A225

Butler, Alban. The Lives of the Saints. Originally compiled by Alban Butler; now ed., rev, and supplemented by Herbert Thurston. London, Burns. Oates, and Washbourne, 1926-38. 12 v. LC 26-15085. (First published, 1756-59.)
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Certainly one of the oldest and most popular works in English in this field. The arrangement is the same as in the Acta sanctorum, from which, of course, most of the material was drawn. There is one volume for each month in this unabridged version, for which one may use Attwater's Dictionary of Saints (A217) as an alphabetical index. Butler's work was not intended to be scholarly although it does contain some critical commentary and bibliographical references; its main object "is to present a short but readable and trustworthy account of the principal saints who are either venerated liturgically (with a mass and office) in the Western Church or whose names are familiar to English-speaking Catholics" (Preface). The 1926-28 revision by Thurston, Leeson, and Attwater makes an even greater attempt at pointing up the legendary matter in the traditional lives and to indicate what facts can be verified through history or legitimate tradition. Homilies of a devotional nature are included. In English-speaking countries this has long been the standard work; America referred to it as a "classic for 200 years" (XCV [June 16, 1956], p. 288); and in the preface to his abridged version (A217), Attwater commented:
"This is a Herculean and scholarly work. Butler was not, as many were inclined to think, a credulous and uncritical writer, an epitome of those hagiographers whose object is apparently at all costs to be edifying. He is as critical a hagiographer as the state of knowledge and available materials of his age would allow."

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