Lives of the Saints

Hagiography is a science of no little importance to the student of literature, fine arts, and history, as well as to the religious scholar. For an excellent introduction to this field, Hippolyte Delehaye's Legends of the Saints (Notre Dame, IN, University of Notre Dame Press, 1966) should be consulted.

Father Delehaye was a member of the Society of Bollandists, a group of Belgian Jesuits organized in 1651 by Jean Bolland to gather, study, and publish source material on the lives of the saints in order to identify in them the purely legendary elements patently derived from local and ethnic mythologies. (See Delehaye's Work of the Bollandists through Three Centuries [A214]). After several false starts, the Acta sanctorum (A205), containing the texts of all the known lives of the saints whose feast days fall in January, was published along with critical commentary, variants, etc. The work won immediate scholarly acceptance and has continued, with many interruptions, until the present day.

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