ere followeth of Saint Pancrace, and first the interpretation of his name.
Pancrace is said of pan, that is as much to say as all, and gratus and citius, which is as much to say as courteous in his young age. Or otherwise, as it is said in the book called glossarium, pancras is said rapine, or pancras is, subject to beatings and torments. Pancrace is also said of divers colours; and so it appeared by him: he used rapine in ravishing by his exhortation the prey of caitiffs misbelieving, in bringing them to the faith. He was also subject to beatings and torments in suffering them, also in divers colours and full of all virtues.
Of Saint Pancrace.
Pancrace was of right noble lineage and was born of the country of Phrygia. When his father and mother were dead he was put to be governed in the hand of Denis his uncle, which was brother of his father, and they both came to Rome, where they had of their patrimony great rents. In their street the pope Cornelius held him privily, of which pope, Pancrace and Denis had received the christian faith. Finally Denis died in the country, and Pancrace was taken and presented to Cæsar. And then was Pancrace about fourteen years of age. To whom the emperor Diocletian said: My little child, I warn and counsel thee that thou advise thee well, to the end that thou die not an evil death, for as a child thou art lightly deceived; and because thou art noble of blood and of lineage, and son of one my right dear friend, I pray thee that thou leave this madness that thou hast emprised, and that I may have thee with me as my son. To whom Pancrace answered: If I be a child of body yet mine heart is old, and by the virtue of my lord Jesu Christ your threatening and menaces make me no more to move than doth the painting that I see upon the wall; and these gods that thou wouldest that I should worship be but deceivers of creatures and have been as germains in fornications made against God their creator, and have not spared kin ne other. And if thou hadst knowledge that thy servants were such, thou shouldst command that they should be slain, and I much marvel that ye adore such gods. When the emperor heard this child thus speak he doubted to be overcome of him, and commanded that his head should be smitten off, and so he was martyred about the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty-five, whose body a worshipful lady named Cocovilla, which was of the senate, with great diligence buried honorably. And of him said Gregory of Tours, doctor: That if there be a man that will make a false oath in the place of his sepulchre, tofore or he come to the chancel of the quire he shall be travailed with an evil spirit and out of his mind, or he shall fall on the pavement all dead.
It happed on a time that there was a great altercation between two men, and the judge wist not who had wrong. And for the jealousy of justice that he had, he brought them both unto the altar of Saint Peter for to swear, praying the apostle that he would declare who had right. And when he that had wrong had sworn and had none harm, the judge, that knew the malice of him, said all on high: This old Peter here is either over merciful or he is propitious to this young man, but let us go to Pancrace and demand we of him the truth; and when they came to the sepulchre, he that was culpable sware, and stretched forth his hand, but he might not withdraw his hand again to him, and anon after he died there, and therefore unto this day of much people it is used that for great and notable causes men make their oaths upon the relics of Saint Pancrace.