length he was tortured, and finally beheaded.]

Cosmo (Cosmas) and Damian (Damnianus), the Christians, noted physicians, were imprisoned at this time. They were submerged in the sea, burned, stoned, shot, and at length beheaded. The blessed Cosmo, Damian, Antimus, Leontius, and Euprepius were martyred on the 27th day of September.[According to legend, Cosmo and Damian were brothers, and Arabians by birth, who dwelt in Aegas, a city in Cicilia. Their father died during their infancy, and their pious mother Theodora, brought them up with all diligence, and in the practice of every Christian virtue. They lived in the greatest abstinence, distributing their goods to the poor. They studied medicine and surgery, that they might prescribe for the sick, and relieve the sufferings of the wounded and infirm. They became noted physicians. They ministered to rich and poor alike, and even to animals. At length Diocletian and Maximian came to the throne. Those physicians, professing themselves Christians, were seized by Lycias, the proconsul of Arabia, and cast in prison. At first they were thrown into the sea, but an angel saved them; then into the fire, but the fire refused to consume them. They were then bound on two crosses and stoned, but the stones never reached them. Finally, they were beheaded. They are the patron saints of pharmacists, doctors, surgeons, dentists, barbers and hairstylists.]

Methodius, bishop first of the city of Olympus and afterwards of Tyre, in these times in the state of Calchis at the Negropontus (as the divine Jerome writes) was crowned with martyrdom. He was a highly learned man, and left many writings behind, especially his text On the Creation of the World, revealed to him in prison. He died on the 14th day of the Kalends in October. He also composed a brilliant speech against Porphyry as well as books such as his Symposium of Ten Virgins.

Methodius (d. 311 CE), bishop of Olympus in Lycia, and perhaps afterwards of Tyre (though no other account besides Jerome mentions this), wrote a treatise on the Resurrection against Origen, another against Porphyry, and several other works. His only surviving work is his Symposium of Ten Virgins, written in imitation of Plato’s Symposium. Unlike Plato’s speakers, who each describe and praise love, Methodius’ ten young ladies proclaim the glories and excellence of virginity.

The German edition of the Chronicle streamlines its entry for Methodius thus: "Methodius, bishop of the cities of Olympus and Tyre, was slain in these times at Negropontus. He was a highly learned man, and left many learned writings behind."

Gorgonius, a Roman soldier, was in these times living in Nicomedia. And he was strongly denouncing the persecution under Diocletian that was especially being brought against Christians. Captured by the emperor himself, he was ordered to be hanged, torn to pieces, and most cruelly roasted on a grill—but still he survived. On the Ides of September they killed him with a rope. Then his body was buried at Rome on the Via Latina.

Gorgonius: Diocletian having discovered that Peter, one of his officers, was a Christian, ordered him tortured. When Gorgonius and Dorotheus, two other officers, remonstrated with the emperor, he ordered them executed. Eusebius says that Peter was scourged, and as he bore this without showing anguish, Diocletian ordered him broiled on a gridiron. Gorgonius and Dorotheus were finally hung.

The German edition of the Chronicle streamlines its entry for Gorgonius thus: "Gorgonius, a Roman soldier, was in these times imprisoned by Diocletian at Nicomedia, and hanged, torn to pieces, roasted on a grill, and at length strangled with a rope."

Marcus and Marcellianus, brothers and Roman citizens, were arrested by a certain Duke Fabianus under this madness of persecution, and were immediately tied to a tree trunk, and sharp pegs were driven into their feet. And when, at length, they would not renounce the name of Jesus Christ, they were pierced with lances. Through these wounds they migrated to the heavens on the 14th of the Kalends of July.

Legend states that Marcus and Marcellinus (286 CE), twin brothers of a noble Roman family, had been converted and baptized in their youth and were married. When Diocletian ascended the throne, and before he issued his edict of persecution, the Christians in the capital and elsewhere suffered from popular tumults, or the ill will of cruel magistrates. Marcus and Marcellinus were imprisoned and condemned. Their friends obtained a respite to prevail upon them to submit to the state religion. For this purpose they were removed from prison to the house of Nicostratus, the registrar. However, through the efforts of Sebastian, who visited them and encouraged them, they remained steadfast, and their parents as well as Nicostratus and Chromatius were converted to Christianity. They were afterwards betrayed, ordered to be tied up and their feet to be nailed to a wooden post, and run through with lances.

The German edition of the Chronicle streamlines its entry for Marcus and Marcellianus thus: "Marcus and Marcellianus, brothers and Roman citizens, were imprisoned because of their Christian faith, tied to a tree trunk, and sharp pegs were driven into their feet. And when, at length, they would not renounce the name of Christ Jesus Christ, they were pierced with lances."

Maximus and Claudius, very illustrious men, were at this time, together with the noble wife and two sons of the former, in the city of Hostia, taken in hand by the people of the court of Diocletian and sent into exile; and at length were burned in the name of Christ on the 12th day of the Kalends of March. And thus by that burning they offered to God the sacrifice of their martyrdom.

Legend states that Maximus and Claudius were brothers, the former, count of the privy purse to Diocletian, while the latter held a post of distinction about the person of the emperor. They were of noble family, and when Galerius Maximianus, the Caesar, had lost his wife, Valeria, daughter of Diocletian, the emperor resolved on finding another wife for his son-in-law. Haring of the beauty and modesty of Susanna, daughter of Gabinius, he sent Claudius to the father to ask her hand. But Susanna had dedicated herself to Jesus Christ. Claudius and his brother Maximus calmly informed the emperor that the maiden preferred a heavenly crown to an earthly one. Diocletian, in fury, caused the brothers and their families to be hurried to Cumae, where they were burnt alive, and their ashes cast into the river. Gabinus and his daughter Susanna were kept in prison to suffer later.

The German edition of the Chronicle streamlines its entry for Maximus and Claudius thus: "Maximus and Claudius, the illustrious men, were at this time, together with the wife and two sons of the former, in the city of Hostia, taken in hand by the people of the court of Diocletian and sent into exile; and at length were burned in the name of Christ on the 18th day of February."


George (Georgius) is represented by a new and ornate woodcut portraying the saint in an elaborate coat of mail. However, instead of a helmet he wears a chaplet over his flowing tresses, and from the chaplet proceeds a plume. In his right hand he carries a spear with the banner of the resurrection. Before him lies the dragon, across which he has extended his left arm and hand, as though the ferocious creature were a pet dog. From under his left arm proceeds upward what would appear to be the dragon’s tail, twisting into a shape reminiscent of the number 8.


Erasmus is portrayed as a bishop. In his left hand he holds the crozier, and in his right, a windlass symbolism of his martyrdom, brought about by having his bowels unwound and coiled upon a windlass.


Christopher (Cristoferus) is portrayed as a sturdy character in flowing garb. The little Christ child, also in voluminous habit, confidently sits on his shoulder, with a finger of his right hand extended over the saint in blessing. St. Christopher, although portrayed only to the waist, is proceeding forward, firmly holding his rugged staff, a small tree trunk, with both hands. The garments of men and Child are fluttering in a strong wind, and the expression on the saint’s face is that of one sustaining a heavy burden. The Christ-child wears a floriated nimbus; the saint none at all.


Cosmo (Cosmas) and Damian (Damianus), brothers, and both physicians, are in dual portrait, each clad in medieval cloaks and headgear. As symbols, one carries an apothecary’s mortar, the other the usual bottle used by medieval physicians for examination of the patient’s urine.


Methodius, the bishop, holds the palm-branch of martyrdom (in the German edition he is portrayed in the raiment of a medieval doctor, and wears a fez-shaped cap).


Marcus and Marcellianus are represented by a single portrait (in the German edition they are represented by a dual portrait).


Maximus and Claudius are represented by a dual portrait (in the German edition they are represented by a single portrait).