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The name given to the branch of learning that has the saints and the worship of them for its object. Writings relating to the worship of the saints may be divided into two categories: (1) those that are the spontaneous product of circumstances or have been called into being by religious needs of one kind or another, and these belong to what may be called practical hagiography; (2) writings devoted to the scientific study of this material, and these constitute critical hagiography.

Practical Hagiography

The cult of the saints has given rise, in both the East and the West, to a very considerable number of documents, varying in form and in tenor with the author's object. In primitive times lists of martyrs were drawn up in particular churches with a view to the celebration of anniversaries; those lists became the nucleus of the martyrologies [see H. Delehaye, Cinq leçons sur la méthode hagiographique (Brussels 1934) ch. 3].

Martyrs and Heroes. Side by side with the martyrologies and calendars there are narratives of martyrdoms and biographies written by contemporaries in memory of the heroes whom the Church celebrates: e.g., in Greek, the Martyrdom of St. polycarp and the Life of St. anthony of egypt by St. Athanasius; in Latin, The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs, the Life of St. Augustine by Possidius, and the Life of St. Martin by Sulpicius Severus. There are accounts composed by writers who lived later than the events recorded and whose object was to edify the faithful or satisfy a pious curiosity. These hagiographers write either in prose, as the author of the Acts of St. cecilia, or in verse, as prudentius and many others. Finally there are texts composed or arranged for liturgical use from historical documents or from artificial compositions.

Hagiographic Collections. The various classes of hagiographic workshistorical memoirs, literary compositions, liturgical textsexisted at first as monographs, but soon the need was felt of gathering into a collection separate pieces of the same nature. The most ancient hagiographic collection of which mention is made is eusebius of caesarea's lost compilation of the Acts of the Ancient martyrs, containing the passions of martyrs previous to the persecution of diocletian. Out of this work, Eusebius wrote, in one volume, On the Martyrs of Palestine, the story of the last persecution in his own province. theodoret of cyr afterward compiled his Historia religiosa from a series of 30 monastic biographies that he had previously authored. Thus there are two types of collections, to one or other of which may be attributed all those to be mentioned hereaftera grouping of pieces from various origin under one title, and a series of narratives from the same pen.

Among the most famous collections of the early Middle Ages were the In Gloria Martyrum and In Gloria Confessorum of gregory of tours, the dialogues of St. gregory the great, De Vita et Miraculis Patrum Italicorum, the three books of eulogius of cÓrdoba (d.859) entitled Memoriale Sanctorum.

Legendaries. The order in these early collections was dictated by the historical setting of the particular subjectssaints' lives or passionsthat they incorporate; later there appear collections of a more artificial character in which the passions and the biographies of the saints follow each other according to the dates of their anniversaries in the calendar. In the West such collections are known as passionaries or legendaries. In time every region came to have its own; the Roman legendary constitutes a common foundation of all with individual additions determined by local cults. The legendaries usually consist of biographies and passiones of relatively great length.

Legenda Aurea. Beginning in the 13th century, collections of a more convenient size began to appear, containing the matter of the legendaries in a condensed form. Unquestionably the most famous of these is the Legenda aurea of the Dominican james of voragine, MSS of which were plentiful before printed copies became available. This work was translated during the Middle Ages into several modern languages. A large number of saints' lives in the vernacular, which are now of interest chiefly to students of philology, may be traced to Latin originals. The importance of this body of literature may be estimated by a perusal of Paul Meyer's memoir "Légendes hagiographiques en français," Histoire Littéraire de la France 33:328459; Bossuat 297322 and Supplement (1955) 7374; F. Wilhelm, Deutsche Legenden und Legendare (Leipzig 1907).

Other hagiographical compilations that date from the Middle Ages are also worthy of mention, even though they have not all enjoyed the same popularity. Such are the Sanctoral of bernard gui, Bishop of Lodève (d.1331), still unedited (see L. Delisle, Notices et Extraits 27.2, 1879); the legendary of the Dominican Pierre Calo (d. 1348), also unedited [see A. Poncelet, Analecta Bollandiana 29 (1910) 5116]; the Sanctilogium Angliae of John of Tynemouth (d. 1366), which became the Nova legenda Angliae of John Capgrave (1464), of which there is now a critical edition by C. Horstmann (Oxford 1901); the Sanctuarium of B. mombritius, printed at Milan before the year 1480, in two folio volumes, and especially precious because it reproduces the lives and the passions of the old MSS without reshaping or rehandling (new ed., Paris 1910); the great compilations of John Gielemans, a Brabantine canon regular (d. 1487), under the titles Sanctilogium and Hagiologium Brabantinum, Novale Sanctorum [see Analecta Bollandiana 14 (1895) 588]; and Hilarion of Milan's supplement to James of Voragine (Legendarium supplementum illius de Voragine, Milan 1494).

Lippomano and Surius. After the middle of the 16th century, the lives of the saints were collected by Luigi Lippomano, Bishop of Verona [Sanctorum priscorum patrum vitae (Venice-Rome 155160)], and later by the Carthusian Lawrence surius [De probatis sanctorum historiis (Cologne 157075)]; both collections were offered as edifying reading and at the same time as a polemic arsenal against the Protestants; they enjoyed a considerable reputation. Surius's Historae was several times reprinted. Pedro de ribadeneyra's Flos Sanctorum (1st ed. Madrid 1599) had a greater popular success and was translated into several languages. It was followed by a large number of lives of the saints for every day in the year.

Alban Butler. Among the most famous of these collections is Alban butler's Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, which first appeared in 1756 and was often reprinted (see the entirely new ed., 4 v. London 1956). Msgr. P. Guérin's Les petits Bollandistes is an uncritical collection that has nothing in common with the Acta sanctorum or with the publications of the Bollandists. Much better, at least from June on to December, are the Vies des saints et des bienheureux edited by the Benedictine Fathers of Paris (13 v. 193559). Initiated in 1961, the Bibliotheca Sanctorum forms a vast dictionary of the saints, written in Italian and aiming at serious documentation.

Most collections of lives of the saints, particularly those in modern languages, are inspired by the idea of interesting and edifying the reader, without great solicitude for historical truth. There are, finally, isolated biographies, the number of which grew incessantly during the Middle Ages and in later times and served to swell the collections.

Greek Menologies Among the Greeks, the development of hagiography was, at least outwardly, the same as among the Latins. The passions of the martyrs, biographies, and panegyrics of the saints were similarly collected, and were arranged in the order of the calendar, viz, in the menologies mentioned as early as the nineth century, and in the panegyrics. Most famous is the menology of Symeon Metaphrastes (tenth century), on which depend the imperial menologies of the 11th century and several later collections.

The Greeks, in addition, have their shorter menologies, composed of abridged lives. The synaxaries, the use of which is chiefly liturgical, are mainly compositions in which the more extended lives and passions are reduced to the form of brief notices (see H. Delehaye, Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, Acta Sanctorum Nov. Propylaeum, 1902). Neither is there any lack of collections in popular or modern Greek, for the saints' lives of Maximos Margunios, Agapios Landos, nicodemus the hagiorite, and others down to the Megas synaxaristes of C. Dukakis (14 v. Athens 188997) are widely read in Greek-speaking countries.

Slavonic and Oriental Hagiography. Closely connected with Greek hagiography is Slavonic hagiography. The reader is referred, for purposes of orientation, to I. Martinov, Annus ecclesiasticus graeco-slavicus in Acta Sanctorum Oct. 11, 1863 (repr. Brussels 1963), and the critical edition of the Russian Menaea of Macarius (18681914; publication interrupted).

The Orient has been the scene of an analogous development. Passions of the martyrs, lives of the saints, collections, and synaxaries are all found in the various Oriental languages; but in spite of the praiseworthy efforts of the specialists, there is still insufficient detailed information. Those desiring a summary account of the hagiography of the different peoples of those regions are referred, for the Armenian, to the Vitae et Passiones Sanctorum, published (2 v. 1874) by the mechitharists of Venice, the great Armenian Synaxary of Ter-Israel (tr. and ed. G. Bayan in the Patrologia orientalis, ed. R. Graffin and F. Nau [Paris 1903]) and the Acta Sanctorum pleniora of Aucher (12 v. Venice 181035); for the Coptic, to H. Hyvernat, Actes des martyrs de l'Égypte (Paris 1886), I. Balestri and H. Hyvernat, Acta martyrum in Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium (Paris Louvain 1903), Scriptores Coptici (190750), the Coptic Jacobite Synaxary (ed. I. Forget in Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, Scriptores Arabici, and R. BASSET in the Patrologia orientalis ); for the Ethiopian, to E. Pereira, Acta martyrum, and C. C. Rossini and B. Turajev, Vitae Sanctorum indigenarum, Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium, Scriptores Aethiopici, the Monumenta Aethiopiae hagiologica of Turajev, and I. Guidi et al., Ethiopian Synaxary in the Patrologia orientalis (Eng. tr. by E. A. W. Budge, 4 v. Cambridge 1928); for the Syriac, to S. E. Assemani, Acta martyrum Orientalium (2 v. Rome 1748) and P. Bedjan Acta martyrum et sanctorum (7 v. Leipzig 189097); for the Georgian, to G. Sabinin, Sakarthvelos Samothkhe (St. Petersburg 1832), and C. Kekelidze, Monumenta Hagiographica Georgica (2 v. Tiflis 191846); see also G. Garitte, Le Calendrier palestino-géorgien du Sinaiticus 34 (Brussels 1958). For fuller details, see the three repertories published by the Bollandists: Bibliotheca hagiographica latina (2 v. 18981901 and suppl. 1911); Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca (3d ed., 3 v. 1957); Bibliotheca hagiographica orientalis (1910).

Scientific Hagiography

Criticism of documents belonging to the categories enumerated above is called scientific hagiography. It involves two operations that are hardly separable: the study of written tradition for the purpose of establishing texts, and research into sources to determine the historical value of those texts.

Methodical Criticism. The earliest attempts at methodical hagiographic criticism date from the beginning of the 17th century. It is known that the Jesuit H. Rosweyde (d. 1629) first conceived the project of forming a collection of the Acta Sanctorum, which since 1643 has been put into execution by J. Bollandus and his collaborators (see bollandists) and which has for its essential aim the critical sifting and the publication of all the hagiographic texts that have come down to us relating to the saints venerated everywhere in the worldquotquot toto orbe coluntur.

Beginning with the first volumes, Bollandus and his colleagues submitted their documents to a criticism as severe as the means of information and the state of historical science permitted. With the development attained by all branches of science in the course of the 19th century, the importance of archeological discoveries in that period, the progress of philology and paleography, the possibility of using rapid communication and photocopy to obviate the difficulty of scattered material, hagiography could not but take a new orientation.

The Bollandists. Side by side with the compilation of the Acta Sanctorum, the Bollandists have been induced to undertake studies that, without modifying the spirit of their work, assure for it a broader and firmer basis and a more rigorous application of the principles of historical criticism. They have not been alone in their devotion to the science of hagiography as constituted since the inauguration of their work; J. mabillon, in Acta SS. O.S.B., T. ruinart, in Acta martyrum sincera, and S. E. Assemani, in Acta martyrum Orientalium, have furnished important supplements to the work.

Contemporary Hagiography. After the middle of the 19th century, a host of solid works made their appearance, furthering hagiographic science to a notable extent. Such are the fine editions of the lives of Merovingian and Carolingian saints in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berlin 1826), the Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae ed. C. Plummer (Oxford 1910), the numerous Greek texts brought to light by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus and other learned Hellenists in various countries, the recent publications of Oriental writers mentioned above, and a mass of labors in minute details that have often opened new paths for the science of criticism.

Of particular value are the researches of R. A. lipsius and M. Bonnet on the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles and the studies of P. franchi de' cavalieri on a selection of Acts of the Martyrs. The Bulletin des publications hagiographiques (of Analecta Bollandiana ) may fill in for the reader the gaps left by this rapid review. Progress has likewise been made in hagiographical criticism as applied to martyrologies, notably, by the edition and commentary of the so-called martyrology of st. jerome (Acta Sanctorum, Nov. 2, 2 parts, 1894 and 1931). The critical researches on historical martyrologies brilliantly inaugurated by the Bollandist Sollerius (Martyrologium Usuardi in Acta Sanctorum, June 67) have been enlarged and brought into line with modern criticism by H. quentin (Les martyrologes historiques, Paris 1908).

Science and Piety. As will be readily understood, the distinction established between practical and scientific hagiography is not always sharply defined. More than one attempt has been made to conciliate science and piety and to supply the latter with nourishment that has been passed through a sieve. The first collection of saints' lives conceived in this spirit is that of A. Baillet, Les vies des saints (Paris 1701), the first volumes of which (January 1 to August 31) were put upon the Index. A series of separate saints' lives, edited in France under the title Les Saints, was inspired by a similar idea of edifying the reader with biographies that should be irreproachable from the historical point of view. It is hardly necessary to add that more than one hagiographical publication of erudite and critical pretensions possesses no importance from a scientific point of view.

Twentieth Century. In the first half of the 20th century, hagiographical studies profited from the research accomplished in cognate disciplines, known as auxiliary sciences in history and philology. Epigraphy played a crucial part in H. delehaye's Les origines du culte des martyrs (1912; 2d ed. 1933); see also F. Halkin, "Inscriptions grecques relative à l'hagiographie," Analecta Bollandiana 19491953. In liturgy, V. Leroquais drew up inventories of Sacramentaries, Pontificals, Psalters, Breviaries, and Missals in MS, and the Henry Bradshaw Society in England as well as M. fÉrotin, F. cabrol,L. Mohlberg, etc., published editions of the ancient liturgical texts. M. Coens made a study of the ancient litanies in Recueil d'études bollandiennes (Brussels 1963).

In hymnology, U. Chevalier's monumental Repertorium hymnologicum (6 v. 18951921) and G. Dreves and C. Blume's Analecta hymnica (55 v. 18861922) are indispenable. In toponomy, the place name societies of England made precious contributions [see H. Delehaye, "Loca Sanctorum," Analecta Bollandiana (1930)]. Iconography likewise remained a constant interest of researchers and particularly of art historians in all lands and was well represented by K. Künstle, Ikonographie der Heiligen (1926), and G. Kaftal, Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting (Florence 1952). Finally for lipsanography, or the study of reliquaries, see H. Delehaye, Cinq leçons sur la méthode hagiographique, ch. 4.

Bibliography: r. aigrain, L'Hagiographie: Ses sources, ses méthodes, son histoire (Paris 1953). h. delehaye, The Legends of the Saints, tr. d. attwater (New York 1962); Les Passions des martyrs et les genres littéraires (Brussels 1921); Sanctus: Essai sur le culte des saints dans l'antiquité (Brussels 1927). a. ehrhard, Überlieferung und Bestand der hagiographischen und homiletischen Literatur der griechischen Kirche von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts, 3 v. (Texte und Untersucchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 5052; 193752).

[f. halkin]


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HAGIOGRAPHY. In the wake of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, when attitudes to the cult of saints provided one of the clearest boundaries marking the confessional divide for the people of early modern Europe, hagiographers were forced to refurbish and discipline their skills. However, the external spur of Protestant polemic (expressed most brilliantly and influentially perhaps in John Calvin's Traicté des reliques [Treatise on relics] of 1543) was not alone responsible for this development. Far more significant than even the humanist critique by Juan Luis Vives (14921540) and other medieval collections of saints' lives such as the Golden Legend (1265) was Roman Catholic liturgical reform. This principally took the form of an extensive pruning of the calendar of saints and lay at the center of the revision of service books such as the Roman Breviary (1568), the missal (1570), and the Roman Martyrology (1584). This was accompanied by extensive rewriting, in the spirit of concision and greater chronological precision, of the short Latin accounts of saints' deeds read out at matins and by the more centralized control of the cult of saints.

Supervised jointly by the two papal standing committees of cardinals, the Congregation of the Holy Office (founded 1542) and the Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies, the reform of sanctity centered on the tightening up of canonization procedure and the closely related imposition of a clear hierarchy of devotion between "saints," who could be universally venerated, and the "blessed," who were only permitted local or regional public veneration. Whereas central regulation had previously been focused primarily on universal cults, particular devotions were now also subject to careful control. This compelled local churches (and religious orders) throughout the Roman Catholic world to account for their cults and devotions.

They did so for the most part by adopting a polemical weapon that had initially been unsheathed by the Protestantshistory. The years 15521559 saw the publication of four major Protestant martyrologies by Ludwig Rabus, Jean Crespin, Adriaen van Haemstede, and John Foxe. All of them attempted to make sense of the persecution of their fellow coreligionists by inserting their experience in a firmly historical interpretative template. In the case of Foxe (15161587), his first English edition of the Actes and Monuments (1563) traced the contemporary Roman Catholic persecution of true believers back from the reign of "Bloody Mary"Queen Mary Tudor (ruled 15531558)to 1000 c.e.

Similarly, to evoke and justify the antiquity of their devotions, regional and local Catholic counterparts to Foxe and his colleagues deployed not just straightforward saints' lives but also the full range of historico-literary conventions, which contemporaries grouped together under the umbrella term historia sacra (sacred history). Written in both Latin and the vernacular, these included civic chronicle, episcopal calendar, collective biography, sacred drama (both spoken and sung), and topographical description as well as individual saints' lives (which not uncommonly appeared together with hagiographical readings from the relevant officethe religious service chanted or read by monks, nuns, and priestsby way of an appendix).

This renaissance in local or regional hagiography had its universal counterpart in the massive Jesuit initiative that is the ongoing Acta sanctorum (1643ff.; Deeds of the saints). The origins of this work lie with Héribert Rosweyde (15691629), in whose regional survey of holy men and women of his native Belgium (at that time ruled as the Southern Netherlands by the Spanish Habsburgs), the Fasti sanctorum quorum vitae in belgicis bibliotecis manuscriptae (1607; Deeds of saints whose manuscript lives are in Belgian libraries), he outlined his idea for what became the Acta sanctorum.

Proceeding according to the calendar year beginning on 1 January, the Acta sanctorum, under the direction of Jean de Bolland (15961665), sought to provide its users with the most authentic, philologically accurate (multiple) accounts of the lives of the saints treated (1,170 for January alone). Each account was prefaced by a historical commentary and followed by exhaustive explanatory notes. However, the very scale and learning of this project (fifty-three volumes from 1643 to 1794, providing coverage down to 14 October) should not detract from its utilitarian, down-to-earth purpose. Rosweyde sought to reassert the Roman Catholic identity of the southern provinces, which were then a "frontier" zone bordering the Calvinist northern provinces controlled by Holland, through the celebration of their saintly heritage. What he sought to achieve for Belgium in the Fasti, he hoped to achieve for the entire Christian world (including, by implication, those areas that had recently been lost to the Protestant heretics) in the Acta.

Robert Bellarmine (15421621), the leading Catholic controversialist of his age, criticized Rosweyde's plan on the grounds that the Acta, through their very comprehensiveness, would provide too many hostages to fortune for the benefit of Protestant polemicists. Bellarmine held up as models the more selective, if still substantial, saints' life collections by Luigi Lippomano (15001559) and Laurentius Surius (15221578). The former's eight-volume Sanctorum priscorum patrum vitae (15511560; Lives of ancient and holy fathers) provided the basis for the latter's even larger De probatis sanctorum historiis (15701573; Proven histories of the saints). Significantly, both authors had been intimately involved with combating Protestantism; Lippomano as papal nuncio to Germany (15481550) and Surius as a convert from Lutheranism. Each volume of Lippomano's work contained an index relating particular passages to Roman Catholic dogma, while Surius sought to reclaim for Roman Catholicism its monopoly on the miraculous. Accordingly, the 699 lives he collected included accounts of no fewer than 6,538 miracles.

The latest scholarship has clearly demonstrated the protean role played by hagiography in early modern Europe as a focus of local, regional, or national pride as well as of confessional distinctiveness and spiritual food. To do justice to the very variety of the cultural work it carried out, it is more helpful to consider hagiography as a cluster of related literary genres than as a single one. Similarly, during this (or any earlier or later) period, the writing of saints' lives is more easily defined by its content than its forms, which were as various as its uses. Rather than ask what it was, it is more helpful to ask what hagiography did in early modern Europe (and beyond).

See also Bellarmine, Robert ; Biography and Autobiography ; Martyrs and Martyrology ; Reformation, Catholic .


Cochrane, Eric W. Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance. Chicago, 1981. See especially Chapter 16, "Sacred History."

Ditchfield, Simon. Liturgy, Sanctity and History in Tridentine Italy. Cambridge, U.K., 1995.

Gregory, Brad S. Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, Mass., 1999.

Soergel, Philip M. Wondrous in His Saints: Counter-Reformation Propaganda in Bavaria. Berkeley, 1993.

Simon Ditchfield


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Although hagiographies, embellished accounts of biblical worthies, are not unknown in previous ages, particularly in the apocrypha (e.g., Lives of the *Prophets and Martyrdom of *Isaiah), in the Middle Ages they developed as a specific genre of literature, of which they constitute a major type (see *Fiction, Hebrew). These may be divided into two main categories according to the protagonist portrayed: (a) hagiographies whose heroes are ancient Jewish sages and martyrs (biblical and talmudic characters); (b) hagiographies whose heroes are medieval scholars, rabbis, and martyrs.

Different fields of medieval literature have adapted the hagiography to their specific needs. Ethical literature used it to exhort in the footsteps of the hero (see *Exemplum); Hebrew historical writings usually substituted the hagiography for the biography of medieval and ancient Jewish scholars. Medieval collections of Hebrew stories abound with hagiographic material; while in kabbalistic and ḥasidic literature, the hagiography was a formal literary device to convince the reader of the veracity of the Jewish mystics' visions.

Use of Biblical and Talmudic Material

Biblical and talmudic stories were freely adapted. In *Midrash Va-Yissa'u (in A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 3 (19382), 1–5), a narrative about Jacob and his sons, the characters are portrayed as medieval knights who fight over Shechem and other cities, in the same way as the Crusaders had fought in the capture of a city. Abraham and Moses were also subjects of individual works, embellished by hagiographic additions. So were the lives of talmudic sages; the medieval Midrash Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer, for instance, opens with a hagiographic account of *Eliezer b. Hyrkanus. One of the most typical examples of medieval hagiography is the story of the *Ten Martyrs, known also as Midrash Elleh Ezkerah (ed. by A. Jellinek, 1853). Some of the material is drawn from talmudic sources, but most of its treatment is within the framework of medieval themes and literary conventions. It is an account of the tortures inflicted by the Romans on 10 martyrs, most of them tannaim (the 10 martyrs had not been contemporaries and could not have been executed together); the story also inspired the composition of prayers and piyyutim, and became the cornerstone of Hebrew medieval martyrologic hagiography.

Use of Contemporary Stories and Personages

Hagiography of the Middle Ages which centered around medieval characters contains historical and biographical details, as well as fiction. Some of the legends included are entirely original, while others thematically belong to international hagiographic motifs. The miracle associated with Rashi when still in his mother's womb (that a wall opened to let his pregnant mother hide from a group of soldiers) is told about many other sages, and has nothing whatsoever to do with Rashi's personality or biography. Sometimes the heroes of such legends are purely fictional, and the hagiography thus is not even related to a historical personality.

The development of the hagiography in the Middle Ages is perhaps best exemplified by the evolvement of cycles of hagiographies centered around the leaders of the Ḥasidei Askhenaz: *Samuel he-Ḥasid, R. *Judah he-Ḥasid, his son, and *Eleazar ben Judah of Worms. The earliest known versions were found (in manuscript) and published by N. *Bruell (Jahrbuecher fuer Juedische Geschichte und Literatur, 9 (1889), 1–71). Different versions are extant in many later Hebrew and Yiddish collections. There are no hagiographies about these rabbis from their own time (12th and 13th centuries); the stories begin to appear in the 14th and 15th centuries. However, many of the hagiographies from these cycles point to the fact that the elaborate narrative about one of these rabbis sprang from a much simpler story that was told and written by that writer himself. In the simple narrative, the hero's name is not mentioned nor did he see himself as the hero. In one of his theological works, R. Judah he-Ḥasid has a five-line story about a rabbi who miraculously discovered some clothes that had been stolen from one of his pupils. A hagiography written in the 15th century, about R. Judah, contains a long and well-developed legend about the rabbi's discovery of a treasure which had been entrusted to a Jew and stolen from him, thus endangering the lives of a whole Jewish community. The core of the narrative is the same, but the plot was elaborated upon, many details were added, and the anonymous hero became R. Judah he-Ḥasid himself. Short descriptions, such as the one by R. Judah he-Ḥasid in Ḥasidei Ashkenaz literature of sorcerers and demons, were later expanded into hagiographies describing contests between the pietist sages and gentile sorcerers in the working of miracles and sorcery. While these early theological works receded into oblivion, the stories to which they gave birth survived and evolved into the fully developed genre of hagiography.

ibn ezra and other spanish jewish scholars

One of the most prominent heroes of medieval Hebrew hagiography was R. Abraham *Ibn Ezra. Nothing in his actual biography justifies the stories told about him, except that he was a traveler, and visited many countries in the East and in the West. Abraham ibn Ezra became the "traveling hero" of a cycle of hagiographic legends. Disguised so that nobody would recognize him, in a dramatic moment he would reveal his true identity. In these tales, Ibn Ezra pokes fun at proud rich men, helps Jews in danger, and is the hero of both popular jokes and tragic legends. Ibn Ezra was a hero of fiction up to modern times, and in the 19th century, stories describing his miraculous adventures were still being printed.

Other Spanish Jewish scholars also became central figures of hagiographies. The beginnings of the Jewish center of learning in Spain were described by Abraham *Ibn Daud in his Seder ha-Kabbalah by means of the hagiographical story "The Four Captives." *Judah Halevi's pilgrimage to Jerusalem was the focus of a cycle of hagiographical stories; and this most rationalistic of Spanish Jewish scholars did not escape legends which told about his later adherence to the Kabbalah.

martyrologic hagiography

The martyrologic hagiography developed especially in Germany during the Crusades of the 11th–13th centuries. Thousands of Jewish martyrs became subjects of legends. The best known revolves about R. *Amnon, the alleged author of the prayer *U-Netanneh Tokef. Many other martyrs were described in a similar hagiographic manner in collections of historical writings and stories.

hagiography and kabbalah

The most powerful creative force of Jewish hagiography in the Middle Ages was the Kabbalah. Kabbalists of the 12th and 13th centuries told legends about their teachers and mystical mentors. The first kabbalistic scholar in Provence, head of a school of kabbalists, Rabbi *Isaac Sagi Nahor ("the blind"), was described by his disciples as capable of distinguishing between a "new" and an "old" soul, i.e., between persons whose souls had entered the human form for the first time and souls that had transmigrated from previous existences (see *Gilgul). In Spain, there were kabbalists who wove wonderful tales about the mystics of Germany. R. Isaac ha-Kohen of Segovia (the second half of the 13th century) told about the powers of Eleazar of Worms who, according to him, traveled on a cloud whenever he had an urgent trip to make.

the zohar and later kabbalistic writings

The Zohar is full of hagiographic references to R. *Simeon b. Yoḥai, his son *Eleazar, and his disciples. Their wondrous deeds are incorporated into the homiletics that make up the whole work. When R. Simeon b. Yoḥai studied, for example, birds stopped flying all around, fire encircled him, and wonderful events happened to people in his vicinity. Among the many miracles attributed to him and his disciples by the author of the Zohar, some are founded solely on myth, e.g., the legends about his contradicting God's will and his prevalence, or his fight with the powers of darkness, the Sitra Aḥra ("The Other Side," i.e., Satan). The Zohar influenced later kabbalistic writings in which the same approach toward the mystics is adopted. Two anonymous 14th-century Spanish works, Sefer ha-Kaneh (Prague, 1610) and Sefer ha-Peli'ah (Korets, 1784), have for their central characters members of the family of the tanna R. *Neḥuna b. ha-Kaneh. A whole set of hagiographical stories is woven around each member of the family. Many of these stories describe a meeting of the heroes with heavenly powers.

The deterioration of the situation of the Jews in Spain (at the end of the 14th and during the 15th century) gave birth to a new kind of hagiography, also associated with the Kabbalah: stories about sages who had attempted to hasten the redemption in one way or the other. Some of these include much historical data, like the stories about the martyr Solomon *Molcho; others are purely fictional, like the story about *Joseph Della Reina, who almost succeeded in overcoming and enslaving Satan and *Lilith, but at the last moment, failed and became enslaved by them instead. From this period onward, Jewish hagiography is mostly concerned with messianic expectations and activity.

isaac luria and other sages of safed

The hagiographic cycle of stories about Isaac *Luria, who lived in Safed in the years 1570–72, were the first to be compiled into a book. His disciples preserved and wrote legends describing his superhuman powers. There are two main versions of the cycle of stories about him: Shivḥei ha-Ari, a collection of letters written by R. Solomon Shlumil of Dreznitz, who described not only Luria, but other sages in Safed, and a later work, *Toledot ha-Ari which was dedicated to Luria almost exclusively. It includes more than 50 stories. Some of them describe mostly his supernatural knowledge, his ability to know the past and the future, what was happening at great distances and in heaven, and his power to read the thoughts and the hearts of other people. The other stories, which seem to be later additions to the original cycle, describe miracles which he was said to have performed. Even when taking into consideration these later additions, the dominant hagiographic motif in these cycles is the supernatural knowledge of Luria, and not the miracles he performed. Luria's greatest pupil, R. Ḥayyim *Vital, unlike his teacher, did not leave it to later generations to write and to compile the hagiographic stories about him. He did it himself. He kept a diary which was published under the title Sefer ha-Ḥezyonot (1866) and previously, in a shorter version, as Shivḥei Rav Ḥayyim Vital (1826). Like his teacher Luria, Vital also had messianic aspirations. Basing himself on the conjurations of witches, sorcerers, his own visionary dreams and his teacher's sayings, he saw himself destined for great deeds. Luria and Vital are also connected with the first famous version of "The Dibbuk" story (told in different versions in Sefer ha-Ḥezyonot and in Shivḥei Rav Ḥayyim Vital). The theme of the *dibbuk later became one of the standard motifs in Jewish hagiography: the ability to drive out evil powers or strange souls which had taken hold of a human body.

The stories about the great sages of Safed spread throughout the Jewish world. Their development varied in form and according to geographic locales. In the east, hagiographic cycles had for their central figures especially R. Ḥayyim Joseph David *Azulai and R. Ḥayyim b. Moses *Attar; in the west and in Eastern Europe R. *Judah b. Bezalel Loew and R. Joel Ba'al Shem became the heroes of such legends. In the 18th and 19th centuries up to the beginning of the 20th century hagiographic stories about sages of later ages (after Luria) were still being collected and published.

Modern Jewish Hagiography

Modern Jewish hagiography is connected with the ḥasidic movement which began in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 18th century. With the publication of Shivḥei ha-Besht (Berdichev, 1815) the genre was brought to its highest artistic expression. The book is a compilation of hagiographic stories about the founder of the ḥasidic movement and his disciples, collected from manuscripts. The stories, written both in Hebrew and in Yiddish (since the 16th century, Yiddish being the main medium of expression for hagiographic stories in Eastern Europe), had circulated among the Ḥasidim since the *Baal Shem Tov's death in 1760.

Later ḥasidic leaders and their followers used the Shivḥei ha-Besht as a model for the writing of hagiographic stories about later ḥasidic sages. Consequently, there are hagiographic collections about almost every major ḥasidic rabbi, even those who lived in the early 20th century. The stories in these compilations are often about several sages and may be arranged according to a main theme, e.g., The Revelation of the Ẓaddikim, a collection of stories about the ways in which the greatness of the ḥasidic sages was revealed (see, e.g., S. Gavriel, Hitgallut ha-Ẓaddikim (1905)).

Side by side with the development of ḥasidic hagiography, another kind of hagiography came into being. These were hagiographies about the *Lamed-Vav Ẓaddikim, the thirty-six anonymous and mysterious holy men, because of whose humble manner, just deeds, and virtue the world continues to exist. Many of the motifs of this cycle of legends are taken from older tales and hagiographies. Together with the ḥasidic stories, they take Hebrew hagiography into the 20th century.


J. Meitlis, Das Ma'assebuch (1933); idem, in: Di Goldene Keyt, 23 (1955), 218–234; G. Scholem, in: Tarbiz, 6 (1935), no. 2, 90–98; idem, Judaica (Ger., 1963), 216–25; Mishnat ha-Zohar, ed. by F. Lachover and J. Tishby, 1 (19572), introd.

[Joseph Dan]


views updated May 18 2018


The composition of hagiography (saints' lives) in Ireland begins with three major works that date from the mid- to the late seventh century, when the three major monastic foundations of Kildare, Armagh, and Iona had firmly established themselves and were expanding their territories and influence. The first is the Vita Sanctae Brigidae (Life of Saint Brigit of Kildare) by a monk whose name is given as Cogitosus. Cogitosus's life of Brigit dates from about 650 c.e. and has long been considered the earliest hagiographical work in Hiberno-Latin. Another life of Brigit, the anonymous Vita Prima Sanctae Brigidae (First life of Saint Brigit, so called because it is the first of Brigit's biographies recorded in the Acta Sanctorum Bollandiana—the major collection of saints' lives first compiled by the Société des Bollandistes in Belgium in the seventeenth century), also has a claim for early composition, and there is a continuing debate over which of these two is the earlier. The relationship between these two lives has yet to be resolved, and while both seem to draw upon similar sources, their composition is different. Cogitosus's biography offers only a very brief summary of Brigit's birth, parentage, and early career in a conventional hagiographical manner and concentrates instead on a series of miracle stories (including the well-known story of how the saint hung her wet cloak on a sunbeam), leading to a lengthy description of Brigit's church and monastery. Cogitosus's aim seems to be the promotion of the monastic community as much as that of its founder and patron; the miracle stories underline Brigit's sanctity and divine power while the great size, wealth, and political and religious importance of her community are emphasized. The Vita Prima, on the other hand, offers a more lengthy series of miracle stories and anecdotes, including the famous birth tale in which Brigit is the daughter of a nobleman and a slavewoman, whom he sells at his wife's insistence. The woman is bought first by a poet, then by a druid; the child is born on the threshold of the dairy at dawn and washed in new milk. Both versions mix biblical references and scripturally based miracles with folkloric material.

The work of Cogitosus was followed shortly by that of Muirchú, a monk of Armagh, who composed a life of Saint Patrick around 680 c.e. In his preface he refers to the hagiographical work of his "father" Cogitosus (no doubt meaning his spiritual father) and aims in his composition to do as Cogitosus did for his patron and founder. Muirchú's work contains more biographical material than does Cogitosus's and details Patrick's early life and mission to Ireland; however, much of it is based on legend rather than history, although he clearly used some historical sources, including Patrick's own Confessio (Confession). Nevertheless, Muirchú's life of Patrick became the basis for subsequent lives of Patrick. A contemporary document by a bishop, Tiréchan, provides further hagiographical material but is a collection of memoranda concerning Patrick and a list of his foundations rather than any kind of biography.

The third great hagiographical work of the seventh century is the life of Columba (Colum Cille) by Adomnán, ninth abbot of Iona, written between 685 and 689 c.e. Adomnán's life of Columba represents Irish hagiographical writing at its finest; his work shows not only biblical influence but the influence of major continental writers, such as Sulpicius Severus and Gregory the Great, in both his hagiographical form and Latin style. While Adomnán incorporated both written sources and the oral tradition of Saint Columba in his life, much of the work also documents the history and constitution of the Irish church in its early days. The life is divided into three parts: The first part tells of Columba's life and career, the second of his miracles and prophecies, and the third of angelic visions. Despite the legendary and folkloric material, Columba emerges in this life less as a magical figure and more as an historical personage. Like Muirchú's life of Saint Patrick, Adomnán's life of Columba became the basis for subsequent biographies of the saint in both Latin and Irish, culminating in the massive Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Colum Cille) compiled under the direction of the Donegal chieftain Manus O'Donnell in 1532. The works of Cogitosus, Muirchú, and Adomnán also reflect their respective communities' concerns with promoting the cults of their founders and establishing their territorial rights, thereby increasing their influence and income. Armagh and Kildare, both episcopal sees, rivaled one other for preeminence in the Irish church; Armagh and its founder saint, Patrick, eventually gained ascendance.

The Irish church witnessed an expansion of monastic communities in the seventh and eighth centuries that led to an increase in hagiographical composition. This was aided in part by a renewal of asceticism and a spiritual reform led by a new order who called themselves céli Dé (culdees) or "companions of God," centered at the monastery of Tallaght. The lives of saints from this period emphasize the saints' ascetic practices and virtues of self-denial, individual prayer, and meditation; the life of the anchorite, alone in his cell with only God's creation for company, is valorized, as is the saint's spiritual guidance. Irish hagiographers often ascribed to their subjects a strong empathy with the natural world and its creatures; the saints of the sixth and seventh centuries had shown this affinity with nature and wild animals, and this characteristic continued in the hagiography of the reform period, finding also new expression in the religious poetry of the time. Devotion to the saints was also an important ideal in this movement, and two major martyrologies, the Martyrology of Tallaght and the Martyrology of Oengus, are associated with the céli Dé.

During the eighth and ninth centuries more hagiographical texts began to appear in the vernacular, including the Old Irish life of Brigit (Bethu Brigte), which dates from the late eighth to early ninth centuries, and the Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick (Vita Tripartita) of the late ninth century, which represents the last major Patrician text of the Irish church. The Tripartite Life marks another change in the characteristics of Irish hagiography—it exhibits a strong concern with the rights and property of Patrick's church rather than with spiritual teaching. The lives of the saints from this period onward follow suit in showing such interest in their saints' churches, and the miracle stories become more fantastic and flamboyant to demonstrate the power of the saint, who appears much the same as a saga hero.

The majority of the lives written in the vernacular are in Middle Irish; many are direct translations from Latin originals and date from around and after the twelfth century. But dating is notoriously difficult, since the manuscript versions of the lives of the saints, in both Latin and Irish, cannot be dated with confidence before the late twelfth century. This is partly owing to the incursions of the Vikings in the late eighth to the tenth centuries, but also to the ravages of later eras. From the sixth century Irish monks had traveled to Europe as pilgrims and missionaries, and a few, such as Saint Columbanus in the late sixth to early seventh centuries, founded several monasteries in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Many Irish monks fled to these continental Irish monasteries in the wake of the Vikings, taking their manuscripts with them. Irish hagiographical writing continued, however, both in Ireland and in Europe—the Navigatio Sancti Brendani (Voyage of Saint Brendan), one of the most widely read works of the Middle Ages, was composed on the continent around the tenth century, probably by an Irish monk in exile, and was later translated into several vernacular languages.

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the Irish church moved closer to conformity with the continental church and participated in the reform movement that was associated with the Benedictine abbey at Cluny. This paved the way for new orders, such as the Cistercians, to enter Ireland. One of the main leaders of this movement in Ireland was Máel-Máedóc Úa Morgair, or Saint Malachy; an account of his life was composed after his death in 1148 by his friend, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Although the great heyday of Irish saints and Irish hagiography had passed, the lives of the saints remained an important part of Irish history and identity. As the Normans became increasingly absorbed into Irish society and culture, Irish literature and learning rebounded. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the major collections of saints' lives—the Codex Insulensis, the Codex Salmanticensis, and the Codex Kilkenniensis—were compiled. The Book of Lismore, a private collection made for Finghín MacCarthaigh Riabhach (MacCarthy Reagh) and his wife Catherine, containing lives in Irish, was compiled in the late fifteenth century.

The English conquest in the sixteenth century, however, halted further hagiographical production. The traditional historians of Ireland tried to continue the task of preserving and copying existing manuscripts, while Irishmen hoping to join the priesthood had to journey to Europe for their training. In the early seventeenth century the Irish ecclesiastics on the continent, alarmed that their national history was threatened with extinction, began to collect and publish Irish manuscripts; the main proponents were Henry FitzSimon (c. 1566–c. 1645), Luke Wadding (1588–1657), Peter Lombard (c. 1555–1625), and Stephen White (1574–1646). At the College of Saint Anthony in Louvain, a group under the leadership of Hugh Ward (1590–1635), encouraged by Luke Wadding and assisted by Stephen White, undertook a major plan for a Thesaurus Antiquitatem Hibernicarum (Thesaurus of Irish antiquities). The first object was to collect at Louvain as many Irish historical sources as possible, including hagiographical sources, both from Europe and from Ireland. This task was discharged by John Colgan (1592–1658), Patrick Fleming (1599–1631), and Michael O'Clery (d. 1645). The mission of collecting and copying in Ireland all the manuscripts in Irish pertaining to religious history fell to O'Clery, who between 1626 and 1642 assembled and transcribed a prodigious number of manuscripts, many of which contained hagiographical material. The third volume of the whole design, published at Louvain in 1645, contains the lives of Irish saints whose festivals fall within January, February, and March; the second volume, published in 1647, contains documents pertaining to Saints Patrick, Brigit, and Columba. Both were edited by Colgan. Another collection of lives in Irish was copied by Domnall Ó Dineen in 1627, possibly for the Irish scholars at Louvain, though it remained in Ireland.

From the collections of Irish material made by these scholars and from the great Latin collections, most of the modern editions of Irish hagiography were made. The O'Clery collections now reside in the Bibliothèque royale in Brussels. Several manuscripts that remained in Ireland found their way into the collections of antiquarians, such as Sir James Ware (1594–1666) and Sir Robert Cotton (1570–1631), and from thence went eventually to the British Library and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford (including the great codices under the Rawlinson collection). Other manuscript sources reside in the libraries of Trinity College, Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy. The study of Irish hagiography has gained added impetus not only from modern editions but from advances in the study of the language and history of early Ireland; a large body of scholarship has appeared in recent years, making these texts accessible to the modern reader and returning them to their rightful place in Irish literary and religious history.

SEE ALSO Early Medieval Ireland and Christianity; Hiberno-Latin Culture; Monasticism in the Early Middle Ages; Religion: The Coming of Christianity; Saint Patrick, Problem of; Primary Documents: From Muirchú's Life of St. Patrick (c. 680)


Anderson, A. O., and M. O. Anderson, eds. and trans. Adomnán's Life of Columba. 1961. Reprint, 1991.

Bray, Dorothy Ann. A List of Motifs in the Lives of the Early Irish Saints. 1992.

Connolly, Seán. "Vita Prima Sanctae Brigidae." Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 119 (1989): 5–49.

Connolly, Seán, and Jean-Michel Picard. "Cogitosus: Life of St. Brigit." Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 117 (1987): 5–27.

Heist, W. W. Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae. 1965.

Herbert, Máire. Iona, Kells, and Derry: The History and Hagiography of the Monastic Familia of Columba. 1988.

Howlett, D. R., ed. and trans. The Book of Letters of Saint Patrick the Bishop. 1994.

Hughes, Kathleen. The Church in Early Irish Society. 1966.

Hughes, Kathleen. Early Christian Ireland: An Introduction to the Sources. 1972.

Kenney, J. F. The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical. 1929. Reprint, 1979.

Ó hAodha, Donncha, ed. and trans. Bethu Brigte. 1978.

Plummer, Charles, ed. and trans. Bethada Náem nÉrenn: Lives of Irish Saints. 2 vols. 1922. Reprint, 1968.

Plummer, Charles, ed. Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae. 2 vols. 1910. Reprint, 1968.

Sharpe, Richard. Medieval Irish Saints' Lives. 1991.

Sharpe, Richard, trans. Adomnán of Iona: Life of St. Columba. 1995.

Dorothy Ann Bray


views updated Jun 11 2018


Various types of narratives with documentary and commemorative functions for the Orthodox Church are also regarded as important literary works in the medieval Russian canon. Sacred biographies (vitae ) were written about persons who had followed Christ's example in life and shown evidence of powers after death to intercede for believers, attributes that qualified them for sainthood. A short summary of the saint's life was read initially at the ceremonial inauguration of the feast day and thereafter to honor the saint's memory. Longer vitae circulated in religious anthologies of devotional readings. Eulogistic biographies of rulers, initially written for the funeral service, were recorded in chronicles, then revised for hagiographical anthologies. Tales from the Patericon record episodes from the lives of holy monks, their teachings, or the history of a monastic community. The vitae also include extended accounts of miracles worked by icons, some of which are viewed as local or national symbols, as well as tales of individual miracles.

When the Kievans converted to Christianity during the reign of Vladimir I (d. 1015), they received Greek Orthodox protocols for the recognition and veneration of saints, as well as a corpus of hagiographical texts. Beginning in the eleventh century, Kievan monks produced their own records of native saints. Veneration for the appanage princes Boris and Gleb, murdered in the internecine struggles following the death of their father Vladimir, inspired three extended lives that are regarded as literary classics. Also influential was the life of Theodosius (d. 1074), who became a monk and helped to found the renowned Kiev Cave Monastery. His biography, together with stories of the monastery's miraculous founding and of its monks, was anthologized in the Kiev Cave Monastery Patericon. The earliest hagiographical works from the city-state of Novgorod, surviving in thirteenth-century copies, focus on the bishops and abbots of important cloisters. Lives of Suzdalian saints, such as the Rostov bishops Leontius, Isaiah, and Ignatius, and the holy monk Abraham, preserve collective memories of clerics who converted the people of the area to Christianity.

In the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, Russian monks fled the cities, moving into wilderness areas to live as hermits, then founded monasteries to house their disciples. The writings produced in these monastery scriptoria promoted asceticism as the highest model to which a Christian could aspire. Biographies of saints were supplemented with long prefaces, prayers, laments, and digressive praises employing the poetic imagery and complex syntactic structures characteristic of hymnography. An introductory commonplace, declaring the writer's wish to write an account that will be a fitting crown or garland of praise for the saint, has inspired some scholars to group these lives into a hagiographical school whose trademark is "word-weaving" (pletenie sloves ). The most prominent writers of this school include Metropolitan Cyprian (c. 13301406), identified by some as a Bulgarian and others as a Serb, who wrote a revised life of the holy Metropolitan Peter in 1381; Epiphanius the Wise (second half of the fourteenth century to the first quarter of the fifteenth century), author of the first life of St. Sergius of Radonezh and St. Stephen of Perm (1390s); and Pachomius the Logothete, an Athonian monk sometimes identified as a Serb, who was commissioned to rewrite the lives of widely venerated holy men from Novgorod, Moscow, and leading monasteries between 1429 and 1484.

Sixteenth-century Muscovite hagiographers composed expansive narratives celebrating saints and icons viewed as protectors of the Russian tsardom. The most influential promoter of the Muscovite school was Macarius. While serving as archbishop of Novgorod (15371542), Macarius ordered the collection of saints' lives and icon legends, as well as other translated and original religious texts, for a twelve-volume anthology known as the Great Menology (Velikie Minei Chetii ). The first "Sophia" version was donated to the Novgorod Cathedral of Holy Wisdom in 1541. During his tenure as metropolitan of Moscow (15421563), Macarius commissioned additional lives of saints who were recognized as national patrons at the Church Councils of 1547 and 1549, for a second expanded version of this anthology, which he donated to the Kremlin Cathedral of the Dormition in 1552. A third fair copy was prepared between 1550 and 1554 for presentation to Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Between 1556 and 1563, expanded sacred biographies of Kievan rulers Olga and Vladimir I, appanage princes and princesses and four Moscow metropolitans, as well as an ornate narrative about the miracles of the nationally venerated icon Our Lady of Vladimir, were composed for Macarius's Book of Degrees. These lives stressed the unity of the Russian metropolitan see and the theme that the line of Moscow princes had prospered because they followed the guidance of the Church.

In the seventeenth century, two twelve-volume hagiographical anthologies were produced by clerics affiliated with the Trinity-Sergius Monastery: the Trinity monk German Tulupov and the priest Ioann Milyutin. Their still unpublished menologies preserve lives of native Russian saints and legends of local wonder-working icons not included in earlier collections. In 1684 the Kiev Cave Monastery monk Dmitry (Daniel Savvich Tuptalo), who would be consecrated metropolitan of Rostov and Yaroslavl in 1702, began to research Muscovite, Western, and Greek hagiographical sources. Dmitry's goal was to retell the lives of saints and legends of wonder-working icons in a form accessible to a broad audience of Orthodox readers. The first version of his reading menology was printed in 1705 at the Kiev Cave Monastery. In 1759, a corrected edition printed in Moscow became the authorized collection of hagiography for the Russian Orthodox Church. Also noteworthy as sources on the spirituality of the seventeenth century are the lives of Old Believer martyrs (Archpriest Avvakum, burned as a heretic on April 1, 1682, and Lady Theodosia Morozova who died in prison on November 2, 1675) and the life of the charitable lay-woman Yulianya Osorina, written by her son Kallistrat, district elder (gubnaya starosta ) of Murom between 1610 and 1640.

See also: kievan caves patericon; orthodoxy; russian orthodox church; saints


Bosley, Richard. (1997). "The Changing Profile of the Liturgical Calendar in Muscovy's Formative Years." In Culture and Identity in Muscovy: 13591584, eds. A. M. Kleimola and G. D. Lenhoff. Moscow: ITZGarant.

Ebbinghaus, Andreas. (1997). "Reception and Ideology in the Literature of Muscovite Rus." In Culture and Identity in Muscovy: 13591584, eds. A. M. Kleimola and G. D. Lenhoff. Moscow: ITZ-Garant.

Fennell, John. (1995). A History of the Russian Church to 1448. New York: Longman.

Hollingsworth, Paul, tr. and ed. (1992). The Hagiography of Kievan Rus'. Harvard Library of Early Ukrainian Literature II. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lenhoff, Gail D. (1997). Early Russian Hagiography: The Lives of Prince Fedor the Black (Slavistiche Veröffentlichungen 82). Berlin-Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Prestel, David K. (1992). "Biblical Typology in the Kievan Caves Patericon." The Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union 4:97-102. Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press.

Gail Lenhoff


views updated May 29 2018

hag·i·og·ra·phy / ˌhagēˈägrəfē; ˌhāgē-/ • n. the writing of the lives of saints. ∎ derog. adulatory writing about another person. ∎  a biography idealizing its subject.DERIVATIVES: hag·i·o·graph·ic / ˌhagēəˈgrafik; ˌhāgēə-/ adj.hag·i·o·graph·i·cal / ˌhagēəˈgrafəkəl; ˌhāgēə- / adj.


views updated Jun 08 2018

hag·i·og·ra·pher / ˌhagēˈägrəfər; ˌhāgē-/ • n. 1. a writer of the lives of the saints. ∎ derog. a person who writes in an adulatory way about someone else, esp. in a biography.2. Theol. a writer of any of the Hagiographa.


views updated May 18 2018

Hagiography. The writing of the lives of Christian saints (hence a derogatory sense, ‘full of praise for, without sufficient criticism of, the subject’).


views updated May 29 2018

hagiography the writing of the lives of saints; a biography idealizing its subject. The word comes ultimately from Greek hagios ‘holy, saintly’.