Eufemia was daughter of a senator, and saw christian
men in the time of Diocletian so sore tormented and all to-rent by
divers torments, that she came to the judge and confessed her to
be christian. And she comforted by example the courages of other
men, and by her constancy. And when the judge slew the christian
men, the one tofore another, and made others to be present because
they should be afeard of that they saw the others so cruelly
tormented and broken, and that they should sacrifice for dread and
fear, and when Eufemia saw even thus tofore her the holy saints,
she was the more constant by the steadfastness of the martyrs, and
spoke to the judge, and said that she suffered wrong of him.
Then the judge was glad, weening that she would have
consented to do sacrifice, and when he demanded of her what wrong
he had done to her, she said to him: For sith I am of noble
lineage, why puttest thou tofore me the strangers and unknown, and
makest them go to Christ tofore me? For it were my pleasure to go
thither by martyrdom tofore them. And the judge said to her: I had
supposed thou wouldst have returned in thy thought, and I was glad
that thou haddest remembered thy noblesse.
And then she was inclosed in the prison, and the day
following, without bonds, was brought tofore the judge. And then
she complained right grievously why against the laws of the
emperors she was alone spared for to be out of bonds. And then she
was long beaten with fists, and after, sent again to prison, and
the judge followed her, and would have taken her by force for to
have accomplished his foul lust, but she defended her forcibly,
and the virtue divine made the hands of the Judge to be lame.
And then the judge weened to have been enchanted, and
sent to her the provost of his house for to promise to her many
things for to make her consent to him, but he might never open the
prison which was shut, neither with key ne with axes, till he was
ravished with a devil, crying and treating himself, that unnethe
And then she was drawn out and set upon a wheel full
of burning coals. And the artillour, that was master of the
torment, had given a token to them to turn it, that when he should
make a sound, that they all should turn it, and the fire should
spring out and all to-break and rend the body of the virgin; but
by the ordinance of God the iron that the artillour and master had
in his hand, fell to the earth, and made the sound. And they
turned hastily so that the wheel burnt the master of the work and
kept Eufemia without hurt, sitting upon the wheel. And the parents
of the artillour wept and put the fire under the wheel and would
have burnt Eufemia with the wheel, but the wheel was burnt, and
Eufemia was unbounden by the angel of God, and was seen to stand
all whole, unhurt, in a high place.
And then Apulius said to the judge: The virtue of
christian people may not be overcome but by iron, therefore I
counsel thee to do smite off her head. Then they set up ladders,
and as one would have set hand on her, he was anon smitten with a
palsy, and was borne thence half dead. And another named Sosthenes
went up on high, but anon he was changed in his courage and
repented him and required her humbly pardon, and when he had his
sword drawn he cried to the judge that he had liefer slay himself
than touch her whom the angels defended.
At the last, when she was taken thence, the judge
said to his chancellor that he should send to her all the young
men that were jolly, for to enforce and to make her do their will
till she should fail and die. And then he entered in and saw with
her many fair virgins praying with her, and she made him to be
christened with her admonishments.
And then the provost did do take the virgin by the
hair and hung her thereby, and she ever abode constant and
immovable. And then he did do shut her in prison without meat
seven days, and pressed her there between four great stones as who
should press olives, but she was every day fed with an angel. And
when she was between those two hard stones she made her prayers,
and the stones were converted into right soft ashes.
Then the provost was ashamed for to be vanquished of
a maid; and then he made her to be thrown into a pit whereas cruel
beasts were, which devoured every man that came therein and
swallowed them in. And anon they ran to this holy virgin in
fawning her, and joined their tails together, and made of them a
chair for her to sit on. And when the judge saw that, he was much
confounded, so that almost he died for anguish and sorrow.
Then the butcher came for to avenge the injury of his
lord and smote his sword into her side, and all to-hewed her and
made her there the martyr of Jesu Christ our Lord. And the judge
clad him with clothes of silk, and hung on him ouches [brooches,
jewelry items] and brooches of gold, but when he should have
issued out of the pit, he was ravished of the beasts, and all
devoured anon. And then his people sought him long, and unnethe
found they a little of his bones with his clothes of silk and his
ouches of gold. And then the judge ate himself for madness, and so
was found dead wretchedly.
And Eufemia was buried in Chalcedonia, and by her merits all the Jews and paynims of Chalcedonia believed in Jesu Christ. And she suffered death about the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty. And S. Ambrose saith of this virgin thus:
The holy virgin, triumphant in virginity, retaining the mitre, deserved to be clad with the crown, by whose merits the wicked enemy is vanquished, and Priscus, her adversary and judge, is overcome. The virgin is saved from the furnace of fire, hard stones be converted into powder, wild beasts be made meek and tame, and incline down their necks, and all manner of pains and torments by her orations and prayers be overcome. And at the last, smitten with a sword, she left the cloister of her flesh, and is joined to the celestial company, glad and joyous. And, blessed Lord, this blessed virgin commendeth to thee thy church, and, good Lord, let her pray to thee for us sinners, and this virgin, without corruption flourishing, get unto us that our desires may be granted of thee.
The iconography of St. Euphemia is available at the Christian iconography website.
For other saints, see the index to this Golden Legend website.
Scanned by Robert Blackmon, firstname.lastname@example.org
This text was taken from the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
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E-text © Paul Halsall, September 2000 email@example.com
Reformatted with paragraphs, rubrics, italics, and explanatory insertions by Richard Stracke, Georgia Regents University