S. (Sabine) Baring-Gould.

The lives of the saints (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 38)
Online LibraryS. (Sabine) Baring-GouldThe lives of the saints (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook









This book is DUE on the last date stamped below





* *


JUtoes of tl)e faints




* *

First Edition published 1S72

Second Edition .... ,, f $97

New and Revised Edition, 16 vols. ,, J9 J 4

In the Treasury of the Cathedral, Aix-la-Chapelle.

Jan., Frontispiece.]

* %


3Lite of tije g>aint0



With Introduction and Additional Lives of English

Martyrs, Cornish, Scottish, and Welsh Saints,

and a full Index to the Entire Work

New and Revised Edition





jt #

. a v 3 3

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
at the Lallantyne Press, Edinburgh


Jan., p. v.

TT7? '

V, /



have begun, is an undertaking, of whose
difficulty few can have any idea. Let it
be remembered, that there were Saints in
every century, for eighteen hundred years; that their
Acts are interwoven with the profane history of their
times, and that the history, not of one nation only,
but of almost every nation under the sun; that the
records of these lives are sometimes fragmentary,
sometimes mere hints to be culled out of secular
history; that authentic records have sometimes suf-
fered interpolation, and that some records are forgeries;
that the profane history with which the lives of the
Saints is mixed up is often dark and hard to be read ;
and then some idea may be formed of the difficulty of
this undertaking.

After having had to free the Acts of a martyr from
a late accretion of fable, and to decide whether the
passion took place under say Decius or Diocletian,
Claudius the Elder, or Claudius the younger, the
writer of a hagiology is hurried into Byzantine politics,
and has to collect the thread of a saintly confessor's

* *

* *

vi Author's Preface to First Edition

life from the tangle of political and ecclesiastical in-
trigue, in that chaotic period when emperors rose
and fell, and patriarchs succeeded each other with
bewildering rapidity. And thence he is, by a step,
landed in the romance world of Irish hagiology, where
the footing is as insecure as on the dark bogs of the
Emerald Isle. Thence he strides into the midst of
the wreck of Charlemagne's empire, to gather among
the splinters of history a few poor mean notices of
those holy ones living then, whose names have sur-
vived, but whose acts are all but lost. And then the
scene changes, and he treads the cool cloister of a
mediaeval abbey, to glean materials for a memoir of
some peaceful recluse, which may reflect the crystalline
purity of the life without being wholly colourless of

And then, maybe, he has to stand in the glare of
the great conflagration of the sixteenth century, and
mark some pure soul passing unscathed through the
fire, like the lamp in Abraham's vision.

That one man can do justice to this task is not to
be expected. When Bellarmine heard of the under-
taking of Rosweydus, he asked "What is this man's
age ? does he expect to live two hundred years ? "
But for the work of the Bollandists, it would have
been an impossibility for me to undertake this task.
But even with this great store-house open, the work
to be got through is enormous. Bollandus began
January with two folios in double columns, close print,
of 1 200 pages each. As he and his coadjutors pro-
ceeded, fresh materials came in, and February occupies
three volumes. May swelled into seven folios, Sep-

* *

* *

Authors Preface to First Edition vii

tember into eight, and October into ten. It was begun
in 1643, and the fifty- seventh volume appeared in 186 1.

The labour of reading, digesting, and selecting from
this library is enormous. .With so much material it is
hard to decide what to omit, but such a decision must
be made, for the two volumes of January have to be
crushed into one, not a tenth of the size of one of
Bollandus, and the ten volumes for October must
suffer compression to an hundredth degree, so as to
occupy the same dimensions. I had two courses open
to me. One to give a brief outline, bare of incident,
of the life of every Saint ; the other to diminish the
number of lives, and present them to the reader in
greater fulness, and with some colour. I have adopted
this latter course, but I have omitted no Saint of great
historical interest. I have been compelled to put aside
a great number of lesser known saintly religious,
whose eventless lives flowed uniformly in prayer, vigil,
and mortification.

In writing the lives of the Saints, I have used my
discretion, also, in relating only those miracles which
are most remarkable, either for being fairly well
authenticated, or for their intrinsic beauty or quaint-
ness, or because they are often represented in art,
and are therefore of interest to the archaeologist. That
errors in judgment, and historical inaccuracies, have
crept into this volume, and may find their way into
those that succeed, is, I fear, inevitable. All I can
promise is, that I have used my best endeavours to
be accurate, having had recourse to all such modern
critical works as have been accessible to me, for the
determining of dates, and the estimation of authorities.

vol. 1. b

* >j,

* -*

viii Author's Preface to First Edition

Believing that in some three thousand and six hun-
dred memoirs of men, many of whose lives closely
resembled each other, it would be impossible for me
to avoid a monotony of style which would become as
tedious to the reader as vexatious to myself, I have
occasionally admitted the lives of certain Saints by
other writers, thereby giving a little freshness to the
book, where there could not fail otherwise to have
been aridity ; but I have, I believe, in no case, inserted
a life by another pen, without verifying the authorities.

At the head of every article the authority for the life
is stated, to which the reader is referred for fuller
details. The editions of these authorities are not
given, as it would have greatly extended the notices,
and such information can readily be obtained from
that invaluable guide to the historian of the Middle
Ages, Potthast : Bibliotheca Historica Medii sEvi,
Berlin, 1862; the second part of which is devoted to
the Saints.

I have no wish that my work should be regarded as
intended to supplant that of Alban Butler. My line is
somewhat different from his. He confined his atten-
tion to the historical outlines of the saintly lives, and
he rarely filled them in with anecdote. Yet it is the
little details of a man's life that give it character, and
impress themselves on the memory. People forget
the age and parentage of S. Gertrude, but they re-
member the mouse running up her staff.

A priest of the Anglican Church, I have undertaken
to write a book which I hope and trust will be welcome
to Roman and Anglican Catholics, alike. It would
have been unseemly to have carried prejudice, imper-

* *

* *

Author's Preface to First Edition ix

tinent to have obtruded sectarianism, into a work like
this. I have been called to tread holy ground, and
kneel in the midst of the great company of the blessed ;
and the only fitting attitude of the mind for such a
place, and such society, is reverence. In reading the
miracles recorded of the Saints, of which the number
is infinite, the proper spirit to observe is, not doubt,
but discrimination. Because much is certainly apocry-
phal in these accounts, we must not therefore reject
what may be true. The present age, in its vehement
naturalism, places itself, as it were, outside of the
circle of spiritual phenomena, and is as likely to deny
the supernatural agency in a marvel, as a mediaeval was
liable to attribute a natural phenomenon to spiritual
causes. In such cases we must consider the evidence
and its worth or worthlessness. It may be that, in
God's dealings with men, at a time when natural means
of cure were unattainable, the supernatural should
abound, but that when the science of medicine became
perfected, and the natural was rendered available to all,
the supernatural should, to some extent, at least, be

Of the Martyrologies referred to, it may be as well
to mention the dates of the most important That of
Ado is of the ninth century, Bede's of the eighth; 1
there are several bearing the name of S. Jerome,
which differ from one another, they are forms of the
ancient Roman Martyrology. The Martyrology of
Notker (D. 912), of Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), of
Usuardus (875), of Wandalbert (circ. 881). The
general catalogue of the Saints by Ferrarius was
1 This only exists in an interpolated condition.

, .(j,

*. *

x Author's Preface to First Edition

published in 1625, the Martyrology of Maurolycus
was composed in 1450, and published 1568. The
modern Roman Martyrology is based on that of Usu-
ardus. It is impossible, in the limited space available
for a preface, to say all that is necessary on the various
Kalendars, and Martyrologies, that exist, also on the
mode in which some of the Saints have received
apotheosis. Comparatively few Saints have received
formal canonization at Rome ; popular veneration was
regarded as sufficient in the mediaeval period, before
order and system were introduced; thus there are
many obscure Saints, famous in their own localities,
and perhaps entered in the kalendar of the diocese,
whose claims to their title have never been authori-
tatively inquired into, and decided upon. There is also
great confusion in the monastic kalendars in appropri-
ating titles to those commemorated; here a holy one
is called " the Venerable," there " the Blessed," and in
another " Saint." With regard also to the estimation
of authorities, the notes of genuineness of the Acts of
the martyrs, the tests whereby apocryphal lives and
interpolations may be detected, I should have been
glad to have been able to make observations. But
this is a matter which there is not space to enter
upon here.

The author cannot dismiss the work without ex-
pressing a hope that it may be found to meet a want
which he believes has long been felt ; for English
literature is sadly deficient in the department of

* *

gf *




MARTYROLOGY means, properly, a list
of witnesses. The martyrologies are cata-
logues in which are to be found the names
of the Saints, with the days and places of
their deaths, and generally with the distinctive char-
acter of their sanctity, and with an historic summary
of their lives. The name is incorrect if we use the
word "martyr" in its restricted sense as a witness
unto death. " Hagiology " would be more suitable,
as a martyrology includes the names of many Saints
who were not martyrs. But the term " Martyrology "
was given to this catalogue at an early age, when it
was customary to commemorate only those who were
properly martyrs, having suffered death in testimony
to their faith ; but it is not unsuitable if we regard as
martyrs all those who by their lives have testified to
the truth, as indeed we are justified in doing.

In the primitive Church it was customary for the

* *

* -*

xii Introduction

Holy Eucharist to be celebrated on the anniversary
of the death of a martyr if possible, on his tomb.
Where in one diocese there were several martyrs, as,
for instance, in that of Caesarea, there were many days
in the year on which these commemorations were made,
and the Church say that of Caesarea drew up a
calendar with the days marked on which these festivals

In his "Church History," Eusebius quotes a letter
from the Church of Smyrna, in which, after giving an
account of the martyrdom of their bishop, S. Polycarp,
the disciple of S. John the Divine, the Smyrnians
observe : " Our subtle enemy, the devil, did his utmost
that we should not take away the body, as many of us
anxiously wished. It was suggested that we should
desert our crucified Master, and begin to worship
Polycarp. Fools ! who knew not that we can never
desert Christ, who died for the salvation of all men,
nor worship any other. Him we adore as the Son
of God ; but we show respect to the martyrs, as His
disciples and followers. The centurion, therefore,
caused the body to be burned ; we then gathered his
bones, more precious than pearls, and more tried
than gold, and buried them. In this place, God
willing, we will meet, and celebrate with joy and glad-
ness the birthday of this martyr, as well in memory
of those who have been crowned before, as by his
example to prepare and strengthen others for the
combat." x

S. Polycarp suffered in the year 166; he had been
ordained Bishop of Smyrna by S. John in 96. This

1 Euseb., " Hist Eccl.," lib. iv., cap. xv.
* j

* -*l

Introduction xiii

passage is extremely interesting, for it shows us, in the
age following that of the apostles, the Church already
keeping the festivals of martyrs, and, as we may con-
clude from the words of the letter, over the tombs of
the martyrs. In this the Church was following the
pattern shown to S. John in vision ; for he heard the
cry of the souls of the martyrs reposing under the altar
in heaven. Guided, doubtless, by this, the Church
erected altars over the bodies of saints. Among the
early Christian writers there are two, S. Paulinus of
Nola, and Prudentius, whose testimony is of intrinsic
value, not only from its being curiously interesting, but
because it is so full and unequivocal as to the fact of
the tombs of the martyrs being used as altars. 1 In
one of his letters to Severus, S. Paulinus encloses
some verses of his own composition, which were to
be inscribed over the altar under which was deposited
the body of S. Clavus, of whom the venerable prelate

" Sancta sub seternis altaribus ossa quiescunt." 2

Before describing the basilica of Nola, the Saint
proceeds to give a sketch of another but a smaller
church, which he had just erected in the town of Fondi.
After furnishing some details about this latter edifice,
he says, "The sacred ashes some of the blessed
relics of the apostles and martyrs shall consecrate
this little basilica also in the name of Christ, the Saint
of saints, the Martyr of martyrs, and the Lord of

1 S. Paulinus was born a.d. 353, and elected Bishop of Nola A.D. 409.
Prudentius was born a.d. 348.

2 Ep. xii., ad Severum, " His holy bones 'neath lasting altars rest."

* "*

* _ ,

xiv Introduction

lords." * For this church two inscriptions were com-
posed by Paulinus : one, to accompany the painting
with which he had adorned the apse; the other, to
announce that portions of the relics of the Apostle
S. Andrew, of the Evangelist S. Luke, and of S.
Nazarius, and other martyrs, were deposited under
the altar. His verses may be thus rendered :

' In royal shrines, with purple marble graced,
Their bones are under lighted altars placed.
A holy band enshrined in one small chest,
Full mighty names within its tiny breast."

Prudentius visited not only the more celebrated
churches in Spain built over the bodies of the martyrs,
he being a Spaniard by birth, but he also visited those
of Italy and Rome on a journey made in 405. During
his residence in the capital of Christianity, the poet
frequented the catacombs; and he has bequeathed to
us a valuable record of what he there saw. In his
hymn in honour of S. Hippolytus, he tells us that he
visited the sepulchral chapel in which were deposited
the remains of the martyr ; and, after having described
the entrance into the cemetery, and the frescoes that
adorned it, he adds :

" In gloomy cave the martyr's corpse is placed,
And there to God with sacred altars graced,
To give the sacrament the board is spread,
And zealous guard the holy martyr's bed.
The bones are resting in this hallowed tomb,
To wait th' eternal Judge's gracious boon ;
And there with holy food are nourished those
Who call on Christ where tawny Tiber flows." 2

1 Ep. xii., ad Severum. 2 Hymn xi.
* >

* ,

Introduction xv

In his other hymns, Prudentius bears the most
unequivocal testimony to the practice, even then a long
time in use, of depositing the relics of the Saints
immediately under the altar. It is unnecessary to
quote more. The assertions of ancient writers on this
point have been several times verified. The bodies of
the martyrs have been discovered under the high altars
of the churches dedicated to God in their memory.
The body of S. Martina, together with those of two
other martyrs, SS. Concordens and Epiphanius, were
found in 1624 under the high altar of the ancient
church near the Roman Forum, which bears the
name of the Saint. The body of S. Agnes, and that
of another virgin martyr, were also ascertained to
be under the high altar of her church, denominated
Fuori delle Mura. These, however, had all been
removed from the Catacombs into Rome, within the

Now this fact being established, as well as that of
the annual commemoration of the Saint reposing in the
church, it follows that it became necessary for a Church
to draw up calendars marking those days in the year
which were consecrated to the memory of martyrs
whose relics were preserved in it ; for instance, in
the Church of Fondi, which contained relics of S.
Andrew, S. Luke, S. Nazarius, and others, the Holy
Eucharist would be celebrated over the relics on the
day of S. Andrew, on that of S. Luke, on that of
S. Nazarius, and so on ; and it would be necessary
for the Church to have a calendar of the days thus
set apart.

In the first centuries of the Church, not only the


* *

xvi Introduction

Saints whose bodies reposed in the church, but also
the dead of the congregation were commemorated.

When a Roman Consul was elected, on entering
on his office he distributed among his friends certain
presents, called diptychs. These diptychs were fold-
ing tablets of ivory or boxwood, sometimes of silver,
connected together by hinges, so that they could be
shut or opened like a book. The exterior surface
was richly carved, and generally bore a portrait of the
Consul who gave them away. Upon the inner surface
was written an epistle which accompanied the present,
or a panegyric on himself. They were reminders to
friends, given much as a Christmas card is now sent.
The diptych speedily came into use in the Church.
As the Consul on his elevation sent one to his friends
to remind them of his exaltation, so, on a death in the
congregation, a diptych was sent to the priest as a
reminder of the dead who desired the prayers of the
faithful. At first, no doubt, there was a pack of these
little memorials, each bearing the name of the person
who desired to be remembered at the altar. But, for
convenience, one double tablet was after a while
employed instead of a number, and all the names of
those who were to be commemorated were written in
this book. From the ancient liturgies we gather that
it was the office of the deacon to rehearse aloud, to
the people and the priest, this catalogue registered in
the public diptychs. In the " Ecclesiastical Hier-
archy," attributed to S. Dionysius the Areopagite, but
really of a later date, the end of the fifth century, the
author says of the ceremonies of the Eucharist, that
after the kiss of peace, "When all have reciprocally

* *

* *

Introduction xvii

saluted one another, there is made the mystic recitation
of the sacred tablets." x In the Liturgy of S. Mark we
have this, "The deacon reads the diptychs (or cata-
logue) of the dead. The priest then bowing down
prays : To the souls of all these, O Sovereign Lord
our God, grant repose in Thy holy tabernacle, in
Thy kingdom, bestowing on them the good things
promised and prepared by Thee," etc.

It is obvious that after a while the number of names
continually swelling would become too great to be
recited at once. It became necessary, therefore, to
take some names on one day, others on another. And
this originated the Necrologium, or catalogue of the
dead. The custom of reading the diptychs has ceased
to be observed in the Roman Liturgy, though we find
it indicated there by the " Oratio supra Diptycha."
At present, when the celebrating priest arrives at that
part of the Canon called the "Memento," he secretly
commemorates those for whose souls he more par-
ticularly wishes to pray.

But, in addition to the diptychs of those for whom
the priest and congregation were desired to pray, there
was the catalogue of the Martyrs and Saints for whom
the Church thanked God. For instance, in the modern
Roman Mass, in the Canon we have this commemora-
tion : "Joining in communion with, and reverencing,
in the first place, the memory of the glorious and ever-
virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord Jesus Christ ;
as also of Thy blessed apostles and martyrs, Peter and
Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip,
Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddaeus; Linus,

1 " Eccl. Hierarch.," cap. iii.

*. . X

xviii Introduction

Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurence,
Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and
of all Thy Saints," etc. This is obviously a mere frag-
ment of a commemoration of the Blessed Virgin, of the
apostles, and then of the special Roman martyrs. The
catalogue of the Saints to be remembered was long;
there were hundreds of martyrs at Rome alone, and
their names were written down on sacred diptychs
especially appropriated to this purpose. Such an in-
scription was equivalent to the present ceremony of
canonization. The term canonization itself tells the
history of the process. It is derived from that part
of the Mass called the Canon, in which occurs that
memorial already quoted. On the day when the
Pope, after a scrutinizing examination into the sanctity
of a servant of God, formally inscribes him among
the Saints, he adds his name at the end of those
already enumerated in the Canon, after " Cosmas
and Damian," and immediately reads Mass, adding
this name at this place. Formerly every bishop
could and did canonize that is, add the name of
any local Saint or martyr worthy of commemoration
in his diocese.

When the list became long, it was found impracti-
cable to commemorate all notninatim at once, and the
Saints were named on their special days. Thus, out
of one set of diptychs grew the Necrologium, and out
of the other the Martyrology.

The Church took pains to collect and commit to
writing the acts of the martyrs. This is not to be
wondered at; for the martyrs are the heroes of
Christianity, and as the world has her historians to

* *

* ,

Introduction xix

record the achievements of the warriors who have
gained renown in conflict for power, so the Church
had her officers to record the victories that her sons
won over the world and Satan. The Saints are the
elect children of the spouse of Christ, the precious
fruit of her body ; they are her crown of glory. And
when these dear children quit her to reap their
eternal reward, the mother retains precious memorials
of them, and holds up their example to her other
children to encourage them to follow their glorious

The first to institute an order of scribes to take
down the acts of the martyrs was S. Clement, the
disciple of S. Peter, as we are told by Pope S.
Damasus, in the "Liber Pontificale." x According to
this tradition, S. Clement appointed seven notaries,
men of approved character and learning, to collect in
the city of Rome, each in his own region of the city,
the acts of the martyrs who suffered in it. To add to
the guarantee of good faith, Pope S. Fabian 2 placed
these seven notaries under the control of the seven
subdeacons, who with the seven deacons were placed
over the fourteen cardinal regions of the city of Rome.
Moreover, the Roman Pontiffs obtained the acts of
martyrs who had suffered in other churches. These
acts were the proces verbal of their trial, with the
names of the judges under whom they were sentenced,
and an account of the death endured. The acts of
S. Philip of Heraclea, SS. Hilary and Tatian, and
SS. Peter, Paul, Andrew, and Dionysia, are examples

1 S. Damasus was born a.d. 304, and died a.d. 384.
a He died a.d. 250 ; see Ep. i.

* %

* *

xx Introduction

of such acts. Other acts were those written by eye-

Online LibraryS. (Sabine) Baring-GouldThe lives of the saints (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 38)