The Life of Joseph of Arimathea


STC 14807
Ringler 14807 and TP 997. Ed. in W. Skeat, Joseph of Arimathie (London, 1871), EETS o.s. 44, pp. 35-52. UMI microfilm reel 69

Here begynneth the lyfe of Ioseph of Armathia
London: Richard Pynson,1520.

Composition Date: c. 1502 [Skeat].

sig: [A1]
¶Here begynneth the lyfe of Ioseph of Armathia.

sig: [A1v]
IHesu the royall ruby moost hye of renowne.
Rested in Mary þ e mayde / for her humylyte.
And fro þ e realme of rightwysnes / descended down.
To take the meke clothyng / of our humanyte.
5 The .v. welles of pyte to open. Adam restored he.
On the crosse and for vs shedde /his precyous blode.
There was the boke vnclapsed / of perfyte charyte vnclapsed: =unclasped
With Longis spere smyten / hangyng on the rode.

His precyous body / on the crosse beyng deed.
10 Sore it greued his dyscyples / euerychone.
And in the olde bokes as we rede
That amonge all other there was one
His hert was perysshed with very compassyon.
His name called Ioseph / the lorde of Aromathy
15 He went to pylate and full humbly desyred hym.
To haue the body of Ihesu / hym for to bury.

And pylate graunted hym / all his askyng.
Than ioseph retourned / with countenaunce demure.
And prayed Nycodymus / to go with hym.
20 For to take downe / our lordes precyous body.
So Ioseph layde Ihesu / to rest in his sepulture.
And wrapped his body / in a clothe called sendony. sendony: see OED s.v. sindon
Ryche was it wrought. with golde and sylke full pure.
Ioseph of a mayd it bought / in Aromathy cyte.

25 But yet whan Ioseph Ihesu downe toke.
The syde þ a t the wounde was on / lay to his brest.
The colde blode / that was at our lordes herte-rote
Fell within Iosephes sherte / and lay on his chest.
sig: A2
Truly as holy scripture sayth / there dyde it rest.
30 At the holy place / aboue his stomake.
And whan our lorde / in the sendony was drest.
Thys blode in two cruettes / Ioseph dyd take

The Iewes herd say / þ a t Ioseph Ihesu had buryed.
They thought þ a t Nycodemus and he shulde repent.
35 The[y] went to pylat and sayd they were greued. The[y]] The 1520
Ioseph and Nycodemus for them both they sent.
Than came they to pylat to knowe all his entente
and sayd they had buryed ihesu / as he gaue them leue.
I_wys sayd all the iewes / that there were present.
40 He shall curse ye tyme / that his body dyd remeue.

Why sayd Ioseph iesu was goddes owne sonne.
That ye bounde lyke a thefe / and hyng on the rode.
Also to þ e hert with a sharpe spere / ye hym stonge.
and with .iii. nayles made hym shede his giltles blode.
45 I wote well he neuer dyd yll / but euermore gode.
He made þ e blynde to se / and heled some of lepry.
He resed Lazarus / also / by his worde.
This is true sayd Ioseph / ye knowe as well as I.

The Iues put Ioseph / in a stronge prison of stone.
50 In that darke house / by hym-selfe he lay.
Lyght he coude not se / for wyndowe had it none.
The[y] locked the dore / and than went theyr way.The[y]] The 1520
Cayphas and Anna / of that kept the kay.
And sealed the dore / also / they thought to be sure
55 For Ioseph shulde dye / playnly dyd they say.
But pacyently all theyr truble / dyd he endure.

sig: [A2v]
Than Ihesu_Christ / at his resurrection.
To Ioseph apered / about hye mydnyght.
And rered all the foure corners / of that pryson.
60 The walles he susteyned / by his great myght.
Ioseph that / meruayled / seyng so great a lyght.
A full precious water / our lorde threwe in his face.
Before that hour / he sawe neuer so swete a syght.
Who is there sayd Ioseph / art thou Elyas.

65 Our lorde spake to Ioseph / and bad hym nat fere.
He sayd aryse and toke hym vp by the hande.
I am Ihesu / whom thou buryed in the sepulture.
If thou be / sayd Ioseph / that here doth stande.
Gyue me the rychest / treasour / of this lande.
70 The clothe that is called the Sendony.
Ihesu led hym to the sepulture / and there it fonde.
Holde ioseph sayd ihesu / þ e couerture of my body.

There ihesu bad ioseph to his owne place wende.
And sayd kepe thou thy house / dayes fully forty.
75 Farwell sayd our lorde. Ioseph my frende.
Where-euer thou becom / peace be with the.
I go to my disciples / that longe after me.
Ioseph wept for ioy / that was of yeres olde.
Saynge / o Ihesu worshypped may thou be.
80 For thy grace I haue spyed / is better than golde.

Ioseph kept his house as our lorde bad.
And on the morowe cayphace went to the pryson.
No-body he there founde than was he full sad.
Where is Ioseph sayd anne I trowe he be gon.
sig: A3
85 I marueyle he sayd the seales were hole eche one
And yet he out of the house is gone.
For wo they all wyst nat what to done.
Sayeng he that conuayed hym was a false felone

So worde they had that in Armathya cyte.
90 Ioseph was / than sent they to hym gretyng.
By theyr letters made full craftely
Him lowly prayeng that theyr writing
He [w]olde ouer-se and as [touchyng] any-thyng wolde] holde 1520; touchyng] 1520 omits, touchyng Skeat
That was done to hym they were wo therfore.
95 And prayed to Ioseph his louers he wolde bryng.
For they wolde be frendes with hym for euermore

This mater to shorten Ioseph thyder went.
And shewed them how theyr lorde delyuered hym
Out of the pryson suche grace god me sent.
100 Well sayd the Iewes we meruayle of one thyng.
How he gate out with all his connyng. Skeat: gate [thee] out
Ioseph sayd he lyfted the house fro the grounde.
They sayd by what crafte was it hanging
That it fell nat in sonder but stode styll sounde

105 Well sayd Ioseph this was a great wonder.
Whan the sharpe spere to his hart was pyght
To se great rockes and stones breke a_sonder.
The sonne darked and withdrewe his lyght.
The erthe trymbled by his great myght.
110 All these were maruaylous sayd Ioseph than.
Deed bodyes in theyr graues were sene with si[gh]t sight] sihgt 1520
Wherfore I dare say he is very god and man.

sig: [A3v]
Now here how Ioseph came into englande.
But at that tyme it was called brytayne.
115 Than .xv. yere with our lady as I vnderstande.
Ioseph wayted styll / to serue hyr he was fayne.
So after hyr assumpcyon the boke telleth playne.
With saynt Philyp he went into fraunce.
His sonne and his wyfe to serue god with payne.
120 Fayne for to folowe vertuous gouernaunce.

Ioseph had a sonne whose name was Iosephas
That our lorde a bysshop dyd consecrate.
A vertuous lyuer the boke sayth that he was.
Phylip bad them go to great_brytayn fortunate
125 So to the see they went of ioye seperate.
For of them there were .v.C. and mo.
In that company bothe erly and late
Taryeng for passage / togyder forto go.

A shyp they toke as I vnderstande.
130 And passed without peryll ouer the salt streme
Into the hauen they all aryued to lande
But yet of brytayne they fayled theyr course clene.
They fortuned to a countre of a tyraunt kene.
Called wales there was a kyng that tyme
135 They landed all as þ e boke telleth on an ester euyn
xxxi. yere after the passyon about the houre of nyne

Whan the kyng knewe that they dyd lande
He toke Ioseph and all his felowes truly.
And put them in pryson great and strong.
140 Than they all prayed to god almyghty.
sig: [A4]
And he herde theyr prayers lyghtly.
That they were delyuered in short space.
He thought his seruauntes sholde nat in peryl lye.
Than he sent them confort by his great grace.

145 Our lorde apered to a kyng in the west.
That named was Mordrayous in-dede
Bydding hym for to make hym prest
With all his myght in-to wales to spede.
Sayng there be my seruauntes that of helpe nede
150 Go thou theder and bere thy swerde in thy hande thy] they 1520
That proude kyng that me doth nat drede.
Thou shalt hym ouercome and all his lande.

Than the kyng after his vysion sene.
Thought in hast his deuer to do
155 So vp he rose in the mornyng.
All his lordes he called hym to.
He sayd in-to wales in-dede must I go.
Now thyder wyll I hye me with all my myght.
God to me appered and bad me do so.
160 A_gayne the prince of that countre for to fight

In all hast he dysposed his householde.
And to a lorde he toke the realme to gouerne.
To delyuer goddes seruauntes he sayd he wolde.
I knowe no maner man that shall me werne
165 In his iourney he hyed he thought not to turne
Tyll he came to the place there Ioseph was
Many a towne in wales dyd he burne
The prynce of that countre herd therof in space

sig: [A4v]
And to Mordrayous he sent a messangere
170 Prayng hym to come in with peace
He sayd this lande is poore therfore I hym fere
Besechyng his goodnesse this stryfe to sease
And I wyll hym gyue a lady perelesse
Myn owne doughter by name called Labell
175 Precyously arayed in cloth of rychesse
He bad the messangere all this vnto hym tell

Than went the messangere vnto Mordrayous
And sayd all as is before tolde
Syr kyng my lorde the prayeth to be gracious
180 Unto him and not so fyerse and bolde
And ye shall haue his doughter with plentie of golde
With all the prysoners that in his pryson be
Ioseph and his felowes both yong and olde
Than sayd Mordrayous he shall haue peace with me.

185 On a day these kynges togeder both dyd mete
Mordrayous toke Labell to his wyfe
Eche saluted other with wordes swete
And loued togyder the terme of theyr lyfe
For Mordrayous was doughty with swerd and knyfe
190 That all landes nere hym dyd dowt.
Ioseph was delyuered from daungeer blyfe blyfe: see OED s.v. belive
With his felawes all the hole rowt

Than hyther into brytayne Ioseph dyd come
And this was by kyng Aueragas dayes
195 So dyd Ioseph and also Iosephas his sonne
With many one mo as the olde boke says
sig: [A5]
This kynge was hethen and lyued on fals layes
And yet he gaue to Ioseph aulonye aulonye: =Avalon
Nowe called Glastenbury and ther he lyes
200 Somtyme it was a towne of famous a[n]tyquyte.

There Ioseph lyued with other hermyttes twelfe
That were the chyfe of all the company
But Ioseph was the chefe hym-selfe
There led they an holy lyfe and gostely
205 Tyll at the last Ihesu the mighty
He sent to Ioseph th'aungell gabryell
Which bad hym as the writyng doth specify
Of our ladyes assumpcyon to bylde a chapell

So Ioseph dyd as the aungell hym bad
210 And wrought there an ymage of our lady
For to serue hyr great deuocion he had
And that same ymage is yet at Glastenbury
In the same churche there ye may it se
For it was the fyrst as I vnderstande
215 That euer was sene in this countre
For Ioseph it made wyth his owne hande

The rode of northdore of london also dyd he make
Moche lyke as our lorde was on the rode done
For this Ioseph fro the crosse hym dyd take.
220 And loke howe a man may make by proporcion
A deed ymage lyke a quycke by cunnynge
So lyke the rode of northdore Iesu henge deed
For Ioseph made it nere semyng
Unto our lorde enclynynge his heed

sig: [A5v]
225 Than Ioseph there abode prechyng the fayth.
Tyll by the course of nature he dyed
Thus the olde boke recordeth and sayth
But in-dede his body at Glastenbury doth abyde.
Our lorde for hym well doth prouyde
230 Likely there to be sought with many a .M. .M.: =thousand
The name of Glastenbury wyll sprede full wyde
To men and women of many a straunge lande

By whose prayer god sheweth many myrakyll
Proued the .xviii. yere of henry our kyng
235 In doltyng parysshe there was sicke longe whyle
Two yonge women of the pestelence lamentyng
Which passed the cure of men in eche thynge
Theyr prayer makyng to ioseph of Aramathye
So began to recouer and brought theyr offryng
240 On Symone day and Iude vnto Glastenbury

And syth god there hath shewed many a myrakyl
I lacke tyme and season all to expresse
But yet all that do vysyte that holy habytakyll
It is euer lyke newe to them that call in distresse
245 Four C. yere ago / the boke bereth wytnes
So longe there hath rested that holy body
And nowe pleaseth it god of his goodnesse
Great myracles for hym to worke as ye may se

Many be there holpen through our lordes myght
250 A chylde of welles raysed fro deth without dout.
Lame ar there heled the blynde restored to sight
One that had the fransy to his wytte was brought
sig: [A6]
The vykary of welles that thyder had sought
On the tenth day that many men dyd se
255 Where .iiii. yere afore he stande nor go mought
Released he was of part of his infyrmyte

There is continuaunce of grace as it is shewed
On a woman of banwell þ e wyfe of Thomas_Roke
Whyche was tempted by the fende and greatly styred
260 With hyr husbandes knyues she cut hyr throte
And doutlesse as true men do report
She slewe hyrselfe so greuous was the wounde.
For wo hyr husband wyst not whether to resort
Whan he sawe hyr all blody and his own knife found.

265 This wofull man seynge his wyfe thus lye.
Whiche with his knyfe had done that wofull dede
Unto his neyghbours he cryed full pyteously
Hym for to helpe in that tyme of nede
The wounde to sewe fast he began to spede
270 Besechynge our lorde and holy Ioseph.
This woman to saue and so hertely prayed
That anone after she began to drawe brethe

And they yet say that the stytches brake
That the flesshe / closed and that was wonder
275 She was confessed / hoseled / eneled and spake
Therfore good men this in your myndes ponder
Yet lyueth and in the .ix. day of apryl came she thyder
And went before the honourable procession
The same knyfe she offred vp all blody there
280 Now thanked be god and Ioseph she is hole and sounde

sig: [A6v]
The .ix. day of Aprill Iohnn_Lyght gentylman
Dwellynge besyde Ilchester at lyghtes_care
His wyfe had vpon her a feuer quartayn
By the space of two yere vexed gretly
285 No medycyne nor phisyke þ a t coude do her remedy
[......................................] A line has dropped out here
And promysed thyder her offrynge deuoutly.
Than was she delyuered of her dysease certayne

The tenth daye of Apryll that was than sonday
290 A chylde was smyten with a plage all deed
And to euery mannes syght an houre so he lay
His moder hertely to sent Ioseph prayed
And bowed her offryng in her hert sore afrayed bowed: poss. emend to vowed
The chylde recouered and had his hele
295 And on saynt marke daye there they offred
Hole and sounde no herme dyde he fele

The .xv. day of Apryll one Robert_Browne
Of yeuell that at ylchester was prysoner
He was delyuered by proclamatyon
300 And went to gader his fees for the kepar
The prysoner about his legge had a fetter
He prayed ioseph to helpe him as he was not gilty
And sodenly the fetters sprange fro hym there
In myddes of þ e market-place of Glastenbury

305 Iohnn_Gyldon gentylman of port_melborne
The syde of his mouth was drawen to his eare
His lyft syde and his arme was benome
That he of his lyfe stode in great fere
Speke coude he nat nor hymselfe stere
sig: B1
310 He prayed to Ioseph promysyng his offryng
So of his sykenes he was delyuered clere
Saue onely of an hurte in his lefte arme

The .xx. day of apryll Iohnn_popes wyfe of comtone
Had a yong chylde that was taken sodenly
315 And so contynued and coude not be holpen
His moder prayed to god and Ioseph deuoutly
Her offrynge promysed than founde she remedy
The chylde recouered and had his lymmes at wyll
Lo ye well-dysposed people here may ye se
320 That there is nothynge to god impossyble

Yonge walter_sergaunt dwellynge in Pylton
His chylde in the pestylence was in Ieopardy
And sore panged that he myght not meue hym
So that to theyr syght he appered deed veryly
325 This wofull moder as the neyghbours testefy
Prayed to Ioseph and of the chylde the mesure
And promysed to do her offrynge truly
Than shortly after the chylde dyde recure

Also Alys wyfe to Walter_benet dwellyng in welles
330 Infect with the frenche pockes a yere and more
And doutlesse as her owne neyghbours telles
Her fete were so paynfull and sore
That go coude she not but as she was bore
Thyder was she brought in-to the chapell
335 Uerely she was heled and lefte her styltes thore
And on her fete wente home resonably well

sig: [B1v]
Iohnn_Abyngdons wyfe of welles had a sykenesse
Moost paynfull with a sore called a fistula
So long i[t] contynued that she laye spechelesse it] is 1520
340 And her lymbes dyde rotte truly they do say
So that with a knyfe the peces were cut away
At last she thought she had sene Ioseph in pycture
How he toke god fro the crosse and to hym dyde pray
Her for to hele and than began she to recure

345 All the myracles to shewe it were to longe
There is many mo full great þ a t I do not reherse
As pestylence purpyls and agonys strong
With megrymes also and men þ a t haue lyen specheles
And this I knowe well both in prose ryme and verse
350 Men loue nat to rede an ouer-longe thyng
Therfore I entende this mater to short and sease
I pray you all to marke well the endynge

Ye pylgrymes all gyue your attendaunce
Saynt ioseph there to serue with humble affectyon.
355 At Glastenbury for to do hym reuerence
Lyft vp your hertes with goostly deuocyon
Therwith conceyuyng this brefe compylacyon
Though it halte in meter of eloquence
All-thyng is sayd vnder correctyon
360 And wryten to do holy Ioseph reuerence

Ye lettred that wyll haue more intellygence
Of the fyrst foundacyon of Ioseph there
The olde bokes of Glastenbury shall you ensence
More plainly to vnderstande this forsayd matere
sig: B2
365 To you shall declare the hole cronycle clere
Wryten full truly with a notable processe
Make ye no doute nor be not in fere
As olde clerkes therof bereth wytnesse

Sothely Glastenbury is þ e holyest erth of england
370 Rede saynt Dauydes lyfe and there may ye se
That our lorde it halowed with his owne hande
For Dauyd by myracle proued it parde
Chryst made through his handes two holes truely
Than went Dauyd and his masse began
375 And after sakeryng the holes dyd shyt a sayd he
This church was halowed by a better than I am

Great meruaylles men may se at Glastenbury
One of a walnot tree that there dooth stande
In the holy grounde called the semetory
380 Harde by þ e place where kynge Arthur was founde
South fro Iosephs chapell it is walled in rounde
It bereth no leaues tyll the day of saynt Barnabe
And than that tree that standeth in the grounde
Spredeth his leaues as fayre as any other tree

385 Thre hawthornes also that groweth in werall
Do burge and bere grene leaues at Christmas
As fresshe as other in May whan þ e nightyngale
Wrestes out her notes musycall as pure as glas
Of all wodes and forestes she is þ e chefe chauntres
390 In wynter to synge yf it were her nature
In werall she myght haue a playne place
On those hawthornes to shewe her notes clere

sig: [B2v]
Lo lordes what Ihesu dooth in Ianuary
Whan the great colde cometh to grounde
395 He maketh the hauthorne to sprynge full fresshely
Where as it pleaseth hym his grace is founde
He may loose all-thing that is bounde
Thankes be gyuen to hym that in heuen sytteth
That floryssheth his werkes so on the grounde
400 And in Glastenbury. Quia mirabilia fecit.

¶A praysyng to Ioseph.

O Ioseph sanctificate is thy fyrst foundation
Thy parentycle may be praysed of vs all
Armony syng with hertely Iubylacyon
That causeth many sorowes fro theyr hertes fall
5 Of creatures dysconsolate that there for grace call
Lawdyng Ioseph with deuoute reuerence
As a principall place chosen of Christ moost speciall
There shal thei fynde confort of Christes magnificence

Hayle mighty gyaunt heuen and erth thou dyde bere
10 As bright as the mone tha[t] Illumyneth þ e nyght. that] than 1520
Moche stronger than Sampson that had no pere
Hayle floure fragrant [tha]t with thy great myght that] it 1520
Putteth fendes vnto flyght and euery yll ayre
From men that deuoutly do theyr dylygence
15 Here Ioseph to serue with offrynge or prayer
Shall fynde confort of our lordes magnyficence

Hayle Ioseph that bere the swete hony-combe
On good friday as holy scripture doth specyfie
In thyn earme þ u bere both the lyon and the lambe
sig: [B3]
20 God and man in one humanyte
In sepulture thou layd the myrrour of humylyte
Bryghter than lucyfer in his resplendence
After he had payed our raunsom and made vs fre
Of his great fauour grace and magnyfycence

25 Hayle myghty balynger charged with plenty
Thou hast cast anker in the hauen of aduentere.
O dentyous dyamonde þ e destroyer of yll desteny
As gay as euer was phebus in his golde spere
O noble Ioseph the tyme of grace draweth nere
30 Hayle myrre so precyous dystroynge al pestelence
O royall gem whome men shall seke full ferre
Here to haue confort of our lordes magnyfycence.

Heyle tresour of Glastenbury moost imperyall
In fauour smellynge swete as eglantyne
35 Now shall thy name flourysshe ouerall
Ihesu for thy sake the bell of mercy doth rynge.
Great cause hath Englande (Laus deo to synge
God and Ioseph to prayse with all our dylygence
That many men delyuereth out of mournynge
40 By our lordes fauour grace and magnyfycence

O noble Ioseph O ghostly phe[syc]yon phesycyon] phecysyon 1520
By the is cured many a malady
Nat vsynge pylles / dregges / ne pocyon
Ne other medecyne yet doost thou remedy
45 To pockes / pestylence / and also frency
And all maner of feuer we se experyence
Thou helest Iaundes / goutes and dropsyes
sig: [B3v]
By our lordes fauour grace and magnyfycence

Now holy Ioseph pray for vs to our lorde
50 To sende vs peas and perfyte charite
And amonge the comyns welth and concorde
And that our ryche men may vse lyberalyte
Whiche than shall [wende] towarde the deyte wende] 1520 omits, wende Skeat
Where aungelles to Ihesu do great reuerence
55 Unto the whiche god bryng bothe you and me
Of his fauour grace and magnyfycence.
Ioseph serue dei omnipotentis miserere mei malefactoris. Esto michi solamen in susp[i]riissuspiriis] susperiis 1520 continuum iuuamen in molestiis. Super id quod opto da remedium et tollator eo quicquid dessonum Ioseph discipule da in futuris agenda facere in non agendis vim hec resistere in virtuosis vitam terminare demum in celis tecum habitare.
Versus. Sancte ioseph christi discipule. Responsorium. Intercede pro nobis ad Iesum qui elegit te. Oremus.
DOmine iesu_christe cui omnis lingua confitetur respice in nos seruos tuos et placare precibus tui dilecti discipuli ioseph: vt ipso intercedente mereamur in presentia habere pe[cca]tipeccati] petisti 1520 remedium et in futuro tue visionis dulcedinem. Qui viuis. etc.
¶Responsorium. Serue dei ioseph sanctissime preces nostras clementer accipe morbos c[e]descedes] cades 1520 et pestes remoue. Et si meremur iam penas luere christem regem superne glorie non iratum sed blandum effice. Versus. Ut cum ceperit mundum discernere et in dextri[s]dextris] dextriri 1520 oues reponere. Non ira. Oratio.
sig: [B4]
OMnipotens sempiterne deus qui beatissimum ioseph famul[u]m tuum tribuisti vnigeniti filii tui corpus exanime de cruce deponere: eique iusta humanitatis officia [per]soluerepersoluere] prosoluere 1520 presta quesumus vt qui eius memoriam deuote recolimus consuete misericordie tue senciamus auxilium Per eundem dominum nostrum.
¶Imprinted at London in Fletestrete at the sygne of the George / by Richard_Pynson printer vnto the kinges noble grace Anno. domini. M.CCCCC.xx.
sig: [B4v]