During his time as a political prisoner, William Paris, Chaucer’s contemporary, wrote what has been called “The Legend of Christina” (1397 or so). Originally written in Middle English, below are excerpts from a Modern English translation from Chaste Passion: Medieval English Virgin Martyr Legends, edited and translated by Karen A. Winstead pp. 63-69. I would have preferred to post the original in Middle English, but alas I could only find a very small excerpt on the internet.
Holy Saint Christina, pray to God for us! (And happy name’s day to my mum!)
That maiden had gods of shiny gold and silver in the tower with her, which she was supposed to worship and honor day and night. But suddenly almighty God sent help: he made her yearn to bring her soul to heaven’s light. The holy ghost within Christine taught her to forsake every one of her false gods, which are only pallid sticks and stones. She resolved to fear nothing but think only of heaven. See how God can turn non-Christians into his holy martyrs! Some – like good Saint John the Baptist – had grace before they were born; some – like fair Christine – acquired it in their youth; and some – as we can see in Paul’s life – got it after youth was gone…
She had incense, but she hid it in a window, and she did so in good conscience, for she intended never to sacrifice to the false gods of heathendom, no matter who told her to. She asked Christ that she might be martyred before that happened!
One day Urban wanted to see his daughter. Christine’s attendants all said, “Lord Urban, we tell you that your daughter and our noble lady scorns our goes and everything has to do with them. In fact, she says she’ll be a Christian if she can!”
“Fetch her,” said Urban. “I want her brought before the bar and I’ll try to make her change her wicked ideas. She said she wasn’t my daughter… She broke my richly crafted gods. No wonder I’m furious!
Then the lovely maiden Christine said to her father, who sat so high, “What an honor you’re doing me by no calling me the devil’s daughter! The child of a devil is a devil himself, and you father, are the direct descendant off that cursed fiend satan!”
Urban then commanded that her clear white flesh be scraped from her bones with sharp hooked nails… By Saint John, it was a shame to see what was done to that maiden!
When day had gone and night had come, they tied an exceedingly heavy stone around her neck, then they threw her into the sea. But once that evil deed had been done, lovely angels came from heaven and, through God’s grace and great power, held her up. Then Christ himself through God’s grace and great power, held her up. Then came down and baptized Christine in the sea. It w is written that he said these very words: “In my father and in myself Jesus Christ, God’s heavenly son, and in the holy ghost, us three, I baptize you with the water.”
Saint Christine said, with heart and soul, “Thank you, God in majesty for all you’ve done to show your might through me. In all my ordeals you’ve protected me, letting neither fire nor water harm me. Now I think it’s time for me to be brought to the fair bliss of heaven.”
[Julian] beside himself with fury, he shot her with three arrows. Two landed in her heart, the third in her side. When Christine was struck, her soul want to radiant heaven, where she would feel no more pain.
Her body lies in a strong castle – the book calls it Bolsena – where many sick people have recovered their health, and many blind people have recovered their sight. I truly believe that if anyone prays earnestly to that damsel, she will help him with all her might – if what they want is good and right.
Jesus Christ, God’s mighty son, who came down to amend our ills and settled in a pure virgin, Mary, now your mother, grant that all who have heard this will see you in heaven. Let them see you sitting there in bliss with Christine, your radiant maiden! Amen.
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