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Curiosities of Church Registers

During a review of the death registers from the Banska Bystrica (Slovakia) Roman Catholic Parish for the period 1780-1841, Gil Kubancsek found a very unusual sketch accompanied by prose, all written in Latin.  The pages shown below were the very first pages in the death register.  We have never seen anything quite like this in a church book from this time period before.  Through a couple of different venues, Gil obtained an English-language translation of the passages.

While we are now satisfied with what it says, we remain puzzled over why such a piece would be found in a church book.   If you have any information to help us put this into a historical context, it would be greatly appreciated.  Any knowledge of city, social, government or church events which may have precipitated such a piece, would be greatly appreciated.  Please drop a note to:   Clicking on each page below will generate a larger image.


“Principium vitae dolor est, dolor exitus ingens et medium dolor est; vivere quis cupiat?  Vae mihi nascenti, vae nato, vae morienti. Quid superest tibi de vita temporali in aeterna?  Merita; vel demerita; Illa coronam, haec faciunt supplicium; utrumque sine fine.  Fuge secundum; pro primo labora. Caelum favebit conantibus”


1. The beginning of life is pain, the end huge pain and the middle is pain; who would want to Iive? Woe to me as I am born, woe [to me] after I'm born, woe [to me] as I'm dying. What is left to you from temporal life into eternity? Merits; demerits; the former make a crown, the latter make punishment, both without end. Flee the second; work for the first. Heaven will support those who try.


2. The beginning of life is pain, and there is great pain at its ending. And in-between there is pain; Who would want to live? Woe is me that I was born; woe that [contraction]; woe is me in my dying. In eternity, what remains of your life within time? Your good deeds and your evil ones. Your good deeds form your crown, or your evil deeds make for unending torture. Flee from the latter, for your first (or main) effort is to strive for heaven through your efforts.




Mitra, corona, pedum, galea, Mavortia quaeque femina, vir, Iuvenis, rustice, pauper, AVE”


1. Miter, crown, shepherd's crook, helmet, Martial, to each woman, man, youth, countryman, poor man, HAIL

2. Miters, crowns, shepherd's crook, helmets, everything to do with Mars (i.e., warfare), Woman, man, young man, hick, pauper, HELLO.

3. The sketch of the grim reaper and text suggests: “Death conquers everyone, no matter what their occupation or status is – women, men, the learned, farmers, the poor or rich, and those serving in high places in the church”.




Traveler, Stop

While you, so windy with arrogant pride,

Rise, as in Lebanon there rises the continual odor of cedars,

And you believe nothing can shake you or make you dizzy;

Alone, or from the mouth of the wind of death, you will fall.

With Death triumphant in splendor Temporality will be victorious;

The laurelled head shall be struck down by a lightning bolt of yew.

Raise for buildings the columns which support the paneled ceilings;

Strong Death will still seize you from there with her hand.

Surround yourself with the battle lines of Kalibia, and [contraction] with their camps.

Death will strike you suddenly down with her sickle, and mow down all your defenses.

In short, whatever your accomplishments; however much you shine with honors,

Death will cover you up with his sudden and savage foot.

Therefore do not trust in these good deeds,

in which precarious blindness, cruel mutability takes us and seizes us for God.


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Last Update: 15 November 2020                                                    Copyright © 2003-2021, Bill Tarkulich