The Legend of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins
The Golden Legend version: Jacobus de Voragine,
Then virgins came from all parts, and men came to see this great company, and many bishops came to join them in their pilgrimage. Among them was Pantulus, bishop of Basle, who went with them to Rome, and returned from there with them and received martyrdom. Also in the pilgrimage were Gerasine, queen of Sicily, who had changed her cruel tyrant of a husband into a meek lamb. She was sister of Maurice the bishop, and of Daria, mother of Ursula. Ursulaís father had kept her informed by secret letters. She, inspired by God, took with her her four daughters, Babilla, Juliana, Victoria and Aurea, and her little son Adrian, which, for love of his sisters, went on the same pilgrimage. All came into Britain.
By the counsel of this queen the
virgins were gathered together from many realms, and she was leader of
them, and suffered martyrdom with them.
Then two wicked princes of the
chivalry of Rome, Maximus and Africanus, saw this great company of
virgins, and the many men and women assembled with them. They concluded
that the Christian religion would much be increased by them, and so they
found out the details of their journey. They then sent messengers to
Julian, their cousin, prince of the lineage of the Huns, to tell him
that he should gather his army, assemble at Cologne, and there behead
them because they were Christian.
Ethereus, the betrothed husband
of Ursula, waiting in Britain, was warned by a vision of an angel that
he should exhort his mother to become Christian. His father had died the
first year that he was christened, and Ethereus, his son, succeeded him.
All these virgins came with the
bishops to Cologne, and found that it was besieged by the Huns. When the
Huns saw them they began to run upon them with a great cry, and
slaughtered all the great multitude like wolves on sheep. And when they
were all beheaded, they came to the blessed Ursula. The prince of the
Huns, seeing her marvellous beauty, was abashed, and began to comfort
her upon the death of the virgins, and promised to her to take her to
his wife. When she had refused him and despised him, he shot at her an
arrow, and pierced her through the body, and so accomplished her
A certain abbot requested a body of one of these virgins from the abbess of the place where these holy virgins rest in Cologne, and promised that he would set it in his church in a shrine of silver. But when he had it, he kept it a year upon the altar in a chest of tree. And in a night as the abbot sang matins, the virgin descended from the altar bodily, and bowed before the altar, and went through the choir. seeing The monks were abashed, and the abbot ran and found the chest was empty. Then the abbot went to Cologne and told to the abbess what has happened. They went they to the place from where they had taken the body, and found it had returned there. The abbot begged pardon, and prayed the abbess that he might have the same body, or another, promising to make the promised shrine, but his request was refused.There was a religious monk who had great devotion to these holy virgins. It happened that one day, when he was sick, he saw a fair and noble virgin appear to him. She asked him if he knew her. He was amazed by this vision, and said that he had no knowledge of her. She told him that she was one of the virgins to whom he had such great devotion, and that he should have a reward. If he would say eleven thousand paternosters for the love and honour of the virgins, they would come to his aid and comfort at the hour of his death. Then she vanished away. He carried out her request as soon as he was able, then called his abbot, and asked to be anointed. As soon as he had been anointed he cried out: Make room for the Holy virgins! When the abbot demanded to know what he meant, he told him of virginís promise. Then they all withdrew. When they returned, they found he had departed out of this world unto our Lord.
Then let us devoutly give praise unto the blessed Trinity, and pray that by the merits of this great multitude of martyrs he will forgive and pardon us of our sins, that after this life we may come unto this holy company in heaven. Amen.