The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints - January, February, March
by Alban Butler
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{000} {Transcriber's notes:

1) Page numbers in the main text have been retained in {braces}. Page breaks within long footnotes are not marked.

2) The original of this work is printed very badly. In most cases, the original text is obvious and has been restored without any special notations in the transcription. In those cases where it was not possible to determine the original text with much certainty (usually numbers and rare proper nouns which cannot be deduced from context) a pair of braces {} indicates where the illegible text was. Sometimes the braces contains text {like this}, indicating a possible but not certain reconstruction.

3) The original had both numbered footnotes, used for references, and footnotes with symbols, used for extended comments. This transcription does not preserve that distinction; all the notes have been numbered or renumbered as needed.

4) In a few cases, footnotes appear on the bottom of the page that do not appear in the text (presumably because of the poor printing noted above). In this case, the footnote is marked in the text at a likely location, and the footnote begins {Footnote not in text} to indicate that this was done.}

{006} ARCHBISHOP'S HOUSE, 452 MADISON AVENUE. Imprimatur {Michael Augustinus Archeispo Neo} June 28th, 1895.


NOTWITHSTANDING that several editions of Butler's Lives of the Saints have been issued from the American press, and circulated extensively throughout the United States, yet the publishers of the present one are led to believe that there are vast numbers of persons still unsupplied, and desirous of possessing a work so replete with instruction and edification for Christian families. This edition is reprinted from the best London edition, without the omission of a single line or citation from the original. To render the work as complete as possible, we have added the Lives of St. Alphonsus Liguori, and other Saints canonized since the death of the venerable author, and not included in any former edition. This edition also contains the complete notes of the author, which have been shamefully omitted in an edition published by a Protestant firm of this city.

The present edition is illustrated with fine steel engravings of many of the Saints, and when bound will form four very handsome volumes, uniform with the Life of Christ, and the Life of the Blessed Virgin.


NEW YORK, Sept., 1895.



"THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS" is republished. This work—this inestimable work, is at length given to the public. Hitherto the circulation of it was confined to those who could afford to purchase it in TWELVE volumes, and at a proportionate price. It is now stereotyped, printed in good character, on fine paper, and published at a price not only below its value, but below the hopes of the publisher. It is therefore now, and for the first time, that "THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS" are, properly speaking, given to the public.

And what is the nature and character of this work, which is thus placed within the reach of almost every family in Ireland? We presume to say, that "The Lives of the Saints" is an historical supplement to the Old and New Testaments; an illustration of all that God has revealed, and of all the sanctity which his divine grace has produced among the children of men. It is a history, not so much of men, as of all ages and nations; of their manners, customs, laws, usages, and creeds. It is a succinct, but most accurate and satisfactory account of all that the Church of God has done or suffered in this world from the creation to almost our own days: an account not extracted from authentic records only, but one which exhibits at every page the living examples, the speaking proofs, of whatever it sets forth or asserts. As drawings taken by an artist, and afterwards carved on plates of steel or copper, present to us views of a country, or of the productions of the earth and sea, so "The Lives of the Saints" exhibit to the reader images the most perfect of whatever the human race, in times past, has yielded to God in return for his countless mercies.

But "The Lives of the Saints" are not confined to history, though they embrace whatever is most valuable in history, whether sacred, ecclesiastical, or profane. No! This work extends farther; it presents to the reader a mass of general information, digested and arranged with an ability and a candor never surpassed. Here, no art, no science, is left unnoticed. Chronology, criticism, eloquence, painting, sculpture, architecture—in a word, whatever has occupied or distinguished man in {008} times of barbarism or of civilization; in peace or in war; in the countries which surround us, or in those which are far remote; in these later ages, or in times over which centuries upon centuries have revolved; all, all of these are treated of, not flippantly nor ostentatiously, but with a sobriety and solidity peculiar to the writer of this work.

But there is one quality which may be said to characterize "The Lives of the Saints." It is this: that here the doctrines of the Catholic Church are presented to us passing through the ordeal of time unchanged and unchangeable, while her discipline is seen to vary from age to age; like as a city fixed and immoveable, but whose walls, ramparts, and outworks, undergo, from one period to another, the necessary changes, alterations, or repairs. Here are pointed out the persecutions which the Saints endured,—persecutions which patience overcame, which the power of God subdued. Here are traced the causes of dissension in the Church; the schisms and heresies which arose; the errors which the pride and passions of bad men gave birth to; the obstinacy of the wicked,—the seduction of the innocent,—the labors and sufferings of the just; the conflicts which took place between light and darkness,—between truth and error; the triumph, at one time of the city of God, at another, the temporary exaltation of the empire of Satan. In this work, we see the great and powerful leaders of God's people, the pastors and doctors of the Church, displaying lights gives them from heaven, and exercising a courage all-divine; while crowds of the elect are presented to us in every age retiring from the world, hiding their lives with Christ in God, and deserving, by their innocence and sanctity, to be received into heaven until Christ, who was their life, will again appear, when they also will appear along with him in glory. Here we behold the Apostles, and their successors in the several ages, calling out to the nations who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, "Arise, thou who sleep eat, and Christ will enlighten thee!"—men of God, and gifted with his power, who, by preaching peace, enduring wrongs, and pardoning injuries, subdued the power of tyrants, stopped the mouths of lions, upturned paganism, demolished idols, planted everywhere the standard of the cross, and left to us the whole world illuminated by the rays of divine truth. Here is seen the meek martyr who possessed his soul in patience,—who, having suffered the two of goods, the loss of kindred, the lose of fame, bowed down his head beneath the axe, and sealed, by the plentiful effusion of his blood, the testimony which he bore to virtue and to truth. Here the youthful virgin, robed in innocence and sanctity, clothed with the visible protection of God, is seen at one time to yield up her frame, unfit, as yet, for torments, to the power of the executioner; while her spirit, ascending {009} like the smoke of incense, passed from earth to heaven. At another time we behold her conducted, as it were, into the wilderness by the Spirit; where, having left the house of her father, the allurements of the world, and the endearments of life, she dedicates her whole being to the service of God, and to the contemplation of those invisible goods which he has reserved for those who love him.

In "The Lives of the Saints" we behold the prince and the peasant, the warrior and the sage, the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the peasant and the mechanic, the shepherd and the statesman, the wife and the widow, the prelate, the priest, and the recluse,—men and women of every class, and age, and degree, and condition, and country, sanctified by the grace of God, exhibiting to the faithful reader models for his imitation, and saying to him, in a voice which he cannot fail to understand, "Go thou and do likewise."

It is on this account we have ventured to designate "The Lives of the Saints" an historical supplement to the Old and New Testaments. We think this work deserves to be so considered, on account of the close resemblance it bears to the historical portions of holy writ. Let the divine economy, in this respect, be for a moment the subject of the reader's consideration.

When God was pleased to instruct men unto righteousness, he did so, as the whole series of revelation proves, by raising up from among the fallen children of Adam men and women of superior virtue,—men and women whose lives, like shining lights, could direct in the ways of peace and justice the footsteps of those who looked towards them. He did more: he caused the lives of those his servants whom he sanctified and almost glorified in this world, to be recorded by their followers; and his own Spirit did not disdain to inspire the men who executed a work so salutary to mankind. From Adam to Noe, from Noe to Abraham, from Abraham to the days of Christ, what period is not marked by the life of some eminent saint; and what portion of the Old Testament has always been and still is most interesting to true believers? Is it not that which instructs us as to the life and manners of those patriarchs, prophets, and other holy persons of whom we ourselves are, according to the promise, the seed and the descendants? The innocence of Abel, the cruel deed of Cain, the piety of Seth, the fidelity and industry of Noe, furnish to us the finest moral instruction derived from the primeval times. The life of Abraham is perhaps the most precious record in the Old Testament! Who even now can read it, and not repose with more devotion on the providence of God? Who can contrast his life and conduct with that of all the sages of paganism, and not confess there is a God; yea! a God who not only upholds this {010} world, and fills every creature in it with his benediction, but who also conducts by a special providence all those who put their trust in him,—a God who teaches his elect, by the unction of his Spirit, truths inaccessible to the wise of this world; and who makes them, by his grace, to practise a degree of virtue to which human nature unassisted is totally unable to attain? The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, is exceedingly glorified by the virtues of those great men; and that glory is exalted, and we are led to adore it, because the lives of those men have been written for our instruction. Is not Moses the keystone, as it were, of the Jewish covenant? Are they not his trials, his meekness, his attachment to God and to God's people, his incessant toils, and patience, and long-suffering, even more than the miracles wrought by his interposition, which render the law published by him, and the ministry established by him, worthy of all acceptation in our eyes? Who can contemplate the rejection of Saul, and the election of David,—the wisdom of Solomon in early life, and his utter abandonment in his latter days,—and not be stricken with a salutary dread of the inscrutable judgments of a just God? Who can read the life of Judith, and not wonder?—of Susanna, and not love chastity and confide in God? Who has read the prophecies of Isaiah, and not believed the gospel which he foretold? And what example of a suffering Saviour so full, so perfect, and expressive, as that exhibited in the life of Jeremiah? If thus, then, from the beginning to the day of Christ, the Spirit of God instructed mankind in truth and virtue, by writing for their instruction "the Lives of the Saints," what can better agree with the ways of that God, than to continue the record—to prolong the narrative? If this mode of instruction has been adopted by the master, should it not be continued by the servant?—if employed when the people of God were only one family, should it not be resorted to when all nations were enrolled with that people? if this mode of instruction was found useful when the knowledge of the Lord was confined to one province, should it not be preserved when that knowledge covered the whole earth even as the waters cover the sea? And is it not therefore with justice we have said that "The Lives of the Saints" might not improperly be designated "an historical supplement to the Old and New Testaments?"

And in good truth, who can peruse the life of Peter, and not be animated with a more lively faith? Who can read of the conversion of Paul, of his zeal and labor, and unbounded love,—who can enter with him into the depths of those mysterious truths which he has revealed, and contemplate along with him the riches of the glory of the grace of God, and not esteem this world as dung; or experience some throes of those heavenly desires, which urged him so pathetically to exclaim, "I {011} wish to be dissolved, and to be with Christ?" Who can read the life of the evangelist John, and not feel the impulse of that subdued spirit, of that meek and humble charity, which so eminently distinguished him as the "beloved disciple of the Lord?" And if we advance through the several ages that have elapsed since our Saviour ascended into heaven, we shall find each and all of them instructing us by examples of the most heroic virtue. The age of the martyrs ended, only to make room for that of the doctors and ascetics; so that each succeeding generation of the children of God presents to us the active and contemplative life equally fruitful in works of sanctification. An Athanasius, a Jerom, a Chrysostom, or an Augustin, are scarcely more precious as models in the house of God, than an Anthony, a Benedict, an Arseneus, or a Paul. Nor has the Almighty limited his gifts, or confined the mode of instruction to those primitive times when the blood of the Mediator was as yet warm upon the earth, and the believers in him filled more abundantly with the first-fruits of the Spirit. No; he has extended his grace to every age! Only take up the history of those holy persons, men and women, whose lives shed a lustre upon the Church within these last few centuries, and you will acknowledge that the arm of the Lord is not shortened, and, to use the words of the Psalmist, that "Sanctity becometh the house of the Lord unto length of days," or to the end of time.

As therefore it hath pleased God to raise up for our help and edification so many and so perfect models of Christian perfection, and disposed by his all wise providence that their lives should have been written for our instruction, we should not be faithful co-operators with the grace given to us, if we did not use our best efforts to learn and to imitate what our Father in heaven has designed for our use.

But "The Lives of the Saints" are a history, not so much of men, as of all ages and nations,—of their manners, customs, laws, usages, and creeds. And in this licentious age, an age of corrupted literature, when that worldly wisdom or vain philosophy which God has declared to be folly, is again revived; in this age, when history has failed to represent the truth, and is only written for base lucre's sake, or to serve a sect or party, what can be so desirable to a Christian community, as to have placed in their hands a sincere and dispassionate account of the nations which surround us, and of the laws and manners and usages, whether civil or religious, which have passed, or are passing into the abyss of time? If the wisdom of God warns us "to train up youth in the way in which they should walk," and promises that "even when old they will not depart from it," there is no duty more sacred, or more imperative or parents and pastors, than to remove from their reach such {012} books as are irreligious, immoral, or untrue, and to place in their hands such works only as may serve to train their minds and affections to the knowledge of truth and to the love of virtue.

History is, of its nature, pleasing and instructive; it leaves after it the most lasting impressions; and when youth, as at present, is almost universally taught to read, and works of fiction or lying histories placed constantly in their way, is it not obvious that every parent and every pastor should be careful not only to exclude from their flocks and families such impious productions, but also to provide the youth committed to their care with works of an opposite description? But we make bold to say, that in no work now extant can there be found condensed so vast a quantity of historical information as is contained in "THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS:" nor is it the store of knowledge here amassed which renders the work, as a history, of so much value; but it is the judicious arrangement, the undoubted candor, the dispassionate judgment of men, manners, and things, which the venerable historian everywhere displays.

He has been able to trace events to their true causes; to point out the influence of religion upon human policy, and of that policy on the Church of God; to exhibit the rise and fall of states and empires,—the advancement or declension of knowledge,—the state of barbarism or civilization which prevailed in the several countries of the world,—the laws, the manners, the institutions, which arose, were changed, improved, or deteriorated, in the kingdoms and empires which brought forth the elect of God in every age: but in his narration there is always found to prevail a spirit, wanted in almost every history written in our times—a spirit which assigns to the power and providence of God the first place in the conduct of human events, and which makes manifest to the unbiased reader the great and fundamental truth of the Christian Religion, that "all things work together to the good of those who, according to the purpose or design of God, are called to be Saints."

The great characteristic, however, of this work, and that which, perhaps, in these times and in this country, constitutes its chief excellence, is, that it exhibits to the reader the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church,—the former always the same, "yesterday, to-day, and forever"—the latter receiving impressions from abroad, and moulding itself to the places, times, and circumstances, in which the Church herself was placed. In other works may be found arguments and proofs in support of the dogmas of faith and the doctrines of the Catholic Church, set forth in due order and becoming force; but such works are of a controversial nature, and not always suited to the taste or capacity of every class of readers: not so "The Lives of the Saints." This work presents to us the religion of Christ as it was first planted, as it grew {013} up, and flourished, and covered with its shade all tribes, and tongues, and peoples, and nations. The trunk of this mighty tree is placed before our eyes, standing in the midst of time, with ages and empires revolving about it, its roots binding and embracing the earth, its top touching the heavens, its branches strong and healthful—bearing foliage and fruits in abundance. But to drop this allegory. "The Lives of the Saints" demonstrate the doctrines of the Church, by laying before us the history of the most precious portion of her children: of her martyrs, her doctors, her bishops; of holy and devout persons of all ranks and conditions; of what they believed, and taught, and practised, in each and every age: so that if no Gospel had been written, or liturgy preserved, or decree recorded, we should find in "The Lives of the Saints" sufficient proofs of what has always, and in every place, and by all true believers, been held and practised to the Church of God.

In this work there is no cavilling about texts, no disputes about jurisdiction, no sophisms to delude, no imputations to irritate, no contradictions to confound the reader; but in place of all these there is found in it a simple detail of the truths professed, and of the virtues practised by men and women, who were not only the hearers of the law but the doers thereof. Whosoever seeks for wisdom as men seek for gold, will find it in the perusal of "The Lives of the Saints:" for here not theory or speculation, but living examples, make truth manifest, and exhibit at once and together all the marks of the Church of God in the life and conduct of her children. These children will all be found to have denied themselves, to have taken up the cross, to have followed Christ, and to have convinced the world by their sanctity that they were the children of God—that they were perfect even as their heavenly Father was perfect. These children of the Church will be found a Catholic or universal people, collected from all ages and nations, offering the same sacrifice, administering or receiving the same sacraments, and yielding to the same authority a reasonable obedience. Finally, there will be found included in this great family the Apostles and their disciples, and the descendants of those disciples,—faithful men keeping the deposit of the faith, or transmitting it to others through all the vicissitudes to which this world is a prey, even to that hour when the dead will arise and come to judgment. Thus it is that "The Lives of the Saints" put to silence the gainsayers, and convince, not by argument, but by historical and incontrovertible details of facts and of the lives of men, that the Church of God is one, that she is holy, that she, though universal, is not divided, that she is built upon the Apostles, as upon an immoveable {014} foundation, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. This work strips schism of her mask, and stops the mouth of heresy. It points out, with an evidence not to be impeached, the day of separation,—when schism commenced, and the hour of revolt and rebellion, when the heretic said, like Lucifer, in the pride of his heart, "I WILL NOT SERVE." If ever there was a work which rendered almost visible and tangible to the sight and touch of men that promise of the Redeemer to his Church, "And the gates of hell shall not prevail against her," surely this work is "THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS."

Who, therefore, is a Catholic, and would not possess such a treasure? How great is the benefit derived to the public from the low price and convenient form in which this work is given to them! If infidelity, and immorality, and heresy have opened wide their mouths, and are everywhere devouring their victims, is it not a blessing from God that the children of the Church should be preserved from them, and fed with the wholesome food of pious reading? If the spirit of error or of that worldly wisdom which is folly with God, has filled our shops and streets with circulating poison in the shape of books, is not the Spirit of truth, and of Him who has overcome the world, to have also such means of instruction as may save and strengthen those whom God, by his grace, has translated into the kingdom of his beloved Son? Accept, therefore gentle reader, of "The Lives of the Saints;" Which, for their own worth's sake, and for your good, we have endeavored to recommend. And with it permit us also to recommend to your pious prayers the spiritual wants of him who has thus addressed you.




Quare quis tandem me reprehendat, si quantum ad caeteris festos dies ludorum celebrandos, quantum ad alias voluptates, et ad ipsam requiem animi et corporis conceditur temporis: Quantum alii tempestivis conviviis, quantum aleae, quantum pilae, tantum mihi egomet ad haec studia recolenda, sumpsero.



THE Reverend Alban Butler was the second son of Simon Butler, Esq., of Appletree, in the county of Northampton, by Miss Ann Birch, daughter of Thomas Birch, Esq., of Gorscot, in the county of Stafford. His family, for amplitude of possessions, and splendor of descent and alliances, had vied with the noblest and wealthiest of this kingdom, but was reduced to slender circumstances at the time of his birth. A tradition in his family mentions, that Mr. Simon Butler (our author's grandfather) was the person confidently employed by the duke of Devonshire and the earl of Warrington, in inviting the prince of Orange over to England; that he professed the protestant religion, and that his great zeal for it was his motive for embarking so warmly in that measure; but that he never thought it would be attended with the political consequences which followed from it; that, when they happened, they preyed greatly on his mind; that to fly from his remorse, he gave himself up to pleasure: and that in a few years he dissipated a considerable proportion of the remaining part of the family estate, and left what he did not sell of it heavily encumbered.

At a very early age our author was sent to a school in Lancashire, and there applied himself to his studies with that unremitted application which, in every part of his life, he gave to literature. Sacred biography was even then his favorite pursuit. A gentleman, lately deceased, mentioned to the editor that he remembered him at this school, and frequently heard him repeat, with a surprising minuteness of fact, and precision of chronology, to a numerous and wondering audience of little boys, the history of the chiefs and saints of the Saxon aera of our history. He then also was distinguished for his piety, and a punctual discharge of his religious duties. About the age of eight years he was sent to the English college at Douay. It appears, from the diary of that college, that Mr. Holman, of Warkworth, (whose memory, for his extensive charities, is still in benediction in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire,) became security for the expenses of his education. About this time he lost his father and mother. The latter, just before she died, wrote to him and his two brothers the following beautiful letter:


"Since it pleases Almighty God to take me out of this world, as no doubt wisely foreseeing I am no longer a useful parent to you, (for no person ought to be thought necessary in this world when God thinks proper to take them out;) so I hope you will offer the loss of me with a resignation suitable to the religion you are of, and offer {016} yourselves. He who makes you orphans so young, without a parent to take care of you, will take you into his protection and fatherly care, if you do love and serve him who is the author of all goodness. Above all things, prepare yourselves while you are young to offer patiently what afflictions he shall think proper to lay upon you, for it is by this he trieth his best servants. In the first place, give him thanks for your education in the true faith, (which many thousands want;) and then I beg of you earnestly to petition his direction what state of life you shall undertake, whether be for religion, or to get your livings in the world. No doubt but you may be saved either way, if you do your duty to God, your neighbor, and yourselves. And I beg of you to make constant resolutions rather to die a thousand times, if possible, than quit your faith; and always have in your thoughts what you would think of were you as nigh death as I now think myself. There is no preparation for a good death but a good life. Do not omit your prayers, and to make an act of contrition and examen of conscience every night, and frequent the blessed sacraments of the church. I am so weak I can say no more to you, but I pray God bless and direct you, and your friends to take care of you. Lastly, I beg of you never to forget to pray for your poor father and mother when they are not capable of helping themselves: so I take leave of you, hoping to meet you in heaven, to be happy for all eternity.

"Your affectionate mother, "ANN BUTLER."

Though our author's memory for the recollection of dates was, in his very earliest years, remarkable, he found, when he first came to the college, great difficulty in learning his lessons by heart; so that, to enable him to repeat them in the school as well as the other boys, he was obliged to rise long before the college hour. By perseverance, however, he overcame this disheartening difficulty. Even while he was in the lowest schools, he was respected for his virtue and learning. One of his school-fellows writes thus of him: "The year after Mr. Alban Butler's arrival at Douay, I was placed in the same school, under the same master, he being in the first class of rudiments, as it is there called, and I in the lowest. My youth and sickly constitution moved his innate goodness to pay me every attention in his power; and we soon contracted an intimacy that gave me every opportunity of observing his conduct, and of being fully acquainted with his sentiments. No one student in the college was more humble, more devout, more exact in every duty, more obedient or mortified. He was never reproved or punished but once; and then for a fault of which he was not guilty. This undeserved treatment he received with silence, patience, and humility. In the hours alloted to play he rejoiced in the meanest employments assigned to him by his companions, as to fetch their balls, run on their errands, &c. &c. Though often treated with many indignities by his thoughtless companions, on purpose to try his patience, he never was observed to show the lest resentment, but bore all with meekness and patience. By the frequent practice of these virtues he had attained so perfect evenness of temper, that his mind seemed never ruffled with the least emotion of anger. He restricted himself in every thing to the strictest bounds of necessity. Great part of his monthly allowance of pocket-money, and frequently of his daily food, went to the poor. So perfectly had he subjected the flesh to the spirit, that he seemed to feel no resistance from his senses in the service of God and his neighbor."

As he advanced in age his learning and virtue became more and more conspicuous. Monsieur Pellison,[1] in his life of the famous Huet, bishop of Avranches, observes, that "from his tenderest youth he gave himself to study; that at his rising, his going to bed, and during his meal, he was reading, or had others to read to him; that neither the fire of youth, the interruption of business, the variety of his employments, the society of his friends, nor the bustle of the world, could ever moderate his ardor of study." The same may be said of our author. He generally allowed himself no more than four hours sleep, and often passed whole nights in study and prayer. All his day was spent in reading. When he was alone, he read; when he was in company, he read; at his meals, he read; in his walks, he read; when he was in a carriage, he read; when he was on horseback, he read; whatever he did, he read. It was his custom to make abridgments of the principal works he perused, and to copy large extracts from them; several bulky volumes {017} of them have fallen into the hands of the editor. Many were surprised to see the rapidity with which he read, or rather ran through books, and at the same time acquired a full and accurate knowledge of their contents.

Footnotes: 1. Histoire de l'Academie, 1 vol. 102.


After our author had completed the usual course of study, he was admitted as alumnus of Douay college, and appointed professor of philosophy. The Newtonian system of philosophy was about that time gaining ground in the foreign universities. He adopted it, in part, into the course of philosophy which he dictated to the students. He read and considered with great attention the metaphysical works of Woolfe and Leibnitz. He did not admire them, and thought the system of pre-established harmony laid down in them irreconcilable with the received belief or opinions of the Roman Catholic church on the soul; and that much of their language, though susceptible of a fair interpretation, conveyed improper notions, or, at least, sounded offensively to Catholic ears. The late Mr. John Dunn, his contemporary at the college, frequently mentioned to the editor the extreme caution which our author used in inserting any thing new in his dictates, particularly on any subject connected with any tenet of religion. After teaching a course of philosophy, he was appointed professor of divinity. On this part of his life the editor has been favored by a gentleman deservedly damed for his erudition and piety, the reverend Robert Bannister, with a long letter, of which the reader is presented with an extract.

"I was contemporary with Mr. Alban Butler in Douay college eight years; viz. from October, 1741 to October, 1749. But as I was but a boy the greater part of that time, I had not any intimacy with him, nor was I capable of knowing any thing concerning his interior, the manner of his prayer, or the degrees to which he ascended in it, or any extraordinary communications or elevations to which the Holy Ghost, the great master and teacher of contemplation, might raise him. All that I can say is, that he opened Douay college great door to me and a gentleman whom I knew not, but who was so good as to bring me from Lisle in his coach, on Sunday between ten and eleven, the 15th of October, 1741; and the first sight of him appeared to me then so meek and so amiable, that I thought I would choose him for my ghostly father; but another, I suppose in rotation, adopted me. Mr. Alban was my sole master in my first year of divinity in 1749, and dictated the two treatises De Decalogo et De Incarnatione; he also presided over my defensions upon those two treatises, and over Mr. James Talbot's (the late bishop of London) upon universal divinity. As to heroic acts of virtue, which strike with admiration all that see or hear of them, I cannot recollect more than a uniform, constant observance of all the duties of a priest, professor, and confessarius. He was always at morning meditations, seldom omitted the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the mass, which he said with a heavenly composure, sweetness, and recollection; studying and teaching assiduously, dictating with an unwearied patience so equally and leisurely, that every one could, if he wished to do it, write his dictates in a clear and legible hand; nor do I remember that he ever sent a substitute to dictate for him; so exact and punctual he was in his duty as a professor. I never knew one more ready to go to the confession-seat, at the first intimation of any, even the least or youngest boy. He heard his penitents with wonderful meekness; and his penetration, learning, judgment, and piety, were such as to move them to place in him a singular confidence. He frequently visited the military hospital, to instruct, exhort, and hear the confessions of Irish soldiers. He sometimes assembled a number of them (when they happened to be quartered in Douay) in the college-church of St. Thomas of Canterbury, and preached to them. In one of his sermons I remember he told them, for their example and encouragement, that there are more soldiers saints than of any other vocation, or state, or condition. As poor, and often distressed, Irish men and women frequently came to Douay, he was always ready to relieve them, and administer both corporal and spiritual succors. It can never be forgotten what attention, solicitude, and care he had, in the year 1745, of our English soldiers, wounded and maimed, who were brought prisoners to Douay, and quartered in the barracks, in great numbers, after the battle of Fontenoy. He animated both by words and example all the young priests, and all in holy orders at the college, to visit them, to instruct and instil into them serious thoughts of saving their souls by embracing the only saving faith, and by true repentance.{018} He also procured for them temporal succor and relief so beneficently, that the duke of Cumberland, then generalissimo of the British and allied armies, being informed of it, promised him a special protection whensoever he came over into England. Scarce any thing affords one a better proof of Mr. Alban's eminent spirit of piety and great understanding, discretion, and light in spiritual matters, than his familiarity and friendship with M. Jean Baptiste de Villers, president of the seminary des Eveques in the university of Douay, who died October the 7th, 1746, the death of a saint, after having lived the life of one for seventy-eight years. This M. de Villers was eminent in all supernatural and moral virtues, but he concealed them under an amiable simplicity, and a plain unaffected behavior or exterior, unless charity and zeal for the glory of God and salvation of souls required their open and full exertion; and, notwithstanding his great learning, (which he had acquired by an excellent genius and diligent application to sacred studies,) and his great and solid fund of piety, he was as docile as an infant; so timorous and diffident of his own judgment, that he would neither do nor decide any thing without counsel. With this sentiment of diffidence and humility, he often visited (says M. Leroy, the faithful imitator and writer of the history of his life) a young professor, a foreigner, (that is, Alban Butler,) and passed an hour or two in his company in the afternoon, once every week, and sometimes twice, several years, until his edifying death. Their conversation together was solely about various points of morality; about the direction of souls, and the method of arriving at perfection in every action and intention; how to teach devout persons a habit of making continual aspirations to God, by acts of love, oblation, entire sacrifice of their hearts, of humility, &c. M. de Villers would not suffer more than half a small fagot to be kindled for him in the severest weather, saying to Mr. Alban, 'the other part may serve some poor person.' As to wine, or any other liquor, he never drank any but at meal-time. I remember to have heard an instance of Mr. Alban's meekness, for I am not a witness of it. When he was presiding over one of his students in divinity in the public hall of Douay college, a disputant, who was probably much offended at some proposition in the thesis, as being opposite to some favorite opinion of his school or religious family, said to him with intolerable rudeness, habes mel in ore, sed fel in corde: to which he made no reply, nor showed the least resentment. Mr. Alban Butler was totally averse to the system of probabilism, and to all assertions that favor laxity in morale. This is evident from the dictates which he delivered to us, from his treatise De Decalogo, de actibus humanis, in his Epitome moralis sacramentorum, &c. It is still more evident from his Epitome de sex prioribus conciliis [oe]cumenicis in calce tractanus de Incarnatione, that he had the highest veneration for the holy see, and for him who sits in the chair of St. Peter; that he constantly held and maintained the rights and singular prerogatives of St. Peter and his successors, in calling, presiding over, and confirming general or [oe]cumenical councils; the pope's superiority over the whole church, and over the whole college of bishops, and over a general council; the irreformability of his doctrinal decisions in points of faith and morale; his supreme power to dispense (when there is cause) in the canons of general councils; in short, the plenitude of his authority over the whole chorus, without exception or limitation, Nihil excipitur ubi distinguitur nihil."


From the letter of which we have presented the reader with an extract, it appears what our author's sentiments were on the nature and extent of the spiritual power of the see of Rome. It has frequently been said that he was the editor of doctor Hulden's Analysis Fidei: had this been the fact, it would have been a strong proof of an alteration of his sentiments on those points; but, after particular inquiry, the editor finds the assertion to be wholly unfounded.

On the celebrated questions, Of the infallibility of the Pope, and his right to the deposing power, our author thus expresses himself in one of his letters on Mr. Bower's History of the Popes; "Mr. Bower having been educated in the Catholic schools, could not but know that, though some private divine think that the pope, by the assistance of some special providence, cannot err in the decisions of faith solemnly published by him, with the mature advice of his council, or of the clergy or divines of his church, yet that this is denied by others; and that the learned Bossuet, and many others, especially of the school of Sorbon, have written warmly {019} against that opinion; and that no Catholic looks upon it as an article or term of communion. It is the infallibility of the whole church, whether assembled in a general council, or dispersed over the world, of which they speak in their controversial disputations. Yet this writer, at every turn, confounds these two things together only to calumniate and impose on the public. If he had proved that some popes had erred in faith, he would have no more defeated the article of supremacy, than he would disinherit a king by arraigning him of bad policy. The Catholic faith teaches the pope to be the supreme pastor of the church established by Christ, and that this church, founded by Christ on a rock, shall never be overcome by hell, or cease to be his true spouse. For he has promised that his true Spirit shall direct it in all truth to the end of the world. But Mr. Bower never found the infallibility of the pope in our creed; and knows very well that no such article is proposed by the church, or required of any one. Therefore the whole chain of his boastings which is conducted through the work falls to the ground.

"What he writes against the deposing power in popes, certainly cannot be made a reproach against the Catholics of England, France, Spain, &c. It is a doctrine neither taught nor tolerated in any Catholic kingdom that I know of, and which many Catholics write as warmly against as Mr. Bower could wish."


While our author continued at the college of Douay, his first publication made its appearance: this was his Letters on the History of the Popes, published by Mr. Archibald Bower. That gentleman had entered into the society of Jesus, and acquired a reputation for learning and talents. He came into England, embraced the religion of the established church, and endeavored to recommend himself to the favor of his new friends by his History of the Lives of the Popes. He also published an account of his escape from Italy, and of his motives for quitting it. The truth of the account became a subject of controversy. It was disbelieved, not only by Catholics but by Protestants. Dr. Douglas, the present bishop of Salisbury, wrote an excellent pamphlet to expose its falsehood and absurdity. It carried great improbability on the face of it. Mr. Bower was a lively writer, and defended himself with adroitness; but he was not equal to the composition of the history which he undertook to write. He was of the numerous list of authors who, when they sit down to write, have to learn what they shall write, rather than to write what they have already learned. The errors which our author exposes in his letters are sometimes the errors of a very young writer. The letters are written with ease and good-humor; they show various and extensive learning, a vigorous and candid mind. They met with universal applause.


In the year 1745, our author accompanied the late earl of Shrewsbury and the honorable James Talbot and Thomas Talbot on their travels through France and Italy. He wrote a full, entertaining, and interesting account of them. As it will be published, the editor makes no extracts from it in this place. He was always solicitous that the noble personages committed to his care should see whatever deserved attention, and be introduced to persons distinguished by their rank, talents, or virtue. He drew out for them a comparative view of the Greek, Roman, and Gothic architecture; an account of the different schools of painting; and an abridgment of the lives, and remarks on the different characters, of the most eminent painters. These will be found in his travels. He kept them from all stage entertainments: "The stage entertainments," he says, in one of his letters, "I can give no account of, as we never would see any; they being certainly very dangerous, and the school of the passions and sin, most justly abhorred by the church and the fathers. Among us, Collier, Law, &c.; among the French, the late prince of Condi, Doctor Voisin, Nicole, &c., have said enough to satisfy any Christian; though Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom, are still more implacable enemies of the stage. However, we saw the stages for their architecture, where this was curious." His opinion of the evil tendency of stage entertainments continued with him through life.


On his return from his travels our author was sent on the English mission. He {020} had long been engaged in his great work of the Lives of the Saints, and was then bringing it to a conclusion. He naturally, therefore, wished to be settled in London, for the convenience of its public libraries, and the opportunities it affords of intercourse with men of letters. But the vicar-apostolic of the middle district claimed him as belonging to that district, and appointed him to a mission in Staffordshire. This was a severe mortification to our author; he respectfully remonstrated; but the vicar-apostolic was inexorable, and required his immediate obedience. A gentleman who lived in the same house with him at the time, has mentioned to the editor, that he was with him when the summons came; and that on receiving it, he appeared much hurt, retired for half an hour to his oratory, and soon after set off for his country mission.

From Staffordshire he removed to Warkworth, the seat of Francis Eyre, esquire, to whom these sheets are dedicated. He had the highest opinion of a good missioner, and frequently declared that he knew of no situation so much to be envied, while the missioner had a love of his duties, and confined himself to them: none so miserable, when the missioner had lost the love of them, and was fond of the pleasures of life. "Such a one," he used to say, "would seldom have the means of gratifying his taste for pleasure; he would frequently find that, in company, if he met with outward civility, he was the object of silent blame; and that if he gave pleasure as a companion, no one would resort to him as a priest." He had a manuscript written by a Mr. Cox, an English missioner, who lived in the beginning of the present century, in which these sentiments were expressed forcibly and with great feeling: he often mentioned it. But no person was less critical on the conduct of others, none exacted less from them, than our author. He was always at the command of a fellow-clergyman, and ready to do him every kind of good office. To the poor, his door was always open. When he resided in London, in quality of chaplain to the duke of Norfolk, he was under no obligation, strictly speaking, of attending to any person except the duke himself and his family; but he was at the call of every one who wanted any spiritual or temporal assistance which it was in his power to afford. The poor, at length, flocked to him in such numbers that, much in opposition to his wishes, his brother, with whom he then lived, was obliged to give general orders that none of them should be admitted to him. He was ever ready to oblige. Moss. Olivet relates of Huet, the bishop of Avranches, that he was so absorbed in his studies as sometimes to neglect his pastoral duties; that once a poor peasant waited on him respecting some matter of importance, and was refused admittance, "his lordship being at his studies:" upon which the peasant retired, muttering, with great indignation, "that he hoped they should ever have another bishop who had not finished his studies before he came among them;" but our author's "being at his studies," was never a reason with him for refusing to see any one. It was often unpleasant to observe how much his good-humor, in this respect, was abused.


Our author did not remain long in Staffordshire. Edward, duke of Norfolk, (to whom the present duke is second in succession,) applied to the late Mr. Challoner for a person to be his chaplain, and to superintend the education of Mr. Edward Howard, his nephew and presumptive heir. Mr. Challoner fixed upon our author to fill that situation. His first residence, after he was appointed to it, was at Norwich in a house generally called the duke's palace. Thither some large boxes of books belonging to him were directed, but by mistake were sent to the bishop's palace. The bishop opened them, and finding them fall of Roman Catholic books, refused to deliver them. It has been mentioned, that after the battle of Fontenoy, our author was very active in serving the English prisoners, and that the duke of Cumberland returned him thanks for his conduct, and made him an offer of his services, if he should have occasion for them after his return to England. On this seizure of his books, our author applied to the duke; his highness immediately wrote to the bishop, and soon after the books were sent to their owner.

Mr. Edward Howard, by our author's advice, was first sent to the School of the English clergy, at a small village near Douay, called Esquerchin, of which the most pious and respectable Mr. Tichborne Blunt was president. After some years he was sent to complete his education at Paris; and thither our author accompanied him. Mr. Edward Howard was the Marcellus of the English Catholics; {021} never did a noble youth raise greater expectations; but he was suddenly taken ill and died after an illness of a few days. On that melancholy occasion the family expressed great pleasure in the recollection of the religious education he had received from our author.


During our author's stay at Paris he finally completed and sent to the press his great work on the Lives of the Saints. We have seen that, from his tenderest years, he had discovered his turn for sacred biography. At a very early period of his life he conceived the plan of his work; and from that time pursued it with undeviating attention. He qualified himself for an able execution of it, by unremitted application to every branch of profane or sacred literature connected with it. He was, a perfect master of the Italian, Spanish, and French languages. The last he spoke and wrote with fluency and purity. He was also perfect master of the Latin and Greek languages. At an advanced period of his life he mentioned to the editor that he could then understand the works of St. John Chrysostom as easily in the original as in the Latin interpretation; but that the Greek of Saint Gregory Nazianzen was too difficult for him. A few years before he died he amused himself with an inquiry into the true pronunciation of tee Greek language, and in preparing for the press some sheets of an intended Greek grammar. To attain that degree of knowledge of the Greek language is given to few: Menage mentions that he was acquainted with three persons only who could read a Greek writer without an interpreter. Our author had also some skill in the oriental languages. In biblical reading, in positive divinity, in canon law, in the writings of the fathers, in ecclesiastical antiquities, and in modern controversy, the depth and extent of his erudition are unquestionable. He was also skilled in heraldry: every part of ancient and modern geography was familiar to him. He had advanced tar beyond the common learning of the schools in the different branches of philosophy; and even in botany and medicine he was deeply read. In this manner he had qualified himself to execute the work he undertook.


The present section is intended to give An account of some of the principal works he consulted in the composition of it. It will contain, 1st, some remarks on the attention of the church, during the early ages of Christianity, to preserve the memory of the martyrs and saints: 2dly, some account of the acts of the martyrs; 3dly, some account of the sacred calendars: 4thly, some account of the Martyrologies: 5thly, some account of the Menaeon and Menologies of the Greek church; 6thly, some account of the early Agiographists: 7thly, some account of the Bollandists: and, 8thly, some account of the process of the beatification and canonization of saints.

IX. 1. The Roman Catholic church has ever been solicitous that the lives and miracles of those who have been eminent for their sanctify should be recorded for the edification of the faithful. St. Clement the Second, successor of St. Peter in the see of Rome, is said to have divided the fourteen districts of that city among seven notaries, assigning two districts to each of them, with directions to form a minute and accurate account of the martyrs who suffered within them. About one hundred and fifty years from that time, pope Fabian put the notaries under the care of deacons and subdeacons. The same attention to the actions and sufferings of the martyrs was shown in the provinces. Of this, the letter of the church of Smyrna, giving an account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, the letter of the churches of Lyons and Vienne, giving an account of the martyrs who suffered in those cities; and the letter of St. Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandra, to Fabius, the bishop of Antioch, on the martyrs who suffered under the emperor Decius, are remarkable instances. "Our ancestors," says Pontius, in the beginning of the acts of St. Cyprian, "held those who suffered martyrdom, though only catechumens, or of the lowest rank, in such veneration, as to commit to writing almost every thing that related to them." Nor was this attention confined to those who obtained the crown of martyrdom. Care was taken that the lives of all should be written who were distinguished by their virtues, particularly if they had been favored with the gift of miracles.

IX. 2. The lives of the martyrs and saints, written in this manner, were called their acts. They were often collected into volumes. One of the earliest of these {022} collections was made by Eusebius, the father of church history. Some of the lives he inserted in the body of his great historical work: he also published a separate collection of them; it was greatly esteemed, but has not reached our time: many others were published. These accounts of the virtues and sufferings of the martyrs were received by the faithful with the highest respect. They considered them to afford a glorious proof of the truth of the Christian faith, and of the holiness and sublimity of its doctrines. They felt themselves stimulated by them to imitate the heroic acts of virtue and constancy which they placed before their eyes, and to rely on the assistance of heaven when their own hour of trial should arrive. Thus the vocal blood of the martyrs was a powerful exhortation, both to induce the infidel to embrace the faith of Christ, and to incite the faithful to the practice of its precepts. The church, therefore, always recommended the frequent reading of the acts of the martyrs, and inserted the mention of them in her liturgy. This Ruinart proves by many examples: he also shows that the greatest care was taken to procure the genuine acts of the martyrs; or, when they could not be had, to procure exact accounts of their trials and sufferings. By this means the church was in possession of authentic histories of the persecutions she had suffered, and through which she had finally triumphed over paganism, and of particular accounts of the principal sufferers. The greatest part of them was lost in the general wreck which sacred and profane literature suffered from the barbarians who overturned the Roman empire. In every age, however, some were found who carefully preserved whatever they could save of those sacred treasures. Copies were frequently made of them; and this in this, as in every other important branch of Christian learning, the chain of tradition has been left unbroken. Much, however, of these sacred documents of church history has been irretrievably lost; and, speaking generally, the remaining part came down to us in an imperfect state. Hence Vives, at the end of the fifteenth century, exclaimed, "What a shame it is to the Christian world, that the acts of our martyrs have not been published with greater truth and accuracy!" The important task of publishing them in that manner was at length undertaken by Dom Ruinart, a Maurist monk, in his Acta primorum martyrum sincera et selecta. He executed it in a manner that gained him universal applause. His prefatory discourse, respecting the number of martyrs, has been generally admired. An invaluable accession to this branch of sacred literature was published by Stephen Evodius Assemani, in two volumes folio, at Rome in 1748. The title of the work expresses its contents: "Acta Sanctorum Martyrum orientalium et occidentalium editore Stephano Evodio Assemano, que textum Chaldaicum recensuit, notis vocalibus animavit, Latine vertit, et annotationibus illustravit." It is to be observed, that the eastern and western martyrs mentioned in this place, are not the martyrs of the eastern of Greek church, and the martyrs of the Latin or western church, in which sense the words eastern and western are generally used by ecclesiastical writers. By the eastern martyrs, Assemani denotes the martyrs who suffered in the countries which extend from the eastern bank of the Euphrates, over Mesopotamia and Chaldea to the Tigris and the parts beyond it; by the western, he denotes the martyrs who suffered in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. Stephen Assemani was the nephew of Joseph Assemani, whose Kalendaria will be mentioned in another place. Joseph was first praefect of the Vatican library; Stephen was archbishop of Apamea; both of them were Maronite monks, and sent into the east by pope Clement XII. to purchase manuscripts.

IX. 3. It was the pious custom of the early Christians to celebrate yearly the memory of the martyrs, on the days on which they suffered. On that day the martyr was considered to be born to a life of glory and immortality, and, with respect to that second life, it was called the day of his birth. The different churches, therefore, were careful to preserve an exact account of the particular days on which the martyrs obtained the crown of martyrdom. The book which contained this account was called a Calendar. At first the calendar contained the mention of the martyrs only; but, in the course of time, the confessors, or those who, without arriving at the glory of martyrdom, had confessed their faith in Christ by their heroic virtues, were admitted to the same honor. The calendars were preserved in the churches; a calendar of the Church of Rome was published by Boucher; another by Leo Alatius; a third by Joannes Fronto, chancellor of Paris, and canon regular of the church of St. Genevieve at Paris. A most ancient calendar of the church of Carthage was published by Mabillon. But under this head no publication is more respectable than Joseph Assemani's Kalendaria Ecclesiae universae notis illustrata.


IX. 4. The calendars gave rise to the Martyrologies; the object of them was to collect, in one volume, from the calendars of the different churches, the names of the martyrs and confessors throughout the world, with a brief mention of the day of their decease, and the place in which they suffered, or which they had illustrated by their birth, their residence, their rank, or their virtues. The Roman Martyrology is mentioned in the following terms by St. Gregory, (Lib. 8. Epist. Indict. 1.) in a letter to Eulogius, the bishop of Alexandria: "We," says his holiness, "have the names of almost all the martyrs collected into one volume, and referred to the days on which they suffered; and we celebrate the solemn sacrifice of the mass daily in their honor. But our calendar does not contain the particulars of their sufferings; it only mentions their names, and the place and time of their martyrdom." The Roman calendar seems to have been adopted generally through the western church. It certainly was received in England. At the council held at Shovesham in 747, by Cuthbert, the archbishop of Canterbury, it was ordered, "That throughout the year, the feasts of the saints should be celebrated on the days appointed by the Martyrology of the church of Rome, with the proper psalms." It was once generally believed to have been composed by St. Jerom; but this opinion is now universally rejected. It suffered much in the middle ages. Pope Gregory XIII., immediately after he had completed the great work of reforming the calendar, used the most earnest endeavors to procure a correct edition of the Roman Martyrology. He committed the care of it to some of the most distinguished writers of his time on ecclesiastical subjects. Among them, Bellarmin, Baronius, and Gavant deserve particular mention. With this edition Baronius himself was not satisfied. He published another edition in 1586: and afterwards, at the instigation of cardinal Sirlet, published a still more correct edition, with notes, in 1598. He prefixed to his edition a dissertation, in which he appears to have exhausted the subject. A further correction of the Roman Martyrology was made by pope Urban VIII. They were all surpassed by that published by pope Benedict XIV., at Cologne, in 1751. But the most useful edition is that published at Paris, in 1661, by father Lubin, an Augustinian friar. It is accompanied with excellent notes and geographical tables. Politus, an Italian divine, published, in 1751, the first volume of a new edition of the Roman Martyrology. It comprises the month of January, but the plan of annotation is so extended, that it fills five hundred folio pages of the smallest print; from the time of Drackenborch's edition of Livy, so prolix a commentary had not been seen. Among other principal Martyrologies, is that of the Venerable Bede. After several faulty editions of it had appeared, it was correctly published by Henschenius and Papebroke, and afterwards by Smith, at the end of his edition of Bede's Ecclesiastical History. Notwithstanding Bede's great and deserved celebrity, the Martyrology of Usuard, a Benedictine monk, was in more general use; he dedicated it to Charles the Bald, and died about 875. It was published by Solerius at Antwerp, in 1714, and by Dom Bouillard, in 1718; but the curious still seek for the earlier edition by Molanus, in 1568, as, in the subsequent editions, some parts of it were omitted. Another Martyrology of renown is that of Ado; he was archbishop of Vienne, in Dauphine, and died in 875. The best edition of it is that by Roswede, in 1613, published at Rome in 1745.—Such have been the exertions of the church of Rome, to perpetuate the memory of those who have illustrated her by their virtues. During the most severe persecutions, in the general wreck of the arts and sciences, in the midst of the public and private calamities which attended the destruction of the Roman empire, the providence of God always raised some pious and enlightened men, who preserved the deposit of faith, sod transmitted to future times the memory of whatever had been most virtuous in former ages or their own.

IX. 5. The Greek church has also shown great attention to preserve the memory of the holy martyrs and saints. This appears from her Menaeon and Monologue. The Menaeon is divided into twelve months, and each month is contained in a volume. All the saints, whose festivals occur in that month, have their proper day assigned to them in it: the rubric of the divine office, to be performed on that day, is mentioned; the particulars of the office follow; an account of the life and actions of the saint is inserted; and sometimes an engraving of him is added. If it happen that the saint has not his peculiar office, a prose or hymn in his praise in generally introduced. The greater solemnities have an appropriate office. From this the intelligent reader will observe that the Menaeon of the Greeks is {024} nearly the same as a work would be, which should unite in itself the Missal and Breviary of the Roman Catholic church. It was printed in twelve volumes in folio at Venice. Bollandus mentions that Raderus, a Tyrolese Jesuit, had translated the whole of the Menaeon, and pronounced it to be free from schism or heresy.

The Menologium answers to the Latin Martyrology. There are several Menologia, as, at different times, great alterations have been made in them. But the ground-word of them all is the same, so that they are neither wholly alike nor wholly different. A translation of a Menologium into Latin by cardinal Sirlet, was published by Henry Canisius, in the third volume of his Lectiones Antiquae. The Greek original, with a new version, was published by Annibal Albani, at Urbino, in 1727. From these works it is most clear that the Greek church invokes the saints, and implores their intercession with God: "Haud obscure ostendit," says Walchius, "Graecos eo cultu prosequi homines in sanctorum ordinem ascriptos, ut ilios incocent." Bib. Theologica, vol. iii. 668. From the Menaeon, and the Menologium, Raderus published a collection of pious and entertaining narratives, under the title of Viridarum Sanctorum. It is to be wished that some gentleman would employ his leisure in a translation of it. We should then be furnished, from the works of the Agiographists of the eastern church, with a collection of pious and instructing narratives, similar to those in the well-known Histoires Choisies. One of the most curious articles inserted in the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, is the Muscovite or Russian Calendar, with the engravings of the saints. It was first published by father Possevin. He praises the Russians for the great attention to decency which they observe in their pictures and engravings of holy subjects. He mentions that the Russians, who accompanies him in his return to Rome, observed with surprise in the Italian paintings of saints, a want of the like attention. Father Papebroke, when he cites this passage, adopts the remark, and loudly calls on Innocent XII. to attend to the general decency of all public paintings and statues. A Greek Calendar of the Saints in hexameter verse accompanies the Russian Calendar, in the Acta Sanctorum; both are illustrated with notes by father Pane broke.

IX. 6. We proceed to the Lives of the Saints, written by individuals. For these our attention must be first directed to the Agiographists of the Greek church. The eighth century may be considered as the period when Grecian literature had reached its lowest state of depression; in the ninth, Bardas Caesar, the brother of the empress Theodora, protected letters; from that time they were constantly cultivated by the Greeks; so that Constantinople, utile it was taken by Mahomet, was never without its historians, poets, or philosophers. Compared with the writings of the ancients, their compositions seem lifeless and unnatural; we look among them in vain either for original genius or successful imitation. Still they are entitled to our gratitude; many of the precious remains of antiquity have come down to us only in their extracts and abridgments; and their voluminous compilations have transmitted to us much useful information which has no other existence. Sacred biography, in particular, has great obligations to them. The earliest work on that subject we owe to the care which the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus bestowed on the literary education of his son; an example which, at the distance of about six hundred years, was successfully rivalled by the elegant edition of the Delphin Classics, published under the aspics of Lewis XIV. But the Greek emperor had this advantage over the French monarch, that he himself was the author of some of the works published for the use of his son. In the first (published by Lerch and Reisch at Leipsic, in 1751) he described the ceremonial of the Byzantine court; the second (published by Banduri, in his Imperium Orientale) is a geographical survey of the provinces, or, as he calls them, the Themata of the empire; the third, which some ascribe to the emperor Leo, his father, describes the prevailing system of military tactics; the forth delineates the political relations and intercourse of the court of Byzantium with the other states. His Geoponics (published by Nicholas Niclas at Leipsic, in 1731, in two volumes, 8vo.) were written with a view of instructing his subjects in agriculture. By his direction, a collection of historical examples of vice and virtue was compiled in fifty-three books, and Simeon Metaphrastes, the great logothete, or chancellor of the empire, composed his Lives of the Saints. Several of them were published, with a Latin translation, by the care of Lipoman, the bishop of Verona. Cardinal Bellarmin accuses Metaphrastes of giving too much loose to his imagination. "He inserts," {025} says the cardinal, "such accounts of conversations of the martyrs with their persecutors, and such accounts of conversions of bystanders, as exceed belief. He mentions many and most wonderful miracles on the destruction of the temples and idols, and on the death of the persecutors, of which nothing is said by the ancient historians." We next come to Jacobus de Voragine, a Dominican friar and archbishop of Genoa, in 1292. His Golden Legend was the delight of our ancestors during the ages which preceded the revival of letters. The library of no monastery was without it. Like the essays of Montaigne, it was to be found on the shelf of every private person; and, for a long time after the invention of printing, no work more often issued from the press. After enjoying the highest degree of reputation, it lost much of its celebrity, in consequence of the Lives of Saints published by Mombritius in two immense volumes, in folio, about the year 1480, from manuscripts in the library of the church of St. John of Lateran and in consequence of the Lives of Saints published by Surius, a Carthusian monk. The first edition of Surius's work was published in 1570-75, in six volumes; the second appeared in 1578, the third and most complete was published, in twelve volumes, in 1615. That he frequently shows too much credulity, and betrays a want of taste, must be admitted; but his works are allowed to breathe a spirit of piety; his candor, and desire to be accurate, are discernible in every part of his writings; and his learning, for the age in which he lived, was considerable. In Ribadeneira the line of ancient Agiographists respectably finishes.

While candor and good taste must allow that, even in the Lest of the compilations we have mentioned, there is a great want of critical discernment, and that they are wholly deficient in elegance, and the artificial beauties of composition, justice requires that their defects should not be exaggerated. Still less should an intention to deceive, even on the pretence of edification, be imputed to them. Whatever may have been either the error or the criminality of some of her members, the church herself, in this, as in every other instance, has always inculcated the duty of sincerity and truth, and reprobated a deviation from them, even on the specious pretence of producing good. On this subject our author thus forcibly expresses himself, in one of his letters on Mr. Bower's History of the Lives of the Popes: "It is very unjust to charge the popes or the Catholic church with countenancing knowingly false legends; seeing all the divines of that communion unanimously condemn all such forgeries as lies in things of great moment, and grievous sins; and all the councils, popes, and other bishops, have always expressed the greatest horror of such villanies; which no cause or circumstances whatever can authorize, and which, in all things relating to religion, are always of the most heinous nature. Hence the authors, when detected, have been always punished with the utmost severity. Dr. Burnet himself says, that those who feigned a revelation at Basil, of which he gives a long detail, with false circumstances, in his letters on his travels, were all burnt at stakes for it, which we read more exactly related by Surius in his Commentary on his own times. The truth is, that many false legends of true martyrs were forged by heretics, as were those of St. George, condemned by pope Gelasius, as many false gospels were soon after the birth of Christianity, of which we have the names of near fifty extant. Other wicked or mistaken persons have sometimes been guilty of a like imposture. A priest at Ephesus forged acts of St. Paul's voyages, out of veneration for that apostle, and was deposed for it by St. John the evangelist, as we learn from Tertullian. To instance examples of this nature would form a complete history; for the church has always most severely condemned all manner of forgeries. Sometimes the more virtuous and remote from fraud a person is, the more unwilling he is to suspect an imposture in others. Some great and good men have been imposed upon by lies, and have given credit to false histories, but without being privy to the forgery; and nothing erroneous, dangerous, or prejudicial was contained in what they unwarily admitted. However, if credulity in private histories was too easy in any former age, certainly skepticism and infidelity are the characters of this in which we live. No histories, except those of holy scripture, are proposed as parts of divine revelation or articles of faith; all others rest upon their bare historical authority. They who do not think this good and sufficient in any narrations, do well to suggest modestly their reasons; yet may look upon them at least as parables, and leave others the liberty of judging for themselves without offence. But Mr. Bower says, p. 177, 'The Roman Breviary is the most authentic book the {026} church of Rome has, after the scripture; it would be less dangerous, at least in Italy, to deny any truth revealed in the scripture, than to question any fable related in the Breviary.' Catholic divines teach that every tittle in the holy scriptures is sacred, divinely inspired, and the word of God dictated by the Holy Ghost. Even the definitions of general councils do not enjoy an equal privilege; they are indeed the oracles of an unerring guide in the doctrine of faith; which guide received, together with the scriptures, the true sense and meaning of the articles of faith contained in them; and, by the special protection of the Holy Ghost, invariably preserves the same by tradition from father to son, according to the promises of Christ. But the church receives no new revelation of faith, and adds nothing to that which was taught by the apostles: 2dly, Its decisions are not supernaturally infallible in matters of fact, as scripture histories are, but only in matters of faith. Nor do Catholics say that its expressions, even in decisions of faith, are strictly dictated by the Holy Ghost, or suggested from him, by any immediate revelation or inspiration; but only that the church is directed by his particular guidance, according to his divine truths, revealed and delivered to his church by his apostles. As to the Roman Breviary, the prayers consist, for the greatest part, of the psalms, and other parts of the holy scriptures, to which the same respect is due which we pay to the divine books. The short lessons from the Homilies, or other works of approved fathers, especially those fathers who are mentioned by Gelasius I. in his decree, carry with them the authority of their venerable authors. As it was the custom in the primitive ages to read, in the churches or assemblies, the acts of the most illustrious martyrs, of which frequent mention is made in those of St. Polycarp, &c., some short histories of the martyrs and other saints have been always inserted in the Breviary, to which only an historical assent is due, whence they have been sometimes altered and amended. These are chiefly such as are judged authentic and probable by the cardinals Baronius and Bellarmin, who revised those lessons, in the last correction under Clement VIII. Gavant, who was himself one of the revisers of the Breviary, and secretary to the congregation, writes thus, (in Breviar. sect. 5, c. 12, n. 15, p. 18:) 'The second lessons from the histories of the saints were revised by Bellarmin and Baronius, who rejected what could be justly called in question: in which difficult task they thought it best to restore the truth of history with the least change possible, and to retain those things which had a certain degree of probability, and had the authority of some grave voucher, though the contrary sentiment had perhaps more patrons.' In computing the years of the popes, the chronology of Baronius was judged the most exact, and retained. Historical facts, nowise revealed or contained in scripture, cannot be made an object of divine faith. If edifying histories are inserted in the church-office, they stand upon their own credit. Such only ought to be chosen which are esteemed authentic. This rule has been always followed when any were compiled. If the compilers are found afterwards to have been mistaken, it is nowhere forbid to correct them.[1] This has been often done by the order of several popes."

Footnotes: 1. Nimia profecto almplicitate peccant qui scandalizantur quoties audiunt aliquid ex jam olim creditia et juxta breviarii prescriptum hodiedum recitandis, in disputationem adduci.—Diss. Ballandic{e}. vol. 2, p. 140.

IX. 7. Among the modern collections of the Lives of Saints, of which our authors availed himself, in the work we are speaking of, the histories which different religious have written of their own orders, hold a distinguished place. But he was indebted to no work so much as the Acta sanctorum of the Bollandists. That noble collection was first projected by Father Roswede of the society of Jesus. He died before he had completely digested his plan. Fortunately for the lovers either of sacred history or sacred literature, it mm taken up by father Bollandus of the same society, and has been carried down to the eleventh day of October inclusive. Those who, after Bollandus's decease, succeeded him in his undertaking, were from him called Bollandists.

As far as the editor has been able to learn, the work was composed by the following authors, and published in the number of volumes and years following:

No. of Vols. Years of their Months. all in folio. appearance. Authors. January Two, 1643 ........... Bollandus and Henschenius February Three, 1658 ........... Bollandus and Henschenius March Three, 1668 ........... Henschenius and Papebrochius April Three, 1675 ........... Henschenius and Papebrochius May Seven, 1680-1688....... Henschenius, Papebrochius, Baertius, and Janningus


June Six, 1695—1715...... Henschenius, Papebrochius, Baertius, Janningus, and Sollerius July Seven, 1719—1731...... Janningus, Sollerius, Pinius, Cuperius, and Boschinus. August Six, 1733—1743...... Sollerius, Pinius, Cuperius, Boschius, and Stiltingus September Eight, 1746—1762...... Pinius, Stiltingus, Limpenus, Veldius, Suyskenius, Pericrius, and Cleus. October Five 1765—1786...... Stiltingus, Suyskenius, Perierius, Byeus, Boaeus, Gnesquierus, Hubenus, and Fronsonus.

Antwerp was the scene of the labors of the Bollandists. They were engaged on them, when the enemies of every thing sacred arrived there under Pichegru. The most eminent of the Bollandists was Father Papebroke, a rival of the Petaviuses, the Sirmonds, and Mabillons: one of those men who exalt the character of the society to which they belong, and the age in which they live. The Spanish Inquisition condemned some of the volumes in which he was concerned, but afterwards retracted the censure. Several dissertations, replete with various and profound erudition, are interspersed in the body of the work; they are equally distinguished by the learning, and the soundness and sobriety of criticism which appear in them. It would be an irreparable loss to the Christian world that the work should not be completed. The principal dissertations have been printed, in three volumes folio, at Venice, in 1749-59. Those who wish to see an account of the controversy which produced or was occasioned by the sentence of the Inquisition, may consult the Acta Eruditorum, 1696, p. 132-500.

IX. 8. Another source of information, of which our author availed himself in the composition of his work, was the Acts of the Beatification and Canonization of the Saints.

The name of Martyr was given by the ancient church to those who had suffered death for the faith of Christ; the name of Confessor was applied to those who had made a public profession of their faith before the persecutors. It was afterwards extended to those who had edified the church by their heroic virtues. St. Martin of Tours is generally supposed to have been the first saint to whom the title of confessor was applied in the last sense.

Originally, every bishop had the privilege of canonizing saints, or declaring them entitled to the honors which the Catholic church bestows on her saints. The council of Cologne, cited by Ivo of Chartres, forbids the faithful to show any public mark of veneration to any modern saint, without the permission of the diocesan. A capitulary of Charlemagne in 801 is to the same effect.

Pope Alexander III. is supposed to have been the first pope who reserved the exclusive privilege of canonizing saints to the holy see. It was recognised by the church of France at a council at Vienne, in which the bishops, addressing themselves to pope Gregory IX., expressly say, "that no sanctity, however eminent, authorizes the faithful to honor the memory of a saint, without the permission of the holy see."

The present mode of proceeding in the canonization of saints, principally takes its rise from the decree of pope Urban VIII., dated the 13th of March, 1625. By that he forbade the public veneration of every new saint, not beatified or baptized; and particularly ordered that no one, even in private, should paint the image of any person, whatever might be his reputation for sanctity, with a crown or {}e of light round his head; or expose his picture in any sacred place, or publish a history of his life, or a relation of his virtues and miracles, without the approbation of his diocesan: that if, in a work so approved of, the person were called saint, or blessed, those words should only be used to denote the general holiness of his life, but not to anticipate the general judgment of the church. His holiness adds a form of protestation to that effect, which he requires the authors to sign, at the beginning and end of their works. This regulation of pope Urban is so strictly attended to, that a single proof of the infraction of it, and even the omission of a definite sentence that there has been no infraction of it, makes the canonization of the saint impossible, and invalidates the whole of the proceedings. The only exception is, in favor of those saints who are proved to have been immemorially venerated for a hundred years and upwards, before 1634, the year in which pope Urban's bull was confirmed.

The beatification of a saint is generally considered as a preliminary to his canonization. It is a kind of provisional permission, authorizing the faithful to honor {028} the memory of the person beatified; but qualified as to the place or manner. A decree of pope Alexander VIII. in 1659, prohibits the faithful from carrying those honors farther than the bull of beatification expressly permits.

The proceedings of beatification or canonization are long, rigorous, and expensive. 1st, The bishop of the diocese institutes a process, in the nature of an information, to inquire into the public belief of the virtues and miracles of the proposed, and to ascertain that the decree we have mentioned of pope Urban VIII. has been complied with: this proceeding begins and ends with the bishop, his sentence being conclusive. 2dly, The acts of this proceeding, with the bishop's sentence, are sealed up, then taken to the congregation of rites: and deposited with the notary. 3dly, The solicitors for the congregation petition for publication of the proceedings. 4thly, This is granted; and the proceedings, being first legally verified, are opened before the cardinal-president of the congregation, 5thly, The pope is then requested to refer the business to a particular cardinal to report upon it. 6thly, This being granted, the writings of the proposed, if he be the author of any, are laid before the cardinal-reporter. 7thly, He appoints a commission to assist him, and, with their assistance, makes his report. If one formal error against faith, one direct opinion contrary to morals, be round in them, it puts a total end to the proceedings, unless the author, in his life, expressly retracted it. "A general protestation;" says Benedict XIV., "the most sincere submission of all opinions to the authority of the Catholic church, saves the author from criminality, but does not prevent the effect of this rigorous escalation." 8thly, Hitherto the proceedings are not in strictness before the pope; but, from this sage of the business, the affair wholly devolves on his holiness. He signs a commission to the congregation of rites to institute and prosecute the process of beatification; but, before this commission is granted, ten years must have expired, from the time when the acts of the diocesan were first lodged with the congregation of rites. 9thly; The congregation of rites appoints commissaries, whom the pope delegates, to inform themselves of the virtues and miracles are the proposed. The commissaries usually are bishops, and the bishop of the diocese where the proposed is buried is usually one of them; but laymen are never employed. The proceedings of the commissaries are secret, and carried on and subscribed with the strictest order and regularity, and in great form; the last step in their proceedings is to visit the tomb of the deceased, and to draw out a verbal process of the state in which his remains are found. The original of the proceedings is left with the bishops; a legalized copy is taken of them, and returned by a sworn courier to the congregation of rites. 10thly, The solicitors for the congregation then pray for what is called a decree of attribution, or that an inquiry may be made into each particular virtue and miracle attributed to the proposed: 11thly, Upon this, they proceed to make the inquiry, beginning with the virtues and ending with the miracles; but of the former they can take on notice in this stage of the business, till fifty years from the time of the proposed's decease: in the case of a martyr, his martyrdom alone, with proof both of the heroism with which it was suffered, and of its having been suffered purely and absolutely in the cause of Christ, is supposed to make an inquiry into his virtues unnecessary. 12thly, The final determination of the cause is settled in three extraordinary congregations, called the antepreparatory, the preparatory, and the general. The virtues to be approved of must be of the most heroic kind: the number of miracles is, in strictness, limited to two. The pope collects the vows of the assembly; and two-thirds of it, at least, must agree in opinion, before they come to a resolution. He then pronounces what is called a private sentence, before the promoter and the secretary of the congregation of St. Peter. 13thly, A general congregation is then held, to determine whether it be advisable to proceed to the beatification of the proposed. 14thly, Three consistories are afterwards held. l5thly, The pope then signs the brief of beatification. The publication of it is performed in the church of the Vatican. The solicitor for the beatification presents the brief to the cardinal-prefect; he remits it to the cardinal-archpriest of the church where the ceremony is held. The cardinal-archpriest reads it aloud; the Te Deum is sung, a collect in honor of the beatified is read, and mass is solemnized in his honor. 16thly, When the proceedings for the beatification are completed, the proceedings for the canonization begin. But it is necessary that, before any thing be done in them, new miracles should be wrought. When the solicitor for the canonization is satisfied that he can prove by judicial evidence the existence of these miracles, he presents a petition for resuming the {029} cause. 17thly, Three congregations extraordinary, a general assembly, and three consistories, are held for the purpose of pronouncing on the new miracles, and determining whether it be prudent to proceed to canonization. 18thly, This being determined upon, the pope issues the brief of canonization, and, soon after, the ceremonial follows. It begins by a solemn procession: an image of the saint is painted on several banners. When the procession arrives at the church where the ceremony is performed, the pope seats himself on his throne, and receives the usual homage of the court. The solicitor for the cause and the consistorial advocate place themselves at the feet of his holiness, and request the canonization; the litanies are sung; the request is made a second time; the Veni Creator is sung; the request is made a third time; the secretary announces that it is the will of the pope to proceed immediately upon the canonization; the solicitor requests that the letters of canonization may be delivered in due form; his holiness delivers them, and the first prothonotary calls on all the assembly to witness the delivery. The Te Deum is sung, and high mass is solemnized.

The decree of canonization is usually worded in these terms: "To the glory of the Holy Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith, and the increase of the Christian religion: In virtue of the authority of Jesus Christ, of the holy apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent invocations of the heavenly light, with consent of our venerable brethren, the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops, present at Rome, we declare the blessed N. to be a saint, and we inscribe him as such in the catalogue of the saints. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen."

Such is the outline of the process of canonization. It must be added, that the strictest evidence is required of every thing offered in proof. It is laid down as a universal rule, which admits of no exception, that the same evidence shall be required, through the whole of the process, as in criminal cases is required to convict an offender of a capital crime; and that no evidence of any fact shall be received, if a higher degree of evidence of the same fact can possibly be obtained. Hence, a copy of no instrument is admitted, if the original be in existence; no hearsay witness is received, if ocular testimony can be produced. The rigorous examination of every circumstance offered to be proved has excited the surprise of intelligent Protestants. Miracles, which to them seemed proved to the utmost degree of demonstration, have, to their surprise, been rejected. Whatever there is most awful in religion, most sacred in an oath, or most tremendous in the censures of the church, is employed in the process of canonization to elicit truth and detect falsehood. Every check and countercheck is used, which slowness of proceeding, or a repetition of it in other stages and under different forms, can effect. The persons employed in it are the members of the Roman Catholic church, the most exalted by their rank, and the most renowned for their virtues and talents. When the proceedings are concluded, they are printed and exposed to the examination of the whole world. The sixth volume of the celebrated treatise of Benedict XIV. on the beatification and canonization of saints, contains the acts of the saints canonized by himself.


With these helps our author sat down to his work. We may suppose him addressing to the saints, whose lives he was about to write, a prayer similar to the beautiful prayer addressed to them by Bollandus at the end of his general preface, and which may be thus abridged: "Hail, ye citizens of heaven! courageous warriors! triumphant over the world! from the blessed scenes of your everlasting glory, look on a low mortal, who searches everywhere for the memorials of your virtues and triumphs. Show your favor to him; give him to discover the valuable monuments of former times; to distinguish the spurious from the legitimate; to digest his work in proper order and method; to explain and illustrate whatever is obscure. Take under your protection all who have patronized or assisted him in his undertakings: obtain for all who read his work, that they imitate the examples of virtue which it places before their eyes; and that they experience how sweet, how useful, and how glorious it is to walk in your steps."

In the preface to the French translation, the work is said to have cost our author the labor of thirty years. It was his practice, when he began to write the life of any saint, to read over and digest the whole of his materials, before he committed any thing to paper. His work evidently shows, that his mind was full of its subject, {030} and that what he wrote was the result of much previous information and reflection. On many occasions he must have written on subjects which were new to him; but, such is the mutual connection and dependence of every branch of literature, that a mind stored like his was already in possession of that kind of knowledge, which would make him apprehend, with great ease, whatever he had to learn; and would instruct him, though the subject were new to him, where he might express himself decisively, and where he should doubt. How extensive and profound his general knowledge was, appears from this, that a person who happens to have made any subject, treated of by him, his particular study, will seldom read what our author has written upon it without finding in it something original, or, at least, so happily expressed or illustrated as to have the merit of originality. In some instances, as in his account of the Manichaens, in the life of St. Augustine, and of the crusades, in the life of St. Lewis, he shows such extent and minuteness of investigation, as could only be required from works confined to those subjects. In other instances, where his materials are scanty, so that he writes chiefly from his own mind, as in the lives of St. Zita or St. Isidore of Pelusium, he pours an unpremeditated stream of piety, which nothing but an intimate acquaintance with the best spiritual writers could produce.

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