E-Mail: – Bibliotecário- J. Filardo

The Legend of the Quatuor Coronati

Based on the Arundel MS. – published in AQC vol 1- p.60)

quator coronatum

Here begins the Passion of the Holy Martyrs Claudius, Nicostratus, Simphorian, Castorius, and Simplicius on VI November

In the days when Dioclitian went to Pannonia, that he might be present at the hewing out of various metals from the mountains, it happened that, when he assembled together the workers of metal, he found amongst them some men, by name Claudius, Castorius, Simphorian, and Nicostratus, endowed with an art of great skill—wonderful workers in the art of carving. They were Christians in secret, keeping the commandments of God, and whatever work they did in the art of sculpture they did in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It happened on a certain day, as Dioclitian was giving orders for the workmen to carve an image of the sun, with his chariot, chariot horses, and every­thing from one stone, that at that time all the work­men deliberating with the philosophers began to polish their conversation on this art; and when they had coma upon a huge stone from the metal of Thasos, their art of sculpture was of no use, accord­ing to the command of Dioclitian Augustus.

And for many days there was a contention between the workmen and philosophers. But on a certain day all the workmen came together into one place, seven hundred and twenty-two, with the five philosophers, to the surface of the stone, and began to examine the veins of the stone, and there was a wonderful purpose amongst the workmen and the philosophers. At the same time Simphorian, trust­ing in the faith which he held, said to his fellow- workmen: I ask you, all of you, give me your confi­dence, and I will find it out, with my disciples, Claudius, Simplicius, Nicostratus, and Castorius. And, examining the veins of the metal, they began their art of carving in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And their work met with success, according to the commands of Augustus.

At the same time Dioclitian Augustus took delight in the art, and, seized with an excessive love for it, gave orders that columns, or capitals of the columns, should be cut out from the porphyry by the workmen. And he called Claudius, Simphorian, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius to him, and, receiving them with joy, he said to them: I desire that the capitals of the columns may be hewn from the porphyry. And by his order they departed with the crowd of workmen and the philosophers, and when they came to the mountain of porphyry, which is called fiery,  they began to hew the stone in forty-one feet,

Claudius did everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his art served him in good stead. But Simplicius, who was a Gentile, what­ever he did was of no use. But on a certain day Nicostratus said to Simplicius: My brother, how is is it your tool is broken ? Simplicius said: I beg you temper it for me that it may not break. Claudius replied, and said: Give me all the imple­ments of your art. And when he had given him his carving tools, Claudius said: In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ let this iron be strong and fit to work with. And from that hour Simplicius began his carving with his own tool, like Simphorian, well and properly.

And so, they took pains in carving objects of varied workmanship, and their art served them in good stead, on the plan of those who did nothing by skill of the art of philosophy, but performed exqui­site work in the name of Christ. When the philo­sophers saw this they made a suggestion to Dioclitian Augustus, saying: Mighty Prince, adorner of this age, great is the sagacity of your command and clemency in this work of carving the mountain, that the precious stone should be hewn for the wonderful adornment of your kingdom; and many beautiful works have been made in the metal of the columns and with the wonderful labour of your highness. Dioclitian Augustus said: I am verily delighted with the skill of these men. And he caused them all five to be brought into his presence, to whom in his joy he spake thus: By the power of the gods, I will elevate you with riches and presents, only cut me out first images from this mountain of porphyry. And he-bade them make images of Victory, Cupids, and more shells, but especially an image of –Aesculapius

And they carved shells, Victories, and Cupids, but did not make an image of Aesculapius. And after some days they offered their work of images with their varied ornamentation. Dioclitian Augus­tus was equally pleased with their skill in masonic work. He said to Claudius, Simphorian, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius: I rejoice much in the skill of your art, yet why did ye not show your love by carving an image of Aesculapius, the god of health? Go now in peace, and give your attention to this image, and fashion lions pouring water, and eagles and stags and likenesses of many nations.

Then they went away and did according to their custom, and performed all the work except the image of Aesculapius.

But after some months the philosophers sug­gested to Diocletian Augustus that he should see the work of the workmen. And he ordered every­thing to be brought into a public place; and when they had been brought the image of Aesculapius, which Diocletian Augustus had ordered, was not displayed, and when he, in his excessive desire, demanded it, the philosophers made a suggestion to Diocletian Augustus, saying: Most glorious and august Caesar, who lovest all men, and art a friend of peace, let your clemency know that these men whom you love are Christians, and perform whatever is commanded them in the name of Christ. Diocletian Augustus replied, and said: If all their works are known to be magnificent by the name of Christ, it is not a matter for reproof but rather of admiration. The philosophers answered, and said : Knowest thou not, most upright emperor, that they are not obedient to your kind commands, through a reprehensible knowledge, and therefore would not display the magnificence of their art in the building of an image of the god Aesculapius. Diocletian Augustus said: Let those men be brought to me.

And when Claudius, Simphorian, Castorius, Nicostratus, and Simplicius had been summoned Diocletian Augustus said to them: Know ye with what affection and favour our grace has loved you, and how I encouraged you with a loving consideration? Why do ye not obey our commands that you should carve an image of the god .Aesculapius out of the porphyry? Claudius replied : Most generous Augustus, we have obeyed your grace, and have been subservient to your mightiness, but an image of that most wretched man will we never make, for it is written, ” They that make them are like unto them, and so are all those who put their trust in them.”

Then the philosophers were enraged against them, saying to Diocletian: Most revered Augustus, you see their perfidy, how they answer your grace with haughty words. Diocletian Augustus said: Skilled artificers should not be hated, but rather honoured. But the philosophers said: Therefore let them obey your command or we find others to do according to your wishes. Diocletian Augustus said: Can there be found men more skilled in this art? The philosophers said: We have procured men supported by love of the gods 1 Diocletian Augustus says: If you have obtained men to make the image of the god Aesculapius from this metal (and he constrains them by the punishment of sacrilege) they, too, shall be great through our generosity.

Then the philosophers began to dispute with. Claudius, Simphorian, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius, saying: Why do ye not obey the com­mands of our most revered master, and do his will? Claudius replied, and said-: We do not blaspheme our Creator, and confound ourselves, lest we be found guilty in His sight. The philosophers said: It is evident you are Christians P Castorius said: Truly we are Christians.

Then the philosophers chose other workmen in masonry, and they carved Aesculapius before their eyes. And when they saw the image from the [preconisso] square metal, and had brought it to the philosophers, after thirty-one days the philosophers announced to Diocletian Augustus that the image of Aesculapius was finished.

And Diocletian ordered the image to be brought to him. And he marvelled, and said: This is the genius of those men who have pleased us with their art of sculpture. The philosophers said: Most sacred and ever august prince, let it be known to your clemency that these men whom your grace declares to be the most skilful in the masonic art, namely Claudius, Simphorian, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius, are heretic Christians, and, by the charms of incantations, the whole human race is humbled to them. Diocletian said: If they obey not the commands of justice, and the word of your accusation is true, let them bear the judgment of the heretic.

And he ordered a certain tribune, Lampadius by name, to listen to them, together with the philosophers, with temperate words, saying: Try them with a fair examination. And in whom com­plaint of false witness is discovered, let them be smitten with the punishment of guilt.

At the same time Lampadius, the tribune, ordered a tribunal to be prepared in the same place before the temple of the Sun, and all the workmen to be assembled, and Simphorian, Claudius, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius, and the philosophers. To whom publicly, and with a loud voice, Lampadius, the tribune, said: Oar most revered lords and princes have given this command, in order that the truth between the philosophers and masters, Claudius, Simphorian, Castorius, Nicostratus, and Simplicius may be made known, and it may be clear if this charge is true.

Then all the workmen, instructed by the philosophers through envy, cried out: For the safety of our most revered Caesar away with the heretics, away with the magicians. But Lampadius, the tribune, seeing that the workmen were crying out through envy, said: The trial is not yet completed; how can I give sentence? The philosophers said: If they are not magicians, let them worship Caesar’s god. Straightway Lampadius, the tribune, commanded Simphorian, Claudius, Castorius, Nicostratus, and Simplicius, to worship the Sun God, that you may confound the purpose of the philosophers. They, replying, said: We do never worship the work of our own hands, but we worship the God of heaven and earth, who is the everlasting Ruler and Eternal God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The philosophers said: So thou hast learnt the truth tell it unto Cesar. Then Lampadius, the tribune, ordered them to be thrust into the common prison.

But after nine days, quiet being restored, they told the matter to Diocletian Augustus; on the same day, also, the philosophers accused them, through envy, to the prince, saying: If these men should escape, the worship of the gods is destroyed. Diocletian Augustus said, in anger; By the sun himself, but if they sacrifice not to the Sun God according to custom, and obey not my instructions, I will consume them with various and exquisite tortures.*

Then Lampadius rose from his judgment seat, considering the command of Diocletian, and again related the matter to Diocletian Augustus. Then Diocletian Augustus, considering their art, ordered Lampadius, the tribune, saying; Henceforth, if they have not sacrificed and consented to worship the Sun God, afflict them with stripes of scorpions. But if they consent, lead them to our grace.

But after five days he again sat in the same place in front of the temple of the Sun and ordered them to be led in by Voice of the herald. And he showed them the terrors and various kinds of the tortures. To whom Lampadius spoke thus, saying: Listen to me, and escape the tortures and be dear to and friends of the nobles and princes, and sacrifice to the Sun God. For it is not now for me to speak to you in gentle words. Claudius replied, with his companions, with great confidence: We fear not terrors, nor is our purpose broken by soft words, but we fear everlasting torments. For let Diocletian Augustus know that we are Christians, and will never depart from His worship.

Lampadius, the tribune, enraged, commanded them to be stripped and beaten with scorpions, by proclamation of the herald, saying: Despise not the commands of our princes.

In that same hour Lampadius the tribune was seized by an evil spirit, and tearing himself, expired sitting in his judgment seat. When his wife and family heard this they ran to the philosophers with great wailing that it might be made known to Diocletian Augustus. When Diocletian. Augustus heard this he was violently enraged, and said with excessive fury: Let coffins of lead be made, and let them be shut up alive therein, and cast into the river.

Then Nicetius, a certain citizen, who sat by Lampadius, performed the order of Diocletian Augustus, and made coffins of lead, and shut them all alive in them, and ordered them to be cast into the river. But the holy Quirillus, the Bishop, when he heard of it in his prison, was deeply grieved, and passed to the Lord, all of whom suffered on the sixth day of the Ides of November.

In those same days Diocletian Augustus jour­neyed from thence to Syrme. But after forty-two days a certain Nichodemus, a Christian, raised the coffins with the bodies of the saints, and placed them in his own house. But Diocletian Augustus, coming from Syrme after eleven months entered Rome, and immediately commanded a temple of Aesculapius to be built in the baths of Trajan, and an image to be made from the [preconisso] squared stone.

When this had been done, he commanded that all the soldiery coming to the image of Aesculapius should be compelled to offer incense with sacrifices, especially the city militia. And when all were compelled to sacrifice, certain four [cornicularii] wing-officers were compelled, but when they resisted it was told Diocletian Augustus. And he ordered them to be put to death in front of the image itself with strokes of the plumbata.[1] And when they were beaten for a long time they gave up the ghost, whose bodies Diocletian ordered to be cast into the street to the dogs. And their bodies lay there five days.

Then the blessed Sebastian, with the holy bishop Melchiades, collected their bodies by night, and buried them on the road to Lavica, three miles from the city, with the other holy men in the cemetery. Whilst this had happened at the same time, namely, on the 6th of the Ides of November, but two years later: and their names could with difficulty be found. The blessed Melchiades the bishop ordered that under the names of the holy martyrs Claudius, Nicostratus, Simphorian, Simplicius, and Castorius, their anniversary should be observed, our Lord Jesus Christ reigning, who with the Father and Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, God through all eternity. Amen.

Link to the PDF file containing the Latin text THE LEGEND OF THE QUATUOR CORONATI

[1] Thongs weighted with leaden balls.

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