In the farthest boundaries of Germany toward the west-northwest, on the shore of the ocean itself, a cave is seen under a projecting rock, where for an unknown time seven men repose wrapped in a long sleep, not only their bodies, but also their clothes being so uninjured, that from this fact alone, that they last without decay through the course of so many years, they are held in veneration among those ignorant and barbarous peoples. These then, so far as regards their dress, are perceived to be Romans. When a certain man, stirred by cupidity, wanted to strip one of them, straightway his arms withered, as is said, and his punishment so frightened the others that no one dared touch them further. The future will show for what useful purpose Divine Providence keeps them through so long a period. Perhaps those nations are to be saved some time by the preaching of these men, since they cannot be deemed to be other than Christians.On the surface, this is simply one more telling of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus; but it has some peculiar features; to wit:
- The cave is placed in the Low Countries, not Ephesus in Anatolia.
- The Sleepers are "men," not "boys" or "young men."
- They are venerated by the "ignorant and barbarous" natives, rather than lying unknown and undisturbed until they awaken on their own.
- They do not awaken and marvel at how the world has changed.
- No origin is suggested, such as hiding from the persecution of Decius in the original Greek narrative.
- No end or purpose is suggested, only the supposition that there must be one.
- No shepherd wanders into the cave, but a greedy fellow who wants to strip them.
- The fellow suffers both arms withered.
Well, that's what it sounds like....