Hagiography: Definition and Its Examples

Hagiography: Definition and Its Examples

Hagiography: Definition and Its Examples :  A hagiography is a biography of a saint or an ecclesiastical leader, and by extension, an adulatory and idealized biography of a founder, saint, monk, nun, bishops, princes, or virgins; and accounts of miracles connected with saints’ tombs, relics, icons, or statues. or icon in any of the world’s religions. It sometimes includes martyrology, lives of the martyrs.

Hagiography: Definition and Its Examples

Originally written and collected by monks in the early and medieval churches, such collections of lives were also made of post Reformation saints, for example, Puritans and Quakers. Hagiographies have been written from the 2nd century AD to instruct and edify readers and glorify the saints

Examples of Hagiographies are Eusebius of Caesarea’s account of the martyrs of Palestine (4th century AD) and Pope Gregory I the Great’s Dialogues, a collection of stories about Saint Benedict and other 6th-century Latin monks. Perhaps the most important hagiographic collection is the Legenda aurea (Golden Legend) of Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century. Modern critical hagiography began in 17th-century Flanders with the Jesuit ecclesiastic Jean Bolland and his successors, who became known as Bollandists.

Hagiography Examples

There are two main groups of such works: the literary and the liturgical.

Notable examples of the literary are: Eusebius of Caesarea’s record of the martyrs of Palestine (4th c.); Theodoret’s account of the monks of Syria (5th c.); Gregory the Great’s of the monks of Italy (6th c.); the Byzantine Menology (12th c.) – the menology being a sort of calendar of the Greek Church which incorporates biographies of the saints; the Chronicle of Nestor (c. 1113), written by a priest of that name and known as the primary Russian Chronicle; the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine (13th c.).

Liturgical sources are documents, very often calendars, which record information about devotion paid to saints. These were local as well as universal calendars; also known as martyrologies. Well-known examples were compiled by Hieronymian (6th c.), Bede (8th c.), Adon, and Usuard (9th c.). There was also the Roman Martyrology of the late 16th c.

To these instances, one should add the Acta Sanctorum, a series of lives of the saints arranged in order of their feasts in the ecclesiastical year. This was begun by the Bollandists, a body of Belgian Jesuits (named after John Bolland, a Flemish Jesuit), in the 17th c. The first volume appeared in 1643, and the last of the original series in 1786. There is also the Acta Sanctorum Ordinis Sancti Benedicti, a history of the saints of the Benedictine Order, published between 1668 and 1701.

A curiosity in this genre in English literature is John Foxe’s Actes and Monuments (popularly known as The Book of Martyrs), first published in Latin in 1559 and in English in 1563. This vast work (about twice the length of Edward Gibbon‘s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) was a history of the Christian Church but contains detailed accounts of many martyrs, particularly the Protestant martyrs of Queen Mary’s reign.

 Read it also:  After the first death there is no other

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