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

Catherine (Catherina), a very highly renowned Egyptian virgin, flourished at this time (as her history informs us); and she suffered martyrdom after Diocletian, under Maxentius. This most pious virgin was of noble blood. Her father was named Costus. He was a king of the city of Alexandria. And although she was deprived of her father in her younger days, and from him as a king received a great paternal inheritance, we read of her that under the influence of riches, she was not idle nor inclined to feminine weakness, but was so gifted in extraordinary matters that it is to be marveled that in her tender years she undertook the contest of disputation with the highly wise of the world. This most divine virgin was instructed by a hermit of Christian faith and wisdom, and she was a spouse of Christ. While the Diocletian persecution still raged, and continued under the Emperor Maxentius at Alexandria, she saw a number of Christians crying because they were compelled to worship the idolatrous gods. And she stepped into the presence of Maxentius and upbraided him because of his idle worship of the gods and for his cruelty. Maxentius ordered her taken to the palace and guarded with all care. But when he heard her after the sacrifice, he marveled at her eloquence and wisdom; and he sent for fifty world-wise men. In his presence they were won over and confirmed the Christian faith, and therefore burned. Maxentius ordered Catherine placed in a dark dungeon and starved for twelve days. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to her, saying: You favored maiden of the Lord, be firm, for the Lord is with you. Many will be converted to Christ through you, and will enter glory with the sign of victory. After that she converted to the faith the soldier Porphyrius (Porphirium) with two hundred soldiers, and also the wife of the emperor, and many others, and sent them to heaven before her. A wheel with blades, prepared for her martyrdom, was soon broken and many people injured by it. Finally she was beheaded. At the place of her suffering she gave assurance of her assistance to all who preserved the memory of her suffering. After her decapitation milk flowed from her body. Her most holy body was carried by angels from there up to Mount Sinai, and so buried with honor in the 310th year of the Lord, on the 8th day of the Kalends of December.

Catherine: Many legends surround this saint. The one that follows is, perhaps, the most common. Constantius Chlorus, father of Constantine the Great, had a first wife before he married the Empress Helena. She died in giving birth to a son, whose name was Costis (Costus or Constus), and whom his father married to the only daughter and heiress of the King of Egypt, a virgin princess, whose name was Sabinella. With her he lived and reigned in great prosperity and happiness for several years, but in accordance with pagan law. One day Queen Sabinella had a prophetic dream in which was pre-figured the glory of the first-born. She gave birth to Catherine. From her earliest infancy she was the wonder of all who beheld her for grace of mind and person. At fifteen there was none comparable to her in the learning and philosophy. Her father ordained for her a tower in his palace furnished with all kinds of mathematical instruments, in which she might study with pleasure. When Catherine was about fifteen, her father, King Costis, died, and left her heiress to his kingdom. But when she became queen, she showed the same contempt for all worldly care and royal splendor that she had previously exhibited, for she shut herself up in her palace, and devoted herself to the study of philosophy. The people therefore asked her to take a husband who should assist her in the government and lead them forth to war. And she had a great battle to keep her virginity. And there was a certain holy hermit who dwelt in a desert about two days' journey from Alexandria. To him the Virgin Mary appeared, and she sent him to Catherine with a message of comfort, telling her that the husband whom she was to espouse was her Son, who was greater than any monarch of this world, and Lord of all power and might. And the hermit gave her a picture of the Virgin Mary and her divine Son. Catherine forgot all her books, her spheres and her philosophers, and placing the picture in her study, had a dream that night. She dreamed that by the side of an old hermit she was taken to heaven, presented to the Virgin Mary, and offered to her son; but that the Lord considered her neither fair nor beautiful. She awoke in a passion of grief, and wept until it was morning. She called the hermit to her and declared her vision, and seeing she was still in pagan darkness, he fully instructed her in the Christian faith, and baptized her with her mother. And again the Virgin appeared to her, accompanied by her Son and a host of angels. And learning that Catherine had been baptized, He put a ring on her finger in evidence of their betrothal. When she awoke, the ring was on her finger, and from that point on, regarding herself as the betrothed of Christ, she despised the world, thinking only of the day when she should be reunited with her Lord. She dwelt in the palace until her mother died.

At this time Maxentius came to Alexandria, and gathering together all the Christians, ordered them to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Catherine heard the cries of the people, confronted the tyrant, pleading for her fellow Christians, demonstrating the truth of the Christian and the falsehood of the pagan religion. Being confounded by her arguments and eloquence, Maxentius ordered fifty of the most eloquent philosophers and rhetoricians collected from all parts of the empire, and promised to reward them if they would overcome the Christian princess in argument. But they confessed themselves vanquished after hearing Catherine's arguments, and the emperor consigned them to the flames.

Then Maxentius ordered Catherine dragged to his palace. He tried to corrupt her, but failed. Being obliged to leave on a warlike expedition, he ordered his second-in-charge, Porphyry, to cast her into a dungeon and starve her to death; but the angels ministered to her. When Maxentius returned, he was seized with fury. He condemned his wife, the empress, and Porphyry, whom Catherine had converted to Christianity in the meantime, to be put to a cruel death; and again he tempted Catherine, offering to make her his empress. But she scorned him. He now ordered four wheels to be constructed, with sharp points and blades on it, two revolving in one direction, two in another, so that between them Catherine would be torn to pieces. But as soon as she was bound between them the wheels broke into pieces, and the fragments flew about so that the executioners and 3000 persons perished that day. Finally Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded, and this was done. The angels carried her body over the desert and the Red Sea, and deposited it on Mount Sinai.

Sophronia also was condemned for loss of her virginity by Maxentius, and as she could not avoid the danger, she killed herself in the manner of Lucretia.

Arnobius Africanus, a very celebrated philosopher and a well informed rhetorician (though very old) was held in great veneration at this time. He taught rhetoric in Africa, and wrote many books against the pagans.[Arnobius the elder, a native of Africa, lived about 300 CE, in the reign of Diocletian. He was at first a teacher of rhetoric in Sicca in Africa, but afterwards embraced Christianity; and to remove all doubts as to the reality of his conversion, he wrote, while yet a catechumen, his celebrated work (also known as [i.e., Pagans]) in seven books.] Lucian (Lucianus), the orator, and a priest of the Nicomedian church, in this period wrote many books and letters at Heliopolis, a city of Bithynia. He suffered martyrdom for Christ's sake. Likewise Jacob (Jacobus), nicknamed the Wise, a priest at Nisibina, a city of the Persias, at this time also wrote many letters against the heretics, and others for our faith. He at last died (according to Jerome) in the time of the ruler Constantius.[This last sentences is not in the German edition of the . Constantius II was Roman emperor from 337-361.]

Lactantius Firmianus, a very distinguished orator and philosopher, disciple of the aforesaid Arnobius, was of great name and fame at this time. While teaching the art of eloquence at Nicomedia, he was, by reason of his virtue and greatness, ordered to Rome, together with Flavius, the grammarian. After he had taught there for some time, he became indigent because of the lack of students. Therefore he occupied himself in writing books, and at this he was very able; for after the time of Cicero, he was the second foremost in this art. In his last years he was instructor of the emperor Crispis, the son of Constantine, in Gaul. He wrote praiseworthy books and also various letters and epistles to many persons.[Lactantius was a celebrated Christian Father, but his exact name, date of birth, and place of nativity are not known. In modern works he is called Lucius Coelius Firmianus Lactantius. Since he is spoken of as far advanced in years about 315 CE, he must have been born not later than the middle of the third century, probably in Italy, possibly at Firmum, on the Adriatic, and certainly studied in Africa, where he became the pupil of Arnobius, who taught rhetoric at Sicca. His fame became so widely extended that about 301 he was invited by Diocletian to settle at Nicomedia, where he practised his art. At this period he appears to have become a Christian. He was summoned to Gaul about 312-318, when now an old man, to superintend the education of Crispus, son of Constantine, and he probably died at Treves some ten or twelve years afterward. A number of his works are still extant. The style of Lactantius, formed upon the model of the great orator of Rome, gained him the appellation of the Christian Cicero.]

Eusebius, a bishop of the city of Caesarea, in Palestine, who, on account of his friendship with the martyr Pamphilus, took the name of Pamphilus. And with this same Pamphilus, a very diligent searcher of the books of the Scriptures. He was a man worthy of remembrance, was at this time esteemed by the distinguished and the noble, not only among the pagans, but also the Christians, and not only for his experience in many things, but also by reason of his wonderful knowledge of the arts. And although this Eusebius was attached to the Arian heresy, when he came to the Nicaean Council, he was so enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he came into accord with the fathers of the church, and from that point on piously lived in the Christian faith up to the time of his death. Being a well informed and highly learned man, he was, with Pamphilus, the martyr, a very diligent searcher of the books of the Scriptures. He wrote many books at this time, especially the books of Evangelical Preparation; the Ecclesiastical History against Porphyry, that most vehement enemy of the Christians; he composed six books known as the Defenses in defense of Origen; three books On the Life of Pamphilus (Pomphili) the Martyr, from whom, out of love, he took his surname; in addition very learned commentaries on one hundred and fifty Psalms; and twenty books of the life and suffering of the martyrs and of virgins, especially, his Evangelical Preparation; and also a history of chronicles from the time of Abraham to the Year of the Lord 300, which the pious Jerome completed. This Eusebius, after the conversion of the Emperor Constantine, was on good terms with the latter while he lived.

Eusebius of Caesarea (Eusebius Pamphili) lived about 260-340 CE. He was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, and an ecclesiastical historian. He was born probably in Palestine and died as bishop of Caesarea. In early youth he became acquainted with Pamphilus, presbyter of the Church of Caesarea, and founder of a theological school there. After the death of his friend, Eusebius withdrew to Tyre, and later, while the Diocletian persecution was still raging, to Egypt, where he seems to have been imprisoned, but soon released. He became bishop of Caesarea between 313 and 315, and in 331 declined the patriarchate of Antioch. Eusebius was one of the most learned men of his age, and stood high in the favor of Constantine. At the Council of Nicaea (325) he held the large middle party of Moderates and submitted the first draft of the creed afterwards adopted with important changes. Later he yielded to the Alexandrian party, and voted for a creed that repudiated the Arian position, with which he had previously sympathized. He seems to have discovered during the Council that the Alexandrians were right in claiming that Arrius was carrying his subordinationism so far as to deny all real divinity to Christ. With the extreme views of the Athanasian party, however, he was not in complete sympathy, for they seemed to savor of Sabellianism, which always remained his chief dread.

Eusebius's reputation rests on his vast erudition and his sound judgment. He is best known for his Ecclesiastical History, completed about 324 or 325. It is the most important ecclesiastical history of ancient times, and is written in the belief that the old order of things was passing away, and with the apologetic purpose of exhibiting the history of Christianity as a proof of its divine origin. Many prominent figures of the first three centuries are known to us only from its pages.

The paragraph devoted to Eusebius in the Latin edition of the Chronicle is, perhaps, the most in need of a strong editorial hand in the entire text for it is rife with repetitions, non sequiturs, etc. The German edition of the Chronicle corrects nearly all of these problems, but also removes most of the titles of the works composed by Eusebius.


Catherine, portrayed with the symbols of her martyrdom, the broken wheel and the sword.