The Golden Legend: The Nativity of Our Lord
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Here followeth the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When the world had endured five thousand and nine hundred years, after Eusebius the
holy saint, Octavian the Emperor commanded that all the world should be described, so that
he might know how many cities, how many towns, and how many persons he had in all the
universal world. Then was so great peace in the earth that all the world was obedient to
him. And therefore our Lord would be born in that time, that it should be known that he
brought peace from heaven. And this Emperor commanded that every man should go into the
towns, cities or villages from whence they were of, and should bring with him a penny in
acknowledgment that he was subject to the Empire of Rome. And by so many pence as should
be found received, should be known the number of the persons. Joseph which then was of the
lineage of David, and dwelled in Nazareth, went into the city of Bethlehem, and led with
him the Virgin Mary his wife. And when they were come thither, because the hostelries were
all taken up, they were constrained to be without in a common place where all people went.
And there was a stable for an ass that he brought with him, and for an ox. In that night
our Blessed Lady and Mother of God was delivered of our Blessed Saviour upon the hay that
lay in the rack. At which nativity our Lord shewed many marvels. For because that the
world was in so great peace, the Romans had done made a temple which was named the Temple
of Peace, in which they counselled with Apollo to know how long it should stand and
endure. Apollo answered to them that, it should stand as long till a maid had brought
forth and borne a child. And therefore they did do write on the portal of the Temple: Lo!
this is the temple of peace that ever shall endure. For they supposed well that a maid
might never bear Bethlehem, there may ye find him wrapt in clouts. And anon, as the angel
had said this, a areas multitude of angels appeared with him, and began to sing. Honour,
glory and health be to God on high, and in the earth peace to men of goodwill. Then said
the shepherds, let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing. And when they came they found
like as the angel had said. And it happed this night that all the sodomites that did sin
against nature were dead and extinct; for God hated so much this sin, that he might not
suffer that nature human, which he had taken, were delivered to so great shame. Whereof S.
Austin saith that, it lacked but little that God would not become man for that sin. In
this time Octavian made to cut and enlarge the ways and quitted the Romans of all the
debts that they owed to him. This feast of Nativity of our Lord is one of the greatest
feasts of all the year, and for to tell all the miracles that our Lord hath showed, it
should contain a whole book; but at this time I shall leave and pass over save one thing
that I have heard once preached of a worshipful doctor, that what person being in clean
life desire on this day a boon of God, as far as it is rightful and good for him, our Lord
at the reverence of this blessed high feast of his Nativity will grant it to him. Then let
us always make us in clean life at this feast that we may so please him, that after this
short life we may come unto his bliss. Amen.
The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine,
Archbishop of Genoa, 1275. First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William
Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900 (Reprinted 1922,
This chapter is from: Volume 1: Nativity
Scanned by Robert Blackmon. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
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© Paul Halsall, September 2000