The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography (1907)
The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography
From the French of Père Hippolyte. Delehaye, S.J., Bollandist
Translated By V. M. Crawford
[Reprinted University of Notre Dame Press 1961
With an Introduction By Richard J. Schoeck]
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AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION ix
CHAPTER I. PRELIMINARY DEFINITIONS.
Hagiographic documents - Imaginative tales. Artificial compositions - Romances -
Popular inventions - Myths - Tales Legends - The hagiographic legend: its two principal
CHAPTER II. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEGEND.
I. Unconscious distortion of truth by the individual - By the people-Level of popular
intelligence - Tendency to simplification - Ignorance - Substitution of the abstract form
for the individual type - Poverty of invention - The borrowing and transmission of
legendary themes - Examples -The antiquity of certain themes - Artificial grouping of
incidents and persons -Cycles. 12
II Predominance of sense impressions over the intelligence - Localisations and
foot-prints - Literary origin of certain of these - Iconographic legends - Popular
etymology - Miracle - The soul of the people - Energy of expression Exaggerated
feeling-Ambitions of individual churches -- Morality of the mob - Local claims. 40
CHAPTER III. THE WORK OF THE HAGIOGRAPHER.
I. The meaning of the term "hagiographer" - Literary methods - Moralities -
Ancient ideas concerning history Special views of medieval hagiographers. 60
II. Sources-False attributions - Written tradition - Oral tradition-Pictorial
tradition-Relics of the past-Choice of sources - Interpretation of sources - Inscriptions
Use of the various categories of documents 70
III. Dearth of material and methods of supplementing it - Amplification by means of
stock incidents-Acts of St. Clement of Ancyra - Compilation and adaptation-Life of St.
Vincent Madelgarus - Antiquity of the process-Forgeries 91
CHAPTER IV. THE CLASSIFICATION OF HAGIOGRAPHIC TEXTS.
Defective system - Classification according to subjects -- According to categories of
saints- System adopted. Historical point of view - Division into six classes- Application
of system to Ruinart's Acta Sincera - The Supplements" of Le Blant. 107
CHAPTER V. THE "DOSSIER" OF A SAINT.
Documents concerning St. Procopius of Casarea - Account given by Eusebius - Monuments
testifying to the cultus -- The three legends of St. Procopius - Analysis of the three
legends - The synaxaries - Latin acts of St. Procopius Adaptations to St. Ephysius and to
St. John of Alexandria - Conclusions. 125
CHAPTER VI. PAGAN SURVIVALS AND REMINISCENCES.
1. Rites and symbols common to Christianity and to ancient religions - Suspicious
practices - Incubation - Collections of miracles - Literary borrowings from pagan sources
- Unavoidable analogies - Superstition 148
II. Saint-worship and hero-worship -The centre of hero-worship - Solemn
translations--Relics-Fortuitous coincidences 160
III. Pagan survivals in worship-Holy places-Christian transformations - Adaptation of
names - A method for ascertaining primitive titles - Sacred sources. 168
IV. Dates of festivals - Alteration of object - Difficulty of proving coincidences - A
method for ascertaining dates of pagan festivals - Examples. 178
V. Pagan legends-Christian adaptations - Three cases to be considered-Examples: Legend
of St. Lucian of Antioch -Legend of St. Pelagia and allied legends- St. Livrada . 186
VI. Mythological names - Other auspicious names - Iconographic parallels - The Blessed
Virgin - "Saints on horseback." 207
CHAPTER VII. CONCERNING CERTAIN HAGIOGRAPHIC HERESIES.
Direct relation established between the history of a saint and his legend - Exaggerated
confidence in hagiographers -considered appeals to local tradition - Confusion between a
probable and a truthful narrative - Excessive importance attributed to the topographical
element - Legend held in utter contempt. 214
INDEX . 233
RECENT progress in scientific hagiography has given rise to move than one
misunderstanding. Historical criticism when applied to the lives of the saints has had
certain results which are in no way surprising to those who are accustomed to handle
documents and to interpret inscriptions, but which have had a somewhat disturbing effect
on the mind of the general public.
Religious-minded people who regard with equal veneration not only the saints themselves
but everything associated with them, have been greatly agitated by certain conclusions
assumed by them to have been inspired by the revolutionary spirit that has penetrated even
into the Church, and to be highly derogatory to the honour of the heroes of our faith.
This conviction frequently finds utterance in somewhat violent terms.
If you suggest that the biographer of a saint has been unequal to his task, or that he
has not professed to write as a historian, you are accused of attacking the saint himself,
who, it appears, is too powerful to allow himself to be compromised by an indiscreet
If, again, you venture to express doubt concerning certain miraculous incidents
repeated by the author on insufficient evidence, although well-calculated to enhance the
glory of the saint, you are at once suspected of lack of faith.
You are told you are introducing the spirit of rationalism into history, as though in
questions of fact it were not above all things essential to weigh the evidence. How often
[x] has not an accusation of destructive criticism been flung, and men treated as
iconoclasts, whose sole object has been to appraise at their true value the documents
which justify our attitude of veneration, and who are only too happy when able to declare
that one of God's friends has been fortunate enough to find a historian worthy of his
One might have thought that this simple analysis of the attitude of suspicion which so
many devout souls assume in regard to historical criticism would suffice to demonstrate
the injustice of their prejudices. Unhappily, it is less easy than might be supposed to
efface an impression which, as they think, can only have been inspired by piety.
The conditions under which so many accounts of martyrs and lives of saints have been
put together are, as a rule, too little known for any common ground of criticism to be
available. Many readers are not sufficiently on their guard against the vague sentiment
which endows hagiographers with some mysterious privilege of immunity from the errors of
human frailty to which all other categories of writers are liable.
We therefore believe that we shall be doing a useful work if we try to classify, more
definitely than has been done hitherto, the various methods pursued by pious writers, to
sketch in broad outline the genesis of their compositions, and to show how far they are
from being protected against errors which exact history is bound to denounce.
It may, perhaps, be as well to warn the reader from the first against an impression
that might be gathered from a study which is mainly devoted to the weak points of
To give assistance in detecting materials of inferior workmanship is not to deny the
excellence of what remains, and it is to the ultimate advantage of the harvest to point
out the tares that have sometimes become mingled with the wheat to a most disconcerting
The simple narrative of heroic days, written, as it were, with pens dipped in the blood
of martyrs, the naive histories, sweet with the perfume of true piety, in which [xi]
eyewitnesses relate the trials of virgins and of ascetics, deserve our fullest admiration
For that very reason they must be clearly differentiated from the extensive class of
painfully-elaborated biographies in which the features of the saint are hidden by a heavy
veil of rhetoric, and his voice overborne by that of his chronicler. There is an infinite
distance between these two classes of literature. The one is well known, and its own
merits recommend it. The other too often passes undetected and prejudices the first.
It must surely be admitted that from this simple task of classification, the need for
which we are anxious to demonstrate, it is a far cry to that work of destruction which we
may be suspected of having embarked upon.
Moreover, if we recommend any one who feels drawn to hagiographic studies to plunge
boldly into the realm of criticism, we should advise no one to advance blindfold, neither
have we dreamed of disguising the fact that by misapplying methods of research, however
efficacious they may be in themselves, there is danger of being led to quite inadmissible
It is easy to satisfy oneself on this point by glancing through the chapter in which we
have discussed the questions touching upon mythological exegesis, so much in vogue at the
present day. Certain brilliant displays which have taken place in that arena have dazzled
a public more preoccupied with the novelty of the conclusions than with their
trustworthiness. It has been our duty to lay down the necessary limitations, and to show
how they may best be observed.
We do not profess to have written a complete treatise on hagiography. Many points which
may suggest themselves to the reader have not even been touched upon, and we make no
pretension of having exhausted any one of the subjects of which we have treated.
The quotations and examples might have been multiplied almost indefinitely. We believe
ourselves justified, however, in resisting the temptation to impress the reader by a cheap
display of erudition, and in avoiding everything that might have encumbered our exposition
without adding [xii] anything to the force of the argument.
To indicate briefly the spirit in which hagiographic texts should be studied, to lay
down the rules for discriminating between the materials that the historian can use and
those that he should hand over as their natural property to artists and poets, to place
people on their guard against the fascination of formulas and preconceived systems, such
has been the aim of this volume.
Controversy - an evil counsellor - has been banished as far as may be from this little
book. Nevertheless we shall occasionally be compelled to call attention to other people's
mistakes. Defective methods, alas, frequently take shelter behind names of the highest
credit, and sometimes, when attacking erroneous views, one may give the impression of
attacking persons. For the critic it is a real cause for regret that in the thick of the
fight blows sometimes fall on those at whom they were not aimed. Let it be understood,
once and for all, that we have aimed at nobody.
Some chapters of this study first appeared in the Revue des Questions historiques (July, 1903). We have slightly revised and completed them in a few places. Except for two
or three unimportant additions, this new edition of the book is simply a reprint of the
first, which appeared in March, 1905.
Hagiographic documents - Imaginative tales. Artificial
compositions - Romances- Popular inventions
- Myths- Tales-Legends - The hagiographic legend: its two principal factors.
Let us, in the first instance, attempt to define what precisely is to be understood by
a hagiographic document.
The term should not be applied indiscriminately to every document bearing upon the
saints. The chapter in which Tacitus in vivid hues paints the sufferings of the first
Roman martyrs is not a hagiographic document, nor can the expression be rightly applied to
those pages of Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History across which the victims of the great
persecutions defile in serried ranks. It was Eusebius, too, who composed, in four volumes,
a panegyric of the first Christian emperor who, in the Greek Church, participates in the
honours reserved to the canonised saints. Nevertheless the Life of Constantine is not a
saint's life, whereas the book of the Martyrs of Palestine, written with the object of
edifying the faithful by an account of the sufferings of these heroes is at once a
hagiographic document and an historic record of the first order. So too the Acts of St.
Theodore, which in their present form possess  nothing in common with history, should,
from the standpoint of hagiography, enjoy similar consideration. In the same class again,
though under a special category, we may range the calendars or martyrologies in which the
anniversaries of martyrs are recorded, together with official inscriptions, such as those
of Pope Damasus, placed upon their tombs.
It thus appears that, in order to be strictly hagiographic, the document should be of a
religious character and should aim at edification. The term may only be applied therefore
to writings inspired by devotion to the saints and intended to promote it.
The point to be emphasised from the first is the distinction between hagiography and
history. The work of the hagiographer may be historical, but it is not necessarily so. It
may assume any literary form suitable to the glorification of the saints, from an official
record adapted to the use of the faithful, to a poetical composition of the most exuberant
character wholly detached from reality.
It is obvious that no one would venture to assert that everywhere and at all times
hagiographers have submitted themselves to strict historical canons. But by what standard
must we measure their digressions? That is a point to be determined in each individual
case. Before attempting to suggest any rules on this subject, let us begin by laying down
a few definitions less familiar than might at first sight be supposed.
In order to describe any narrative which is not in accordance with fact, a free use is
made of the terms myth, fable, tale, romance, legend. Taken in a general sense these words
are frequently used as though they were synonymous. The result has been a constant 
confusion of thought which we shall hope to avoid by a more rigorous definition of
 The following are the tides of works dealing with this question,
which we give without questioning the conclusions of the authors, who do not always agree
among themselves. J. F. L. George, Mythus und Sage, Berlin, 1837. J. Fiske, Myths
and Myth-makers, London, 1873. H. Steinthal, Mythos, Sage, Märchen, Legende,
Erzählung, Fabel, in the Zeitschrift fur Volkerspsychologie und Sprachwissenschaft,
vol. xvii., 1865, pp. 113-39. E. Bernheim, Lehrbuch der historischen Methode, 3rd
edition, Leipzig, 1903, pp. 317, 349, 45768. E. Siecke, Mythologische Briefe,
Berlin, 1901. E. Betbe, Mythus, Sage, Märchen, in Hessische Blätter für
Volkskunde, 1905, pp. 97-142. [Fr. Lanzoni, Genesi, svolgimento e tramonto delle
leggende storiche, Rome, 1925 (Studi e Testi, 43).]
We need, however, scarcely discuss the fable, which, in its widest sense, may be held
to include any imaginary narrative, and in its more restricted acceptation is synonymous
with the apologue, more especially when the persons brought upon the scene are represented
by animals. This does not mean that hagiographers have wholly neglected this form of
imaginative composition. The author of the Life of SS. Barlaam and Joasaph has
incorporated into his compilation various apologues which have been the subject of
individual studies.[] Nevertheless these are exceptions, and the critic of hagiography
need not, as a rule, trouble himself about the emulators of Aesop and La Fontaine.
 S. J. Warren, De Grieksch christelijke roman Barlaam en Joasa en
ziine parabels, Rotterdam, 1899, in 4to, 56 pp.
Myths, tales, legends and romances all belong to the sphere of imaginative writing, but
may be divided into two categories, according as they are the spontaneous and impersonal
expression of the spirit of the people, or artificial and deliberate compositions.
Romances, in the more usual acceptation of the term, belong to this second category.
The author selects and studies his subject, and applies the resources of  his talent
and his imagination to the work of art he has conceived. If he has chosen for his theme
the character and adventures of an historical person or of a period of history, he will
produce an historical romance. If everything, both characters and incidents, is pure
invention it will be a novel of imagination; and if, by means of a series of incidents,
partly true, partly fictitious, the author has attempted to depict the soul of a saint
honoured by the Church, we ought to speak of his work as a hagiographic romance, although
the expression is one that has scarcely passed into common use.
Romances of this type are exceedingly numerous, and a few of them date back to very
early times.[] One might instance the Acts of Paul and of Thecla, and that collection
of the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles which enjoyed such long and extraordinary
popularity. The romance of the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions is widely known, its
main portions figuring for a prolonged period in all the most celebrated hagiographic
 An interesting account is to be found in E. von Dobschütz, Der
Roman in der altchristlichen Literatur in the Deutsche Rundschau, April, 1902,
 H. U. Meyboom, De Clemens-Roman, Gröningen, 1904, 2 vols. Concerning this
work and the most recent studies on the Clementines, see Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
xxiv., pp. 138-41.
Tales and legends, to which reference must now be made, should not, strictly speaking,
be placed in the category of artificial compositions. It is true that the name of tale is
frequently bestowed upon short works of fiction, and the novelist sometimes devotes
himself in his study to the composition of a narrative of which the form recalls
the legend or tale properly so called. These learned imitations need only be mentioned
here;  it is unnecessary to dwell on them further. We must reserve our attention for
those works of fiction which have come down to us without any individual parentage, being
the anonymous product of that abstraction known as the spirit of the people.
Let us first consider the myth. The term is frequently applied to anything that
has no real existence, while the title of mythical personage is bestowed upon any hero who
has lived solely in the imagination of the poet. Such, however, is not the technical
meaning of the word, and it would be wrong to class as mythical personages figures such as
Abner in Athalie, although the confidant of Joad was wholly invented by Racine.
The essence of the myth consists in the personification of a force or of an abstract
idea; or, if you prefer it, the myth is simply an explanation of natural phenomena adapted
to the capacity of a primitive people.[] Whether we insist on treating it as a poetic
symbol or whether, as has been ingeniously suggested, we should prefer to regard mythology
as a treatise on physics for primitive times, it is none the less certain that natural
phenomena supply the proper matter for the myth. The sun, the moon, the stars, lightning,
the succession of night and day and the vicissitudes of the  seasons are represented by
gods and heroes, and by the adventures attributed to them. Aurora, with rosy fingers,
opens the portals of the Orient, Phaeton drives the chariot of the sun: such are the
graceful fables with which the study of antiquity has familiarised us.
 M. S. Reinach in La Revue Critique (3rd June, 1905, p. 425)
questions this definition of a myth. "A myth," he says, "is essentially a
story which humanity has believed to be true at a particular stage of its intellectual
development." This formula appears to us too vague to serve as a definition. M.
Reinach may have more reason on his side when he adds: "To attempt to draw a rigorous
distinction, as the author has done, between the myth on the one side and the legend and
tale on the other, is to demand from words a precision which they are unable to
supply". The definition that we have adopted, being on the whole, the one most
commonly accepted by specialists, we may perhaps be permitted the use of it in order to
I do not wish to multiply examples, for before classifying a narrative it is essential
to ascertain definitely its real significance, and were we to follow the methods of a
certain school there would be very few works of fiction that could not be included under
the category of mythology. There are men, so an ill-tempered critic has declared, who
cannot even watch a cat and dog fight without some reference to the struggle between
darkness and light. The exaggerations denounced in this sally are only too real, and we
shall be careful not to make use of the term myth without solid reason.
Is there such a thing as a hagiographic myth? Or have the hagiographers made use of
mythical elements ? I see no difficulty in admitting it, and shall show later on that they
have transferred to the saints more than one narrative which belongs to ancient mythology.
The tale proper is an invented story referring neither to a real personage nor yet to
any definite place. " Once upon a time there were a king and queen who had a very
beautiful daughter. . . ." This classical beginning of the story-teller [] is
exactly characteristic of its style, in which everything is made accessory to the plot of
the narrative, intended solely for the entertainment of the listener, or calculated to set
in relief some practical truth as in the case of moral tales.
 This is almost literally the opening phrase of Apuleius in Cupid
and Psyche: "Erant in quadarn civitate rex et regina. Hi tres numero filias forma
conspicuas habuere," Met., iv., 28.
 Contrary to what one would imagine, there exists no great variety of popular tales.
All may be traced back to a certain number of types, none of which appears to belong
exclusively to a particular nation or even race; they are the common patrimony of
Much has been written concerning their origin.[] Without entering into a detailed
study of the various theories propounded by specialists, mention must be made of two
principal ones which have won more favour than the rest, and which may be considered as
extreme solutions. Some explain the repetition of the same themes and the similarity in
their forms by the uniformity of the human mind. Others take refuge in a less simple and
less metaphysical explanation, which coincides more nearly with ascertained facts.
According to them India is the one and only cradle of all popular tales disseminated
throughout the whole world [] and whatever one may like to assume concerning their
original author, they had their birth there and thence set out on their travels to become
in the widest sense the common possession of all nations. It is in  no way necessary to
commit ourselves here to any theory of the first origin of popular tales. We need only
remember that, like those light seeds that the wind carries beyond the seas, they are for
ever floating in the atmosphere, and may be found in every country and every clime without
their being connected in any definite way with either name or place.
 Emmanuel Cosquin, Contes Populaires de Lorraine, vol. i., Paris,
1886, i.4xvii.; id., L'Origine des contes populaires européens et les théories de M.
Lang, Paris, 1891; id., Quelques observations sur les "Incidents communs aux
contes orientaux," London, 1892. M. Cosquin is a definite partisan of the
Orientalist theory, which has been combated more especially by M. J. Bidier, Les
fabliauxBibliotheque de 1'École des Hautes Études, vol. 98, Paris, 1893, pp. 45-250.
Concerning other systems and their variations, the following may be consulted: Ch.
Martens, L'origine des Contes populaires in the Revue Néo-Scolastique, vol. i., 1894, pp. 234-62, 352-84. L. Sainéan, L'état actuel des études de Folk-lore in
the Revue de Synthèse historique, vol. iv., 1902, pp. 147-74. [In the 3d ed.
Delehaye deletes the citation of Sainéan and in its place cites: G. Huet, Les contes
populaires, Paris, 1923, 189 pp.]
 Among the advocates of the Orientalist theory, there are some who regard Egypt as
the birthplace of popular tales. See, for instance, S. Reinach in the Revue d'histoire
et de littérature religieuses, vol. ix., 1904, pp. 319-20. We cannot discuss the
The legend, on the other hand, has, of necessity, some historical or
topographical connection. It refers imaginary events to some real personage, or it
localises romantic stories in some definite spot. Thus one may speak of the legend of
Alexander or of Caesar, of the legend of the Castle of the Drachenfels on the Rhine, or of
that of the Red Lake, Lough Derg, in Ireland. Such, in accordance with common usage, is
the precise meaning of the terms we have to employ.
It must, however, be observed that in practice classification is less easy, and the
various categories are less clearly differentiated. One of these winged tales which fly
from nation to nation may for a moment settle on some famous monument, or the anonymous
king who was the principal personage may take to himself some historic name. At once the
tale is transformed into a legend, and one might easily be misled if some other version of
the same story did not reveal the purely accidental introduction of the historical
element.[] In the  same way the myth itself may also readily assume the appearance
of a legend.
 In certain cases the various disguises are easy to recognize, as in
the stories in which Jesus Christ and St. Peter are brought on the scene. Here, for
example, is a legend of the Basque country, chronicled by Cerquand: "Our Lord and St.
Peter one day, when out walking, came across a man kneeling in the middle of the road and
praying to God to extricate his cart from the ditch into which it had fallen. As Jesus was
passing on without paying any attention to the carter's prayer, St. Peter said to Him,
'Lord, wilt thou not come to the help of this poor man?" 'He does not deserve our
help,' Jesus replied, 'for he makes no effort to help himself.' A little farther on they
came upon another man in similar plight, but shouting and swearing and doing his utmost.
Jesus hastened to his assistance, saying: 'This one deserves our help for he is doing what
he can'." Every one is familiar with this incident as told by the fabulist concerning
Hercules. See R. Köhler, Kleine Schriften, Berlin, 1900, vol. ii., pp. 102-4.
Consult also the admirable apologue: "Why men no longer know when they are going to
die," ibid., pp. 100-2.
On the other hand, if you despoil the legend of all that connects it with reality, you
give it the external features of a mere tale. Hence the difficulty of disentangling legend
and tale in the celebrated collection of the Arabian Nights, for in spite of the
highly fantastic character of the stories that compose it, portions have been identified
with some sort of historical basis.[] Contrariwise it may occur that what is apparently
a highly distinctive legend will suddenly re-appear in the guise of a folk tale. It was a
long time before men recognised an adaptation of the celebrated tale of the ass's skin in
the legend of Saint Dymphna, or before the touching history of Genevi6ve de Brabant[]
proved to be a theme which had previously been turned to account by the epic poets of
1 M. J. de Goeje, De Arabisohe Nachtvertellingen in De Gids, 1886,
vol. iii., pp. 383-413.
2 Acta SS., May, vol. iii, pp. 479-86.
3 On the variations and derivatives of this story see H. Suchier, Oeuvres poétiques
de Beaumanoir, Société des anciens textes Français, vol. i., 1884, pp. xxv.-lxxxi.,
clx. Marie de Brabant, whose story is identical has been the object of ecclesiastical
veneration. Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., p. 180; April, vol. i., p. 57.
As we have just seen, legends, considered as connected narrations, in contradistinction
to myths and tales, presuppose an historical fact as basis or pretext: such is the first
essential element of the species. This historical fact may either be developed or
disfigured by popular imagination : and here we have the second element. Both elements may
be combined in very unequal proportions, and according as the preponderance is to be found
on the side of fact or on that of fiction, the narrative may be classed as history or as
As it is the fictitious element which determines the classification of legendary
narratives, people have naturally formed the habit of applying to it the name of the
species itself, and thus the term legend has been extended to every unconscious distortion
of historic truth, whether there be question of a series of incidents or of a solitary
However we interpret the term, it seems scarcely worth while to insist on the
considerable part played by legend in hagiographic literature, which is emphatically
popular both in its origins and in its aim. Indeed it is from hagiography that the name
itself has been borrowed. In its primitive meaning the legend is the history that has to
be read, legenda, on the feast of a saint. It is the passion of the martyr or the
eulogy of the confessor, without reference to its historical value. " Legendarius
vocatur liber ille ubi agitur de vita et obitu confessorum, qui legitur in eorum festis,
martyrum autern in Passionariis," wrote John Beleth,[] in the twelfth century,
thus differentiating the passion from the legend, contrary to the custom that was
subsequently to prevail. For, as early as the thirteenth century, the Legenda Aurea sanctioned the wider meaning which includes at once the acts of the martyrs and the
biographies of other saints. We  might, therefore, in conformity with ancient usage,
bestow the term legend upon all hagiographic narratives, including even those of admitted
documentary value. Nevertheless, to avoid confusion in the following pages, we shall
rigidly refrain from doing so, and the word legend will only be applied to stories or
incidents unauthenticated by history.
 De divinis officiis, 60; Migne, P. L., Vol. ccii., p. 66. See also
E. von Dobschiltz, art. "Legende," in the Realencyklopaedie für
Protestantische Theologie, 3rd edition, Vol. xi., p. 345.
Hagiographic literature has come to be written under the influence of two very distinct
factors, factors to be met with, indeed, in whatever stream of literary productiveness we
seek to trace to its source. There is, first, the anonymous creator called the people or,
if we prefer to take the effect for the cause, the legend. Here the work is that of a
mysterious and many-headed agent, uncontrolled in his methods, swift and unfettered as the
imagination always is, perpetually in labour with fresh products of his fancy, but
incapable of chronicling them in writing. Beside him there is the man of letters, the
editor, who stands before us as one condemned to a thankless task, compelled to follow a
beaten track, but giving to all he produces a deliberate and durable character. Both
together have collaborated in that vast undertaking known as 11 The Lives of the
Saints," and it is important for us to recognise the part played by each in this
process of evolution, which, though the work of all time, is yet incessantly renewed.
It is our intention to restrict ourselves almost exclusively to the pious literature of
the Middle Ages, and we shall seek to prove how it was elaborated by the people on the one
side and the hagiographers on the other. The methods pursued both by the one and the other
may appear to some people to be not yet wholly a thing of the past. It is an opinion which
we ourselves are not prepared to controvert.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEGEND.
Unconscious distortion of truth by the individual - By the
people - Level of popular intelligence - Tendency to simplification -
Ignorance - Substitution of the abstract form for the individual type - Poverty of
invention - The borrowing and transmission
of legendary themes - Examples - The antiquity of certain themes - Artificial grouping of
incidents and persons-Cycles.
The development of the legend is, according to our definition, the outcome of an
unconscious or unreflecting agent acting upon historical material. It is the introduction
of the subjective element into the realm of fact.
If, the day after a battle, we were to collect the narratives of eye-witnesses, we
should find the action described in twenty different ways while identical details would be
related from the most diverse points of view with the same accent of sincerity. The extent
of his information, the sentiments and impressions of the narrator and the camp to which
he belongs, all affect his account, which is neither wholly false nor yet wholly in
accordance with truth. Every man will relate his own legend. The combined result of these
divergent narratives will again be a legend, and should we insist on disentangling the
pure historic truth, we shall have to content ourselves with the two or three salient
facts that appear to be established with certainty.  If, in lieu of the remainder, we
substitute a series of deductions, we are merely writing the history of the battle in our
own way; in fact, we ourselves then become the creators of a new legend, and we must
either resign ourselves to this necessity or elect to remain in ignorance.
Every one is agreed as to the special difficulty of giving a precise account of any
complicated action that cannot be taken in at a glance. It must not however, be assumed
that putting aside these exceptional cases there is nothing more easy or more common than
to give a faithful description. The truth is that in daily life we are perpetually taking
part in that unconscious labour from which legends are evolved, and each one of us has had
occasion to testify a hundred times over how difficult it is to convey, with absolute
precision, our impression of any complex incident.
To begin with, it is very rare to grasp the event in all its details, and to trace the
connection between the various parts. It is still more rare for us to be in a position to
distinguish the causes in such a way as to leave no possible doubt concerning the motives
that have prompted the actors. Consequently we allow our instinct to fill in the gaps in
our information. By a series of intuitive connections we re-establish the continuity of
action, and we read our own interpretation into the forces that have brought about such
and such a result. If we happen to be under the empire of passion or of any sentiment that
clouds our clear view of things, if we secretly desire that any established fact should
not have occurred, or that any unnoted circumstance should really have taken place if it
coincides with our wishes that the actors should have followed any special impulse, it may
occur that, heedlessly, we leave one  portion of the picture in the shade, or give
undue prominence to another, according as our own prepossessions suggest. Unless,
therefore, we submit our arguments to a rigid supervision and maintain complete control
over our impressions, we are liable, to the detriment of truth, to introduce a strong
subjective element into our narrative. To give an exact description of complex reality
demands not only sound sense and a trained judgment but also conscious effort, and
consequently requires a stimulus adequate to the object in view.
It must be admitted that apart from exceptional circumstances the average man is not
endowed with the intellectual vigour necessary for such a task. The habit of analysing
one's sensations and of controlling the slightest impulses of ones soul to such an extent
as to be habitually on ones guard against the natural tendency to mingle what one imagines
with what one knows, is the privilege of very few. Even those who, thanks to natural gifts
and a superior training, rise above the average of their fellows, do not invariably make
use of their special faculties.
Let me suppose that a man has been an eyewitness of some sanguinary drama. He will
describe the various exciting circumstances to his friends with the most minute details,
and nothing will appear to have escaped him that bears upon the criminal and his victim.
But suppose this same man subpoenaed to give evidence at the assizes, and that on his
deposition, given on oath, depends the life of a fellow-creature. What a difference
between the two versions of the same event! At once his narrative becomes less clear and
less complete, and is far from possessing that palpitating interest that he gave to it in
private. This is  simply because, under such solemn circumstances, we carry to a far
higher point our scrupulous exactitude, and we are no longer tempted to indulge in the
petty vanity of posing as important and well-informed. Hence it is that even the most
veracious and upright of men unconsciously create little legends by introducing into their
narratives their own impressions, deductions and passions, and thus present the truth
either embellished or disfigured according to circumstances.
These sources of error, it need scarcely be said, become multiplied with the number of
intermediaries. Every one in turn understands the story in a different fashion and repeats
it in his own way. Through inattention or through defective memory some one forgets to
mention an important circumstance, necessary to the continuity of the history. A narrator,
more observant than the rest, notes the deficiency, and by means of his imagination does
his best to repair it. He invents some new detail, and suppresses another until
probability and logic appear to him sufficiently safe-guarded. This result is usually only
obtained at the expense of truth, for the narrator does not observe that he has
substituted a very different story for the primitive version. Sometimes again the
narrative may pass through the hands of a witness who does not wholly approve of it, and
who will not fail to contribute markedly to its disfigurement by some imperceptible turn
of thought or expression.
These things happen every day, and whether we are eye-witnesses or mere intermediaries,
our limited intelligence, our carelessness, our passions, and above all perhaps our
prejudices, all conspire against historical accuracy when we take it upon ourselves to
 This commonplace experience becomes much more interesting and more fraught
with consequences when it is indefinitely multiplied, and when, for the intelligence and
impressions of the individual we substitute the intelligence and impressions of a people
or a crowd. These collective, and, in a certain sense, abstract faculties, are of a quite
special nature, and their activities are subjected to laws that have been deeply studied
in our own day, and to which a special branch of psychology has been assigned.[] Such
laws as have been formulated have been verified by thousands of examples drawn from the
popular literature of every country. Hagiographic literature offers a large mass of
material amply confirming them.
 Lazarus und Steinthal, Zeitschrift für Völkerspsychologie und
Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin, Leipzig, i., 1860 - xix., 1889. A book by G. le Bon, Psychologie
des Foules, Paris, 1895, treated from a very special point of view, contains, together
with notable exaggerations, some useful remarks.
To avoid complicating the question we shall not attempt to apportion the varying
degrees of capacity of different social strata. No task, indeed, would be more difficult,
and in regard to the matters that interest us the most varied elements have to be taken
into account. In the Middle Ages the whole populace was interested in the saints. Every
one invoked them, paid them honour and loved to sing their praises. Popular society in
which the legends were elaborated was composed of many elements, and by no means excluded
persons of literary pretensions. I hasten to add that the saints gained nothing thereby.
The intellectual capacity of the multitude reveals itself on all sides as exceedingly
limited, and it would be a mistake to assume that it usually submits itself to the
influence of superior minds. On the contrary, the  latter necessarily suffer loss from
contact with the former, and it would be quite illogical to attribute a special value to a
popular tradition because it had its origin amid surroundings in which persons of solid
merit were to be met with. In a crowd superiority quickly vanishes, and the average
intelligence tends to fall far below mediocrity. The best point of comparison by which we
can ascertain its level is the intelligence of a child.
In truth, the number of ideas of which the popular brain is capable of receiving any
impression is extremely small, and these ideas must be very simple. Equally simple are its
deductions, which it arrives at by means of a small number of intuitive principles, and
which are frequently little more than loosely connected conceptions or pictures.
The artless nature of popular genius betrays itself clearly in the legends it creates.
Thus the number of personages and of events of which it preserves any remembrance is few
indeed ; its heroes never exist side by side, but succeed each other, and the latest
inherits all the greatness of his predecessors.
Antiquity has bequeathed to us many famous examples of this phenomenon of absorption.
The struggles of many centuries concentrated themselves under the walls of Troy, while
Solon and Lycurgus bear off the honours of a prolonged legislative evolution at Athens and
in Sparta.[] In less remote times it is Alexander,  Caesar and Charlemagne []
who, in their respective lands, fire the popular imagination, and on the heads of these
chosen heroes all the honours accumulate. Brilliant feats of arms which rouse enthusiasm
are attributed to the national hero, public benefits are all due to him, and everything of
note throughout the country is in some way connected with his name.
 Concerning this and similar examples consult Wachsmuth, Über die
Quellen der Geschichtstf:aschung (Berichte iber die Verhandlungen der K. Sächsischen
GeselIschaft der Wissenschatten zu Leipzig), Phil.-Hist. Classe, vol. viii., 1856, pp.
121-53. It is worth remembering that legends of a similar nature are growing up in our own
day. "Legend has transformed the Civil Code into the principles Of the Revolution
expressed in two thousand articles by order of the First Consul. In this summary of
history the code is no longer the outcome of centuries of effort by king and parliament,
and by the citizens in their communes and corporations; there survives only the thought of
the Emperor; it is the Code Napoleon," H. Leroy, Le centenaire du Code civil in
the Revue de Paris, 1Ist October, 1903.
 Concerning the legend of Alexander consult P. Meyer, Alexandre le grand dans la
littérature française du moyen âge in the Bibliothèque française du moyen
âge, vol. iv., Paris, 1886; J. Darmesteler, La légende d'Alexandre chez les
Perses in the Bibliothèque de l'École des Hautes Études, vol. 35, Paris,
1878, pp. 83-99; J. Levi, La 1égende d' Alexandre dans le Talmud in the Revue
des Études Juives, vol. ii., 1881, p. 203; vol, vii., p. 78; Mélusine, vol. v.,
pp. 116-18; S. S. Hoogstra, Proza-bewerkingen van het Leven van Alexander den Groote in
het Middelnederlandsch, The Hague, 1898, pp. i.-xxiii.; Fr. Kampers, Alexander der
Grosse und die Idee des Weltimperiums in Prophetie und Sage, Freiburg im Breisgau,
1901. Concerning the Caesar legend consult A. and G. Doutrepont, La légende de César
en Belgique in the IIIème Congres des Savants Catholiques, vol. v., Brussels,
1894, pp. 80-108. On Charlemagne, see G. Paris, Histoire poétique de Charlemagne, Paris,
1865; E. Müntz, La 1égende de Charlemagne dans l'art au moyen Ige in Romania,
vol. xiv., 1883 p., 320.
Were we to believe what legend tells us there is scarcely in the whole town of
Alexandria a single stone that was not laid by Alexander the Great himself [] Since the
day when Tiberius turned the rock of Capri into the scene of his debaucheries he has
become, so to speak, a tutelary genius whose beneficent hand has left traces of its
activity in every corner of the isle.[]
 G. Lumbroso, L'Egitto del Greci e dei Romani, 2nd edition,
Rome, 1895, p. 157.
 Maxime Du Camp, Orient et Italie, Paris, 1968, pp. 13, 60, 74.
 It is obvious that this custom of accumulating on a single head all the glories of
preceding heroes affects very markedly the true proportions of the persons concerned. The
splendour of the apotheosis is sometimes such that the hero entirely loses his true
physiognomy and emerges in complete disguise. Thus Virgil, having become the idol of the
Neapolitans, ceased to be the inspired poet in order to be converted into the governor of
the city.[] Local tradition at Sulmona has transformed Ovid into everything that he was
not: a clever magician, a rich merchant, a prophet, a preacher, a sort of paladin, and-who
would believe it ?-a great saint.[]
 This subject has been exhaustively treated by D. Comparetti, Virgilio
nel medio evo, 2nd edition, Florence, 1896, 2 vols. 8vo.
 A. De Nino, Ovidio nella tradizione popolare di Sulmona, Casalbordino, 1886,
Historic truth is put wholly out of court on these occasions, for it is an understood
thing that the really popular hero plays a part in all important events; that nothing
generous, noble or useful can be accomplished without the intervention of the great man
who monopolises the sympathies of the populace. In the religious sphere the idol of all
hearts is the saint specially venerated in the district. Here, it is St. Martin whose name
crops up at every turn; there, St. Patrick[] The enthusiasm of the people has not
failed to enlarge the sphere of their activities, including among these a number of
incidents detached from their historic setting, or despoiling, for their benefit, the
eclipsed heroes of an earlier stage of development.
 Bulliot, La mission et le culte de St. Martin d'après les
légendes ef les monuments populaires dans le pays Éduen, Autun, 1892; Shearman, Loca
Patriciana, Dublin, 1879; W. G. Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland, London, 1902 , vol. i., pp. 163, 245; vol. ii., pp. 20, 88.
 Above all, do not expect the populace to distinguish between namesakes. Great men
are so rare! What likelihood is there that there should have lived two of the same name?
It is this sort of reasoning which has persuaded the inhabitants of Calabria that St
Louis, on his return from the first Crusade, sojourned in several of their towns, whereas,
in truth, he never set foot in the district The king Louis who passed through the
Neapolitan provinces with the remains of his army of Crusaders was Louis VII. When the
canonisation of Louis IX. had cast into the shade the memory of all his predecessors, it
became quite natural to substitute him for the other Louis in the popular memory.[] In
the same way, by the simple force of attraction, as early as the fourth century, incidents
borrowed from the life of Cyprian of Antioch became interpolated in that of Cyprian of
Carthage.[] It was almost inevitable that the illustrious martyr should inherit from
the earlier and more obscure Cyprian. In the same way Alexander the Great and Charlemagne
absorbed the achievements of all their namesakes.[]
 F. Lenormant, À travers l'Apulie et la Lucanie, Paris, 1883,
vol. i., p. 323.
 Witnesses to this confusion are St. Gregory Nazianzen, Prudentius and Macarius of
Magnesia. See Th. Zahn, Cyprian von Antiochien, Erlangen, 1882, p. 84. [This
sentence and the following, together with this footnote, are deleted in the 3d ed.]
 It is well known that Alexander the Great has had the credit of the foundations of
Alexander Severus, and that the name of Charlemagne has. absorbed many incidents
attributed by history to Charles Martel. P. Rajna, Le origini dell' epopea francese, Florence,
1884, p. 199.
It may be seen from this that the populace is never disturbed, as we are, by
chronological difficulties. No one, for instance, was startled by hearing it read out that
St Austremonius, in the reign of the Emperor Decius, was sent to Auvergne by St. Clement.
[] To  the popular mind it was perfectly natural that, in the same early days,
there should have been both dukes and counts; and why should any one have suspected that
it was an anachronism to bestow the title of archdeacon on St. Stephen and St. Lawrence,
who certainly were very far from being mere ordinary deacons?
 Acta SS., November, vol. i., p. 49.
Neither was the popular mind disturbed by geography, and questions of distance scarcely
existed for it. Men listened without lifting an eyebrow to stories in which Cwsarea
Philippi is confused with Caesarea of Palestine,[] and in which a war is referred to
a!# breaking out between the latter town and Carthage. [] The caravan of seventy camels
sent by Isquirinus, Prefect of Périgueux, into the desert to seek for the seventy monks
who were dying of hunger, did not appear to them any less interesting because the said
desert is situated on the banks of the Dordogne.[] I am prepared to believe that men
would be more exacting concerning the topography of their native country, a knowledge of
which is forced upon them by their own eyes. But why trouble about distant scenes? []
 Passio S. Procopii, no. 27 in the Acta SS., July, vol.
ii., p. 564.
 St. Cassiodorus in the Mélanges Paul Fabre, Paris, 1902, pp. 40-50.
 Vita S. Frontonis, auctore Gauzberto; compare L. Duchesne, Fastes
Episcopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, vol. ii., p. 132.
 We have referred to the value of topographical records in hagiographic legends in
the Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp. 222-35, 243-44. Concerning the tenacity of
the memory of the people in all that concerns the names of the places in the country they
inhabit, see Pare M. J. Lagrange, La Méthode historique, surtout a propos de
I'Ancien Testament, Paris, 1903, pp. 188-92.
As for history, the popular intelligence conceives of it in the same spirit of naïve
simplicity. Let us see, for instance, what impression has been preserved of persecutions
under the Roman Empire. To begin with, no distinction is made between the emperors who
 have ordered and those who have merely authorised proceedings against the Christians.
There is but one epithet, impiissimus, by which all alike are described, whether
reference is made to Nero, Decius and Diocletian or to Trajan, Marcus Aurelius and
Alexander Severus. All are held to be animated by the same degree of insensate fury
against Christianity, and to have no other thought but that of destroying it. Frequently
it is the emperor in person who summons the Christians before his tribunal, even though he
be compelled to undertake journeys of which history has preserved no record. It is,
however, obvious that the head of the State cannot be everywhere. This is no obstacle to
his fury. He has emissaries who scour the empire and represent him worthily. Everywhere
Christians are outlawed, hunted down and dragged before monsters of judges, who contrive
to invent appalling tortures that have never been inflicted even on the worst of
criminals. Divine intervention, which prevents these refined torments from injuring the
martyrs, serves to emphasise the cruelty of their-persecutors, while at the same time
providing an adequate and visible reason for the numbers of conversions which the rage of
the executioners is unable to stem.
Such, in brief, is the picture of the age of persecutions as recorded in popular
legend. The variations in legislative enactments, and the diversity in the application of
the edicts, the very marked individuality of certain of the great enemies of the Faith,
the purely local character of some of the outbreaks of which the Christians, were victims,
do not in any sense appeal to the intelligence of the people, who much prefer a simple
picture in vivid colours and strongly marked outline, to combinations of numerous and
complex facts.  Need we add that historical sequence has no existence for the
populace? That, without exciting suspicion, one may assign the date of a martyrdom
indifferently to the reign of any one of the impious Emperors Decius, Numerian or
Diocletian?[] That the name of the judge is of no consequence, and that it is a matter
of indifference whether the cruel Dacianus could or could not persecute at one and the
same time in Italy and in Spain? The long list of the Popes is unfamiliar to them, and the
part played by a Pope Cyriacus was not sufficient to bring under suspicion the legend of
the eleven thousand virgins [] any more than surprise was caused by the introduction of
a Pope Alexander into the story of St Ouen.[]
[1 The 3d ed. adds: There are numerous examples in Les Passions des
martyrs et les genres littéraires, p. 136-315.]
 I may recall, among others, the martyrdom of St. Cecilia of which the date is
sometimes temporibus Alexandri imperatoris and sometimes Marci Aurelii et
Commodi temporibus. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii., pp. 86-88,
 Acta SS., October, vol. ix., pp. 100-4, 214, 276-78.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xx., pp. 175-76. According to the legend of SS.
Chrysanthus and Daria these saints suffered martyrdom in 283 under Numerian and their acts
were written by order of Pope Stephen (d. 257), Acta SS., October, vol. xi., p.
484. As a counterpart to this anachronism one may quote the legend of St. Florian and his
companions at Bologna. The martyrdom of the saints is supposed to have happened in the
twenty-seventh year of Heraclius (637), and the translation of their relics during the
episcopate of St. Petronius in the fifth century. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
xxiii., p. 298.
Thus robbed of their individuality, isolated in a sense from their period and their
surroundings, and dragged from their natural setting, historical personages acquire, in
the eyes of the people, an unreal and inconsistent character. For a vivid and clearly
accentuated portrait as bequeathed to us by history, we substitute an ideal figure who is
the personification of an abstraction: in place of the individual, the people know 
only the type. Alexander personifies the conqueror; Caesar, the organising genius of the
Roman people; Constantine, the Empire regenerated by Christianity.
In the really popular hagiographic legends it is not St. Lawrence, but the typical
martyr that is brought upon the scene, just as later St. Martin becomes the type of the
missionary-bishop and miracle-worker. There is also the typical persecutor. Diocletian is
the most prominent here, then certain judges who personify, so to speak, the cruelty of
pagan justice. One of the most celebrated of these is the redoubtable Anulinus, who was,
in reality, pro-consul of Africa during the great persecution. His name has become a
synonym for executioner, and in a number of legends recourse is had to him to bring about
the death of Christians at Lucca, at Milan and at Ancona, under Nero, Valerian, Gallienus
and Maximianus, without counting the narratives in which his authentic exploits are
 Consult the quotations in Le Blant, Les Actes des Martyrs,
Paris, 1882, p. 27.
It is scarcely surprising that the reading of certain hagiographic records should be
monotonous work, or that there should be such.- remarkable resemblances between the acts
of so many martyrs. While really historical documents such as the Acts of St. Polycarp,
and of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas and of St. Cyprian offer the most remarkable variations
of detail, the legend of the martyrs is nothing but a mass of repetitions. This is
the result of eliminating as far as possible the individual element, in order to retain
only the abstract form. Every martyr, as a rule, is animated by the same sentiments,
expresses the same opinions and is subject to the same trials, while the holy confessor
who has earned his reward by an edifying life must needs  have possessed all the
virtues of his profession, which the hagiographer, the faithful mouthpiece of popular
tradition, delights to enumerate.
Here, for example, is the portrait of St. Fursey, Abbot: "Erat enim forma
praecipuus, corpore castus, mente devotus, affabilis colloquio, amabilis adspectu,
prudentia, praeditus, temperantia. clarus, intema fortitudine firmus, censura iustitim
stabilis, longanimitate assiduus, patientia. robustus, humilitate mansuetus, caritate
sollicitus et ita in eo omnium virtutum decorem sapientia. adornabat, ut secundum
apostolum sermo illius,semper in gratia sale esset conditus ".[] Unquestionably
this is a noble eulogy. But might not the same be written of every saint?
 "For he was comely to look upon, chaste of body, earnest in
mind, affable of speech, gracious of presence, abounding in wisdom, a model of
abstemiousness, steadfast in resolution, firm in right judgments, unwearied in
longanimity, of sturdiest patience, gentle in humility, solicitous in charity, while
wisdom in him so enhanced the radiance of all the virtues that his conversation, according
to the Apostle, was always seasoned with wit in the grace of God" (Acta SS.,
Jan., vol. ii, p. 37).
The biographer of St. Aldegonde describes her in the following terms: "Erat namque
moribus honesta, eloquio suavis, in pauperibus misericors, in lectione velox, in responsis
citissima, mitis omnibus, inter nobiles humilis, iunioribus quasi aequalis, in parcitate
cibi et potus ita dedita abstinentiae ut nulla. sodalium sibi aequipararetur"[] A
few characteristic incidents revealing her admirable virtues would impress one far more
than this conventional picture. But the popular mind can  only retain a simple and
general notion of sanctity. You ask for a portrait and you receive a programme.
 "For she was irreproachable in conduct, persuasive of speech,
merciful to the poor, quick at reading, most ready in answering, gentle to all, humble
among great folk, to her juniors like one of their own age, and so devoted to abnegation
in abstinence of food and drink that none of her companions could be compared with
her" (Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., p. 1036).
Moreover the programme can boast of very little variety. Poverty of invention is
another of the characteristics of popular intelligence. Its developments all resemble each
other, and its combinations offer but little interest. As for its creative faculties, they
appear condemned to sterility the moment the public has come into possession of a
sufficient number of fairly interesting themes and topics to fit the situations of more
The comparative study of folk-lore has revealed the fact that the same stories recur
among all races and in all countries, that they can all be traced back to a limited number
of identical themes, and that they have spread themselves over the world from a common
Every one is aware that even in our own day celebrated sayings are constantly re-issued
under fresh headings, that amusing anecdotes are perpetually transferred from one person
to another,[] and that, to quote but a single classical example,, there is not a town
without its legendary absent-minded citizen, everywhere the victim of identical
 Some examples of this have been collected by H. Gaidoz, Légendes
Contemporaines in Mélusine, vol. ix., 1898-99, pp. 77, 118, 140, 187.
The study of ancient authors supplies us with innumerable examples of the transmission
of legendary themes. We have only to glance through the descriptions of celebrated sieges
as told by the old chroniclers to discover that the effects of famine, the patriotism of
the besieged, and the cunning artifices designed to deceive the enemy as to the resources
of the town, are almost invariably described in identical terms.
 Thus when the Gauls besieged Rome the soldiers were reduced to soaking the leather
of their shields and sandals in order to eat it. The same fact occurred, if we are to
accept the evidence of Livy, at the siege of Casilinum during the second Punic war, and
again, according to Josephus, at the siege of Jerusalem. During the same siege of Rome the
women sacrificed their hair to weave into ropes; while the women of Carthage, Salonae,
Byzantium, Aquileia, Thasos and many other cities were equally capable of a devotion that
may well be called heroic.[] In the same way the chronicles of the Middle Ages are full
of ingenious manceuvres; invented to deceive the enemy who forthwith falls into the trap
and raises the siege.[] In order to appreciate the historic value of these curious
narratives, it is sufficient to place them side by side with others of the same
 The examples have been collected by A. Schwegler, Römische
Geschichte, vol. iii., Tubingen, 1858, p. 260.
 For example, a herd of fat cattle would be driven into the enemy's camp, or the
besiegers would be pelted with loaves of bread, or still better with cheeses, frequently
made from the milk of nursing mothers, in order to create a conviction that the town was
well supplied with provisions. See G. Pitré, Stratagemmi leggendarii da citta
assediate, new edition, Palermo, 1904, 21 pp.; also the Archivio per lo studio
delle Tradizioni popolari, vol. xxii., 1903-04, pp. 193-211. See also Romania,
vol. xxxiii., 1904, p. 459.
One might vary indefinitely the examples given, and quote curious cases of quaint
legends becoming acclimatised in the most incongruous localities. Strange as it may seem,
the Irish have thought fit to borrow from King Midas his ass's ears,[] with which to
adorn at least two of their kings.[]
 Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi, 180 and following; Hyginus, Fabulae,
 H. D'Arbois de Jubainville in the Revue Celtique, vol. xxiv., 1903, p. 215.
 A systematic classification of legendary themes furnished by hagiographic
documents would lead to similar conclusions. Many striking episodes which an inexperienced
reader would be tempted to take for original inventions are mere reminiscences or floating
traditions which cling sometimes to one saint, sometimes to another.
The miraculous crucifix which appeared to St. Hubert [] between the antlers of a
stag, is in no sense the exclusive property of this saint. It maybe found equally in the
legend of St. Meinulf [] and that of St Eustace [] as well as in those of many
others in which variations of detail render the theme less easily recognisable. Lists of
saints have been compiled who all vanquished dragons,[] but all these enumerations
would have to be greatly enlarged before one could in any way hope to exhaust the subject.
For myself, I see no object in doing so. It is almost always a waste of time to seek to
identify the historical fact which has been responsible for the introduction of such epic
incidents in the life of a saint. We might as well institute inquiries as to why a seed
borne by the wind has fallen on any particular spot.
Acta SS., Nov., vol. i., p. 839.
 Ibid., Oct., vol. iii., pp. 188, 212.
 Ibid., Sept., vol. vi., p. 124; [H. Delehaye, La légende de
S. Eustache, in Bulletin de la classe des lettres de I'Acadimie Royale de Belgique,
1919, p. 1-36.]
 See Ch. Cahier, Caractéristiques des Saints, vol. i., pp. 315-22. See
also M. Meyer, Ueber die Verwandschall heidnischer und Christlicher Drachentödter in
the Verhandlungen der XL, Versammlung deutscher Philologen, Leipzig, 1890, p. 336 and following.
It is with reason that a critic has taken exception to a detail in the acts of SS.
Sergius and Bacchus.[] The body of the latter martyr having been flung out on the
highway, was protected from dogs by birds of prey.[] A  similar miraculous
protection was accorded to the remains of St. Vincent [] St. Vitus [] St.
Florian,[] and St. Stanislaus of Cracow [] while we must not omit the eagle summoned
by Solomon to watch over the body of David, or other similar narratives drawn from
Talmudic literature.[] Nor, since we are on the subject of eagles, should we forget
that the miraculous bird who spread his wings to protect St. Servatius,[] St.
Bertulph,[] St. Medard [] and others from sun and rain is to be met with elsewhere
than in hagiographic documents.
 P. Byaeus in Acta SS., Oct., vol. iii., p. 838.
 Ibid., p. 867.
 Prudentius, Peristeph., v., 102 and following.
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., pp. 1025-26.
 Ibid., May, vol. iv., p. 465.
 Ibid., May, vol. vii., pp. 202, 231.
 S. Singer, Salomon sagen in Deutschland in Zeitschrift für Deutsches
Alterthum vol. xxxv., 1891, p. 186; Id., Sagengeschichtliche Parallelen aus dem
Babylonischen Talmud in Zeitschrift des Vereins fürr Volkskunde,, vol. ii.,
1892, p. 301.
 Acta SS., May, vol. iii., p. 215.
 Ibid., Feb., vol. i., p. 679.
 Ibid., Jan., vol. ii., p. 87. Compare Singer, Salomon sagen, as
above, p. 185.
We read in the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary that, before* starting on the
Crusades, her husband presented her with a ring of which the precious stone possessed the
property of breaking when a calamity happened to its donor. This legend, introduced into
her life, no doubt on the strength of some historic incident, may be found with slight
variations in the life of St. Honoratus of Buzançais. It is a popular theme which has not
only been turned to account in the romance of Flores and Blanchfl§eur, but in the Arabian
Nights, in a Kalmuk folk-tale, and in more than one Indian story.[]
 E. Cosquin, Comes populaires de Lorraine, vol. i., p. 71.
Again, the dramatic adventure that befel the page of St. Elizabeth of Portugal is a
Christian adaptation of a narrative that had its origin in India,[] while the story
of the crucifix dropped into the sea by St. Francis Xavier and brought to land by a crab
is simply borrowed from Japanese mythology.[]
 E. Cosquin, La Légende du page de Sainte Elizabeth de Portugal
et le conte indien des "Bons Conseils" in the Revue des Questions
historiques, vol. lxxiii., 1903, pp. 3-42; Id., La 1égende de Sainte Elizabeth de
Portugal et les contes orientaux, ibid., vol. lxxiv., pp. 207-17. Id., Etudes
folkloriques, p. 73-162; C. Formichi, La leggenda del paggio di santa Elizabetta in Archivio delle tradizioni popolari, vol. xxii., 1903, pp. 9-30.
 Bouhours, Vie de saint Francois Xavier, vol. iii. The Japanese legend is
related by A. B. Mitford, Tales of Old Japan, London, 1871, pp. 40-43. Attention is
drawn to the loan in the Revue des traditions populaires, 15th August, 1890. I am
indebted to M. E. Cosquin for these details.
At Valencia, in the Church of San Salvador, there is preserved a figure of Christ which
drifted there miraculously by sea and up-stream; at Santa-Maria del Grao, the port of
Valencia, there is another figure of Christ together with a ladder, the one used at His
crucifixion, which was also carried by sea in a boat without crew or cargo. As the vessel
came to a halt in mid-stream, an altercation arose between the inhabitants of the opposite
banks for the possession of the sacred relics. To settle the matter, the boat was towed
out to sea, where it was once more left to take what direction it pleased. Straightway it
sailed up the river and became stationary close to Santa-Maria del Grao.[]
 See Fages, Histoire de saint Vincent Ferrier, vol. ii., pp.
In a similar strain Pausanias describes the coming of the statue of Hercules to
Erythrae. It arrived by sea on a raft and came to a halt at the promontory of Juno called
Cape Mesata because it was half-way between Erythrx and Chios. From the moment they espied
the god, the inhabitants of each of the two towns did their utmost to attract it in their
own direction. But the heavens decided in favour of the first. A fisherman of that
town named Phormio was warned in a dream that if the women of Erythrx would sacrifice
their hair in order to make a cable, they would have no difficulty in drawing in the raft.
The Thracian women who inhabited the town made the sacrifice of their locks, and thus
secured the miraculous statue for Erythra!. Except for the final details the two legends
 Pausanias, vii., 5, 5-8.
Nothing is more common in popular hagiography than this theme of the miraculous advent
of a picture or of the body of a saint in a derelict vessel; equally common is the miracle
of the ship that comes to a halt or of the oxen who refuse to go any farther, in order to
indicate the spot mysteriously predestined for the guardianship of a celestial treasure,
or to confirm some church in the legitimate possession of the relics of a saint.[] We
need only recall the arrival of St. James in Spain, of St. Lubentius at Dietkirchen, of
St. Maternus at Rodenkirchen, of St. Emmerammus at Ratisbonne, of the girdle of the
Blessed Virgin at Prato, of the Volto Santo at Lucca.[]
 In our own country (Belgium) it is not usual to employ oxen for the
transport of sacred objects. Hence, in the legend of "Le Christ des Dames
Blanches" of Tirlemont, it is the Canons of Saint Germain who find themselves
incapacitated from carrying their precious burden any farther. P. V. Bets, Histoire de
Tirlemont, Louvain, 1861, vol. ii., p. 88. The same story is related of the relics of
St. George by Gregory of Tours, In gloria martyrum, c. 101.
 The documents have been collected by H. Usener, Die Sintflutsagen, Bonn,
1899, pp. 136-37.
These miraculous voyages of crucifixes, Madonnas and statues of saints are particularly
abundant in Sicily, as has been proved by recent researches.[] A similar  inquiry
in other countries would probably be rewarded with equally numerous discoveries.[] In
Istria an occurrence of a similar nature is connected with the foundation of the Bishopric
of Pedena by Constantine .[]
 G. Pitrè, Feste patronali in Sicilia in Biblioteca delle
tradizioni popolari Siciliane, vol. xxi., Turin and Palermo, 1900, pp. xx.-xxii.
1 Concerning the miraculous crucifix of Hoboken, near Antwerp, see P. D. Kuyl, Hoboken
en zijn wonderdadig Kruisbeeld, Antwerp, 1866, pp. 147-56; concerning the local legend
of St. Desiré (Allier) see J. Stramoy, La légende de sainte Agathe in Revue
des traditions populaires, vol. xiii., p. 694; on the advent of the relics of St.
Thomas at Ortona, A. de Nino, Usi e costumi Abruzzesi, vol. iv, Florence, 1887, p.
151. The legend of St. Rainier of Bagno, ibid., pp. 162-63, may also be mentioned
here. A recent work on this subject is that of M. F. de Mely, L'image du Christ du
Sancta Sanctorum et les reliques chrétiennes apportées par les flots in Mémoires
de la Société des Antiquaires de France, series vii., vol. iii., Paris, 1904, pp.
 Manzuoli, Vite e fatti de' santi et beati dell' Istria, Venice, 1611, pp.
107-12. [The sentence which follows was omitted in the 3d ed. Ed.]
The Greeks have not neglected to introduce into their lives of saints a theme which had
proved so popular among their ancestors. The panegyrist of St. Theodore Siceotes not only
made use of it but endowed the animal with a voice in order that it might declare in
explicit terms the desire of the saint to rest on the spot he had selected for
himself.[] The oxen which drew St. Cyril of Gortina to the scaffold also stopped at the
chosen spot in obedience to a divine command,[] and the reader will recall the role
attributed to the camels in the history of St. Menas of Egypt.[]
 Analectq Bollandiana, vol. xx., p. 269.
 Syntaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, pp. 17, 750.
 Bibl. hag. lat., n. 5921-The site of the Church of S. Auxentius in Cyprus
was also indicated by the oxen which carried his relics. C. Sathas, Vies des saints
allemands de Chypre in Archives de I'Orient latin, vol. ii., p. 419.
It would be an endless task to draw up a complete list of the stock incidents of
hagiography. We have already been able to show from examples that some of them go back to
a very remote antiquity. That is  a point that cannot be too strongly insisted upon. A
number of the legendary themes to be found scattered through the lives of saints, in the
histories of the foundation of celebrated shrines, and in the accounts of the origin of
certain miraculous pictures, are to be met with in the classics. The people of ancient
times would themselves have experienced great difficulty in indicating their origin. For
them, as for us, they were as leaves carried hither and thither by the wind.
The picture or letter dropped from heaven, the "acheiropoeetos" or picture
not made by human hand, are by no means the invention of Christian narrators. The legend
of the Palladium of Troy, the statue of Pallas Athene fallen from the sky, and many other
similar legends, show how common such conceptions were among the ancients.[] Like
ourselves they were familiar with holy pictures which shed tears,[] with statues bathed
in sweat in times of calarnity,[] with voices issuing from marble lips.[
 See demonstration of this in E. von Dobschütz, Christusbilder in Texte und Untersuchungen, N.F., vol. iii.,
 "Apollo triduum, et tres noctes lacrimavit," Livy, x1iii., 13.
 "Signa ad Junonis Sospitz sudore manavere," Livy, xxiii., 31.
 "Fortunae item muliebris simulacrum, quod est in via Latina non semel sed his
locutum constitit, his paene veTbiS: Bene me matronx vidistis riteque dedicastis,"
Valerius Maximus, i., 8.
The story of some object flung into the sea and recovered from the belly of a fish, to
be met with in the lives of St Ambrose of Cahors, St. Maurilius,[] St. Magloire,[]
St. Kentigern [] and many others, is nothing more than a reminiscence of the ring of
Polycrates, related  by Herodotus.[] The swarm of bees that alighted on the cradle
of St. Ambrose,[] and which also visited St. Isidore,[] had long before deposited
its honey in the mouth of Pindar [] and in that of Plato.[] The miracle of the rock
opening to receive St. Thecla[] and St. Ariadne[] in order to snatch them from the
pursuit of their persecutors is but an echo of the fable of Daphne, just as the story of
St. Barbara recalls that of Danai confined by her father in a brazen tower.[]
 See A. Houtin, Les origines de I'Eglise dAngers, Laval, 1901,
pp. 54, 55.
 Acta SS., Oct., vol. x., p. 787.
 Ibid., Jan., vol. i., p. 820.
 Herodotus, Hist., iii., 43. Further parallels are quoted by R. Köhler, Kleinere
Schriften, Vol. ii., Berlin, 1900, p. 209, note 1.
 Vita a Paulino, No. 3.
 Acta SS., April, Vol. i., p. 331.
 Pausanias, ix., 23, 2.
 Cicero, De divinatione, i., 36; Olympiodorus, Vita Platonis, Westermann,
 Lipsius, Acta apostolorum apocrypha, Vol. i., p. 272.
 P. Franchi de' Cavalieri, I martiri di santo Teodoto e di santa Ariadne in Studi
e Testi, No. 6, Roma, 1901, p. 132. The Acta sancta- Maria, ancillce in Acta
SS., Nov., Vol. i., pp. 201-6, cannot be quoted in evidence, as they are not distinct
from those of St. Ariadne.
 Papebroch had already noted the borrowing; Acta SS. Bollandiana apologeticis
libris in unum volumen nunc primum contractis vindicata, Antwerp, 1755, p. 370.
Suetonius relates how Augustus, one day, when still a child, imposed silence on the
frogs that were croaking near his grandfather's villa, and, it is said, he adds, that
since then frogs have never croaked on that spot.[] The same marvellous incident is
recounted of more than one saint: of St. Rieul, St. Antony of Padua, St. Benno of Meissen,
St. George, Bishop of Suelli, St. Ouen, St. Hervatus, St. James of the Marches, St.
Segnorina, St. Ulphus.[]
 Suetonius, Octavius, xciv. [Antigonos, tells the same thing
of Hercules. Keller, P.1.]
 The hagiographic documents have been collected by Cahier, Caractéristiques des
Saints, Vol. i., pp. 274-76, who did not trouble himself about the early origin of the
incident. A large number of legends might be quoted in which other animals play an
analogous part. Thus St. Tygris caused some sparrows to keep silence who had disturbed her
at her prayers, and they never troubled her again, Acta SS., June, Vol. v., p. 74,
note 9. At the request of St. Caesarius of Arles, the wild boars which attracted a crowd
of hunters forsook the neighbourhood of his monastery (Acta SS., August, Vol. A.,
P. 72, note 36). [3d ed. adds references to St. Ursin and St. Martin from Acta SS
" Nov., Vol. iv, p. 103.]
 The reader will recall the vigorous language in which St. Jerome, in the early
part of his life of St. Paul, summed up the horrors of the persecutions under Decius and
Valerian: the martyr smeared with honey and exposed to the stings of insects, and yet
another who protected himself against the snares of sensual desire by spitting out his
tongue in the face of the temptress.[] The magic of St. Jerome's style and the vivid
relief of his pictures endow them with a semblance of originality to which they cannot lay
claim.[] Martyrdom from insects, which, if we may believe Sozomen, was renewed
under Julian, was but another reminiscence of the classics.[] Apuleius, among others,
makes mention of it. As for the episode of the tongue, ancient writers have related the
story on more than one occasion, attributing it now to the Pythagorean Timycha, now to
Lemna the courtesan, and again to the philosopher Zeno of Elea.[] St. Jerome, the
recorder of this Christian adaptation of an ancient legend, did not succeed in giving it a
permanent attribution. At a later date it was told of the martyr Nicetas, and Nicephorus
Callistus [] repeats it once again in connection with an ascetic who lived in the reign
 These anonymous martyrs are inscribed in the Roman martyrology for
28th July. [This note in the 3d ed. reads simply Metamorph., V111 22.]
 [See P. Franchi de' Cavalieri, Haglographica, p. 124. We do not forget the
torment of Mark of Arethusa: Gregory of Nazianzus, In Iulian., I, 89; Sozomène, Hist.
eccl., V, 10. (See p. 104 n. I below, ed.).]
 Metamorph., viii., 22.
 The chief classical texts are quoted by Wachsmuth, Berichte der k. Sächs.
Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Phil. Hist. Cl., Vol. Viii., 1856, p. 132.
 Acta SS., Sept., Vol. iv., P. Vii.
 Hist. Eccles., Vol. vii., chap. 13.
 It seems scarcely necessary to remind the reader of the legend of the Seven
Sleepers. The conception of a long sleep, which occurs in the history of Epimenides, has
never ceased to have currency in folk tales, and it has been repeated with endless
 H. Demoulin, Epiménide de Crète in the Bibliothèque de
la Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres de I'Université de Liége, fasc. Xii.,
Brussels, 1901, pp. 95-100, in which other versions of the sleep legend are indicated.
The apparent complexity of certain legends and the startling effect of certain
combinations which appear highly ingenious must not deceive us, and we must not hastily
draw conclusions in favour of the creative faculty of popular genius. The historic
elements which do not lend themselves to simplification are merely placed in
juxtaposition, and bound together by a very slender thread. The result is usually an
incoherent narrative, which in most cases is distinguished by its extraordinary
improbability, though on occasions the effect is not devoid of impressiveness.
The following, for example, is one version of the legend of the wood of the cross.
Adam, driven from Paradise, took with him a branch of the tree of knowledge, which served
him as a staff to the end of his days. This stick passed down from hand to hand to the
patriarchs, and during the wars an angel hid it in a cave where it was discovered by
Jethro while herding his flocks. In his old age Jethro sent a message to Moses to come and
take the staff, which on the arrival of the prophet sprang miraculously towards him. Moses
made use of it to hang from it the brazen serpent. Later Phineas became possessed of it
and buried it in the desert. At the time of the birth of Christ the precise spot was
revealed to St. Joseph, who  found the staff on the occasion of the flight into Egypt.
He handed it on to his son Jacob, who gave it to the traitor Judas, and through him it
came into the hands of the executioners of Jesus Christ, and from it the cross was
 Fr. Kampers, Mittelalterliche Sagen vom Paradiese und vom Holze
des kreuzes Christi, Cologne, 1897, pp. 89, 90. cf. W. Meyer, Die Geschichte des
Kreuzholzes vor Christus in Abhandlungen der k. Bayer. Akademie der Wissenschatten,
i. Cl., vol. xvi., 1881.
It will be admitted that, reduced to these terms, the legend of the wood of the cross
does not give evidence of much wealth of invention, although the root idea of the
mysterious continuity of the Old and the New Testament upon which the story has been
clumsily built lends it a certain dignity.
The legend of Judas's thirty pieces of silver runs on similar lines. The money was
coined by the father of Abraham, and with it Abraham bought a field as a burial-place for
himself and his family. Later the coins passed into the possession of the sons of Jacob,
to whom they were paid over by the slave merchants who purchased Joseph. With the
identical coins they paid for the corn which Joseph procured for them in Egypt. At the
death of Jacob they were given in payment for the spices for his tomb, and thus passed
into the land of Sheba, and there remained until they were sent with other gifts by the
Queen of Sheba to Solomon's Temple. From Jerusalem the coins were transfermcl to Arabia,
to return with the Magi. The Blessed Virgin took the money with her to Egypt, and there
lost it. It was found by a shepherd, who hoarded it until, struck with leprosy, he went to
Jerusalem to implore Jesus to cure him. As a thank-offering he presented the thirty pieces
of silver to the Temple, and  they thus became, in the hands of the chief priests, the
price of Judas's betrayal. But Judas repented, and restored the price of his sin to the
priests, who gave half of it to the soldiers on guard at the sepulchre and the other half
to the potter for the field to be a burying place for strangers.[]
 See, for example, A. Graf, Roma nella memoria e nelle
immaginazioni del medio evo, Turin, 1883, vol. ii., pp. 462-63; L. De Feis, Le
Monete del prezzo di Giuda in Studi Religiosi, vol. ii., 1902, pp.
412-30, 506-21. Note also, by the way, the version of the legend of the thirty pieces of
silver in Solomon of Basrah, The Book of the Bee, edited by E. A. W. Budge, Oxford,
1886, p. 94 and following.
By a succession of similar combinations men have succeeded in identifying the stone
which served as a pillow for the patriarch Jacob with that which supports the throne of
the Kings of England at their coronation in Westminster Abbey.[] One might quote many
examples of such childish concatenations of historical reminiscences resulting in
narratives which appear to be carefully elaborated, but which are, in reality, of puerile
 J. H. Rivett-Carnac, La piedra de la coronación en la abadia de
Westminster y su conexion legendaria con Santiago de Compostela in the Boletin de
la real academia de la Historia, vol. xl., 1902, pp. 430-38.
Popular imagination in its workings has not been restricted to the famous names and
great events of sacred history. It has frequently given itself free scope in relation to
the history of certain well-known saints, who, owing to the existence of their tombs and
the veneration paid to their.memories, could neither be passed over in silence nor fused
into one. The recognised procedure was to group them together, to imagine links of kindred
or of some common action between them, to forge a history in which each should play a 
well-defined rôle, without ever stopping to inquire whether a particular saint might not
be acting quite incompatible parts in two different stories. In this way, with the
assistance of historical names and a topographical setting, whole cycles of purely
imaginary legends have been composed.
The best-known example of this is that of the Roman martyrs of whom the legends form a
series of cycles each one embracing a certain number of saints who frequently had nothing
in common save the place of their sepulture.[] Some of these legends are interesting
and in places poetic; others-and they are in the majority-are trivial and meaningless.
Nevertheless, if we study them as a whole, we can derive from them a picture which is not
the result of design yet is none the less impressive; and if a poet had arisen to put into
shape the raw material of these rude narratives, he might have drawn from them an epic
poem of Christian Rome, from the foundation of the Mother and Mistress of Churches by St.
Peter, through the bloody conflicts of the days of persecution, down to the final triumph
under Sylvester and Constantine. Unhappily the man of genius who might have endowed us
with this work of art has never arisen, and our sense of the grandeur of the subject only
gives us a more vivid perception of the poverty of the legends that remain to us, and the
lack of inspiration and originality in the creations of the people at large.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp. 2-7 and following.
Predominance of sense impressions over the intelligence -
Localisation and foot-prints - Literary origin of
certain of these - Iconographic legends - Popular etymology - Miracles - The soul of the
people - Energy
of expression - Exaggerated feeling - Ambitions of individual churches - Morality of the
mob - Local claims.
The brain of the multitude has been shown to be narrow, incapable of coping with any
large number of ideas at once, or indeed with even a single idea of any complexity,
equally incapable of applying itself to prolonged or subtle reasoning, but, on the other
hand, fully prepared to receive impressions through the senses. The idea may fade quickly
away, but the picture remains; it is the material side of things which attracts the
populace, and it is to sensible objects that all the people's thoughts and affections
cling. In this respect popular intelligence scarcely exceeds the intellectual level of a
child, who, equally indifferent to abstract concepts, turns instinctively towards that
which appeals to the senses. All the child's ideas and reminiscences are indissolubly
linked to material and palpable objects.
Thus it is that great men live far less in the memory of their countrymen than in the
stones, rocks or buildings with which it pleases people to connect their names. For, in
the first place, the popular mind craves for what is definite and concrete. It is not
satisfied with knowing that some celebrated personage passed through the country. It
wishes to identify the precise spot on which he stood, the tree that gave him shelter, the
house in which he lodged. Thus we have Alexander's oak, shown in the days of Plutarch near
the Cephisus to mark the spot where he pitched his  tent at the battle of
Chaeronea;[] Horace's house at Venusium, an ancient ruin shown under his name even in
our own day, although no historical tradition connects it with the poet; and finally
Virgil's house at Brindisi, the remains of a structure only built in the sixteenth
 Plutarch, Alexander, ix., 2.
 F. Lenormant, À travers I'Apulie et la Lucanie, vol. i., Paris, 1883,
pp. 202-3. In the same way the site of Ovid's house is still shown at Sulmona. A. de Nino, Ovidio nella tradizione popolare di Suhnona, Casalbordino, 1886, p. 21.
In the same way the populace always feels constrained to explain the origin or the
purpose of whatever impresses it and to bestow a name upon every object that excites its
attention. Like a child it contents itself with the first explanation that soothes its
imagination and satisfies its craving for knowledge, while reflection and the critical
faculty never enlighten it concerning the insufficiency or improbability of what it
invents. Thus it becomes a matter of course that people. should transfer to the curious
features of natural scenery or to the constructions of bygone ages, both the pictures that
haunt their imagination and the celebrated names that live in their memory. It is one and
the same psychological cause, which, all the world over, has bestowed well-known names on
rocks of unwonted shape or natural grottoes which attract attention.
In the religious sphere the popular instinct asserts itself very emphatically in both
From this point of view nothing is more instructive than accounts of pilgrimages to
celebrated shrines and more especially to the Holy Land. The earliest narratives by pious
pilgrims [] betray no trace of the  ignorance and hesitation of our most learned
exegetes in topographical matters, and with glorious assurance they will point out to you
the precise spot where David composed his psalms, the rock smitten by Moses, the cave that
sheltered Elijah, without counting the places mentioned in the Gospels of which not one is
forgotten, not even the house of the wicked Dives, or the tree into which Zaccheus
climbed. To show the extent to which material things dominate the intelligence and stifle
the powers of reflection, people have pretended to have seen the "comer-stone which
the builders rejected" and have begged for relics " de lignis trium
tabernaculorum:' those three tabernacles which St. Peter, in his ecstasy, proposed to
erect on the mountain of the Transfiguration.[]
 See more especially the narratives of Antoninus, of Theodosius, and
Adamnan; Geyer, Itinera Hierosolymilana saec., iv.-viii., in the Corpus script.
Eccl. lat., vol. xxxix.
 Angilberti abbatis de ecclesia Centulensi libellus, M. G., Scr., vol. xv.,
In a similar way the names of saints are frequently linked with monuments or remarkable
places which appeal to the popular imagination. Thus it is quite natural that in Rome the
Marnertine prison should be selected as the scene of St Peter's imprisonment, and that men
should be enabled to point out the precise spot where Simon Magus fell: Silex ubi
cecidit Simon Magus.[] Neither is it surprising that in Ireland so many places are
connected with the memory of St Patrick, or at Naples with that of St. Januarius, or in
Touraine and the neighbourhood of Autun with St. Martin.
 L. Duchesne, Le forum chretien, Rome, 1899, p. 17.
It is furthermore only a particular example of a universal phenomenon that people
should recognise in the hollows of rocks the imprint of the feet, hands or knees of St.
Peter, St. George and St. Martin, just as in other  localities one is shown the
footprints of Adam and Abraham, of Moses and Buddha.[] That a large number of such
attributions, more especially in the case of megalithic monuments, should have been
christianised, and that the Blessed Virgin and the saints should have been substituted for
the heroes of heathen legends, need excite no surprise. Whether St. Cornelius, in
preference to all others, by turning the soldiers of King Adar to stone, should have
created the long lines of menhirs at Camac and Erdeven in Brittany,[] or whether it was
a fairy rather than St. Frodoberta, who dropped a lapful of stones, useless for building
purposes,[] near the lake of Maillard in the department of Seine-et-Mame, the popular
tradition remains unaffected, testifying in each case that there is as yet no advance
beyond the intellectual level of childhood.
 S. Reinach, Les monuments de pierre brute dans le langage et les
croyances populaires in the Revue archgologique, 3rd series, vol. xxi., p. 224.
 S. Reinach, loc. cit., p. 355.
 Ibid., p. 354-A great number of miraculous imprints have been pointed out in
Italy by various scholars who have published their notes in the Archivio per lo studio
delle Tradizioni popolari, vol. xxii., 1903, p. 128, and the preceding years. A
considerable number of these imprints are attributed to various popular saints. [Other
examples are to be found in F. Lanzoni, Le fonti della leggenda di Sant' Apollinare di
Ravenna, Bologna, 1915, p. 57.]
It must not be forgotten that very precise identifications of locality may frequently
be traced to a purely literary origin. Thus at Verona, where Romeo and Juliet only lived
in the imagination of poets,[] travellers are shown both their palace and their tomb,
while the two ruined castles perched on the neighbouring hills  have become those of
the Capulets and Montagues.[] In Alsace are we not shown the forge! which Schiller has
"immortalised" by his ballad of Fridolin, and the castle of the Counts of
Saverne, who none the less never existed?[] This last example proves that in these
cases tradition does not take long to germinate and blossom. Until the old legend was
turned into verse by Schiller in 1797, Alsace had never been regarded as the home of the
incident. Yet it was sufficient for the ballad to become popular for the event to be
materialised and localised in the most precise fashion.
 L. Frankel, Untersuchungen zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Stoffes
von Romeo und Julia, in Zeitschrift für vergleichende Litteraturgeschichte, N.F.,
vol. iii., 1890, p. 171-210; vol. iv, 1891, 48-91; G. Brognoligo, La leggenda di
Giulietta e Romeo in Giornale Linguistico, vol. xix, 1892, p. 423-39. [There is a
useful bibliography, with discussion, of the Romeo and Juliet sources in E. K.
Chambers, William Shakespeare, Oxford, 1930, vol. i, 340 ff. Ed.]
 The Cappelletti and the Montecchi according to Dante are types, and in no sense
historical characters. R. Davidsohn, Die Feindschaft der Montecchi und Cappelletti ein
Irrtum in Deutsche Rundschau, Dec., 1903, pp. 419-28. On 8th July, 1905, the
"historic" house of Juliet was purchased by the municipality of Verona. See The
Times of 10th July, 1905.
 W. Hertz, Deutsche Sage im Elsass, Stuttgart, 1872, pp. 278 and following.
Of such topographical transference to suit the requirements of a legend there is no
lack of examples in hagiography. At Sofia (Sardica), near the Church of St. Petka
(Parasceve), may be seen an ancient tree-trunk partially built into the wall and scored
with many notches. The people call it the tree of St. Therapon, and believe that the saint
suffered his martyrdom near by. On his feast-day, 27th May, they go in pilgrimage to the
spot, and make a point of carrying away with them some small piece of the sacred tree to
which they attribute miraculous virtues. Now, in point of fact, St. Therapon did not die
at Sardica; he was a native of Sardis, but according to the legend a great oak-tree sprang
up from the ground that had been soaked with his blood. This evergreen oak was said still
to exist  and to cure every disease.[] The confusion between Sardis and Sardica
having once established itself, it became easy to transplant the miraculous tree.[]
 Synaxarium ecclesim Constantinopolitamr, p. 711.
 C. Jirecek, Das christliche Element in der topographischen Nomenclatur der
Balkanländer in the Sitzungsberichte der kaiserlich. Akademie, vol. cxxxvi.,
1897, pp. 54-55. Other examples of similar instances are to be found in this essay.
In the face of facts such as these, need we insist on the illusory nature of the
process which consists in tracing the itinerary of a saint by means of the landmarks
established by legends? If this has sometimes been attempted, it has not been precisely in
the higher interests of history.3
 J. G. Bulliot et F. Thiollier, La mission et le culte de St.
Martin d'après les légendes et les monuments populaires dans le pays éduen, Autun-Paris,
1892, vi., p. 483. The life of St. Radegonde has been the object of a similar attempt. See Analecia Bollandiana, vol. x., pp. 59-60.
Popular imagination in the past has not exercised itself solely on rough-hewn stones
and buildings. Carved figures wrongly interpreted have proved the startingpoint of a
number of quaint legends.[] A poet is represented with his foot on a large book: he
must be the most learned of men, for he can read with his feet.[] The two fine
equestrian statues on Monte Cavallo (now Piazza del Quirinale) in Rome gave currency
during the Middle Ages to a most curious tale. It was said that they represented two
celebrated philosophers named Phidias and Praxiteles, who came to Rome during the reign of
Tiberius, and had the singular habit of walking  about the city in a state of nudity,
in order to inculcate the vanity of the things of this world.[]
 C. Kinkel, Mosaik zur Kunstgeschichle, Berlin, 1876, devotes
a whole chapter to this question: Sagen aus Kunstwerken entstanden, pp. 161-243.
 A. de Nino, Ovidio nella tradizione popolare di Sulmona. p. 17
 C. L. Urlichs, Codex urbis Roma topographicus, Wirceburgi, 1871, pp. 122-23.
Every sort of invention has been forthcoming to explain the representations of saints.
It was obviously the common people who created the naïve legend of the saints who carry
their own heads, suggested by a prevalent iconographic type, [] and the legend of St.
Nicholas and the three children is usually traced to a similar source.[] A symbol
interpreted in a materialistic sense has built up a regular romance around an incident in
the life of St. Julian,[] and we shall see later on that the extraordinary history of
St. Liberata or Uncumber merely translates into popular language the explanation of
certain peculiar features in a picture.
 Ch. de Smedt, Principes de la critique historique, pp.
188-92. [This paragraph has been revised in the 3d ed. and St. Lucy adduced as an example,
while the saints carrying their own heads have been omitted. The rev. fn. cites Anal.
Boll., vol. xxxix, p. 162.]
 Cahier, Caractéristiques des Saints, vol. i., p. 304.
A. Ledru, Le premier miracle attribui à Saint Julien in La province du
Maine, vol. x., 1892, pp. 177-85. Cf. Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii., p. 351.
The following is another example, drawn from hagiography. An inscription, now to be
seen in the Marseilles Museum, makes mention of a certain Eusebia, Abbess of St. Quiricus, Hic requiescit in Oace Eusebia religiosa magna ancella Dei, etc., without any
indication that would lead one to assume the existence of any cultus of this admirable
woman. But her body had been laid in a sarcophagus of older date adorned with the figure
of the dead person for whom it had been originally intended. It was the bust of a
beardless man, which, in the course of time, had become damaged and mutilated. This fact
was sufficient to give rise to a legend, and it was told how St. Eusebia, abbess of a
convent at Marseilles, and her forty  companions cut off their noses to escape from
the violence of the Saracens. "Quam traditionern confirMat generosm illius heroine
effigies, dimidia facie et naso, praeciso supra tumulum posita cum epigraphe," writes
a Benedictine, quoted by M. Le Blant.[]
 Le Blant, Inscriptions Chrétiennes de la Gaule, n. 545.
Again, more than one legend owes its existence to names incorrectly understood or to
resemblances of sound. To the curious examples of popular etymology collected by various
learned authors,[] we might add a large number of cases bearing specially on
hagiography. We must, however, restrict ourselves to a few cursory indications.
 A. F. Pott, Etymologische Legenden bei den Alten in Philologus, Supplement band, vol. ii., Heft 3; 0. Keller, Lateinische Volksetymologie, Leipzig,
1891; 0. Weise, Zur Charakteristik der Volksetymologie in Zeitschrift für
Volkerpsychologie, vol. xii., 1880, pp. 203-23.
The Church of St. Nereus and Achilleus on the Appian Way close to the Thermae of
Caracalla formerly bore the name of Titulus de Fasciola.[] Opinions
differ as to the meaning of the title. Some consider Fasciola to be the name of the
foundress. Others regard it merely as a topographical expression of obscure origin. The
erudite may hesitate: popular legend sees no cause for hesitation. The name Fasciola is a
reminiscence of St. Peter. As he was passing by the spot on leaving prison he dropped the
bandage that bound up his injured leg. "Tunc beatissimus Petrus," says an old
writer, "dum tibiam. demolitam haberet de compede ferri, cecidit ei fasciola ante
Septisolium in via nova,"[] Here, indeed, we may see the naïveté of a people who
 imagine that a great man cannot even drop a handkerchiLief without the spot being
immediately marked and renmembered in order that the incident may be recorded by a
 Concerning the title of Fasciola, see De Rossi, Bullettino di
archeologia cristiana, 1875, pp. 49-56. [Added in 3d ed.: 1. p. Kirsch, Die
röischen Titelkirchen im Altertum, Paderborn, 1918, p. 909-94.]
 Acta SS., Processi et Martiniani, BHL, n. 6947.
The influence of sound on the popular impressions formed of certain saints is well
known, and we are all aware that at times something little better than a pun decides the
choice of a patron. Thus, in France, St. Clare is invoked by those who suffer from their
eyes because she enables people to see clearly; St Ouen cures deafness because he
enables them to hear (Ouïr) St. Cloud cures boils (clous). Again, in
certain parts o Germany St. Augustine is believed to rid people of diseases of the eye (Auge),
and in others of a cough (Husten). Writers have drawn up lists of these conceits,
[] which are not solely due to popular imagination, and which learned men have amused
themselves by multiplying. There is one of comparatively recent date which enjoys a
surprising and regrettable popularity: St. Expeditus, thanks to his name, has been
acclaimed as the advocate of urgent causes.[]
 Mélusine, vol. iv., pp. 505-24; vol. v., p. 152.
 See later, chap. iii., par. 2. Compare Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xviii., p.
425; vol. xxv., pp. 90-98.
It also happens that, under the influence of phonetic laws, the names of certain saints
have become quite unrecognisable. On the Via Porto near Rome there may be seen a little
country church belonging to the basilica of Santa Maria in Via Lata, known under the title
of Santa Passera. Who is this saint who may be searched for in vain in the Calendar? Will
it be believed that the name and the chapel are intended to recall the translation of the
relics of SS. Cyrus and John, martyrs, formerly honoured at Menouthis near Alexandria?
 St. Cyrus, Abba Kyros, Abbacirus, has finally become transformed into Passera.[]
Has the metamorphosis ended there, or has the new saint acquired a legend of her own? I do
not know, but even were it so I should feel no astonishment The least that could be done
was to confuse St Passera with St Praxedes, and sure enough the opportunity has not been
 Abbacyrus, Abbaciro, Abbáciro, Pácero, Pácera, Passera, such
is the series of changes traced by M. Tomassetti in the Archivio Storico Romano, vol.
xxii., p. 465. Passera and Aboukir are thus exact counterparts.-One may also
quote Sancta Fumia on the Appian Way. This saint is no other than St. Euphemia. De
Rossi, Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, 1869, p. 80. There is also St. Twosole,
in whom it is not easy to recognise St. Oswald. J. Aubrey, Remains of Gentilism and
Judaism, ed. J. Britten, London, 1881, p. 29.
 Tomassetti as above, vol. xxii., p. 466. The Venetian dialect is specially rich in
transformations of saints' names, very bewildering to strangers. Thus in Venice the church
of San Marcuola is, in reality dedicated to SS. Ermagora e Fortunato; San
Trovaso is an adaptation of S. Gervasio e Protasio; San Zanipolo of S. Giovanni
e Paolo; San Stae of S. Eustachio; San Zandegola of S. Giovanni decollato;
San Stin of S. Stefanin; San Boldo of S. Ubaldo; San Lio of S. Leone, etc. See G. Tassini, Curiosita Veneziane, 4th edition, Venice, 1887, p. 428 and
following. [One may find other interesting exampIes of the phonetic transformation of
saints' names in A. Longnon, Les noms de lieu de la France, Paris, 1920-1923, p.
400- 446. 3d ed.]
We have surely said enough to show how, among the people, the senses predominate over
the intelligence, and how owing to the lethargy of their brains they are unable to rise to
an ideal conception, but stop short at the matter, the image, the sound. It is furthermore
by this spiritual feebleness that one must account for the blind attraction of the
populace for the miraculous and the sensibly supernatural. The thought of the invisible
guidance of Providence does not suffice; the interior working of grace offers nothing that
can be grasped, and the mysterious colloquies of the soul with God must be translated into
palpable results in order to produce any impression on the  popular mind. The
supernatural is only impressive when it is combined with the marvellous. Hence it
is that popular legends overflow with marvels. Visions, prophecies and miracles play a
necessary part in the lives of saints.
We shall not refer here to the wonders accomplished through the intercession of the
miracle-working saints on behalf of those who visit their tombs or touch their
relics; these constitute a special category which deserves separate treatment. But the
narrative of the acts of the saint himself is, as it were, impregnated with the
miraculous. Even before his birth his greatness is foreshadowed, and his cradle is
enveloped in visible signs of divine protection. Angels guard his footsteps, Nature obeys
him, wild beasts recognise his authority. In urgent peril he can always count on the
intervention of the celestial powers. One might almost say that God Himself seems to
favour the very caprices of His friends and seems to multiply miracles without any
apparent motive. The staff of St. Gangericus (Géry) remained upright throughout the
prayers of the saint,[] and the same thing occurred while St Junianus conversed with
King Clothair.[] Various saints hung their cloaks on a sunbeam or brought birds to life
when they were already turning on the spit. Blessed Marianus Scotus had no need of a
candle when writing at night as his fingers gave out the necessary light.[] In answer
to the prayer of St. Sebald, a peasant obtained a similar privilege until he had found his
strayed oxen .[] An eagle sheltered St. Ludwin from the sun's rays with his wings,[]
and the servant of St Landoald brought his  master fire in the folds of his robe.[]
The miracle of Joshua was renewed, we learn, in the person of St. Ludwill in order to
allow him to confer ordination on one and the same day at Reims and at Laon .[] In this
direction popular imagination knows no bounds, nor can it be denied that, more especially
in certain surroundings, among nations of a poetic temperament, these bold and naive
fictions frequently attain to real beauty.
 Acta SS., Aug., vol. ii., p. 674.
 Ibid., Aug., vol. iii., p. 41.
 Ibid., Feb., vol. ii., p. 367.
 Ibid., Aug., vol. iii., p. 772.
 Ibid., March, vol. i., p. 319; see ante, p. 29
 Acta SS., March, vol. iii., p .36.
 Ibid., Sept., vol. viii., p. 171.
One must not, however, exaggerate the fertility of these hagiographic trovatori.*
A methodical classification of the themes employed by them compels one to realise that
repetitions are numerous, and that it is chiefly by means of new combinations of familiar
topics that an appearance of variety is conferred on different groups of legends of the
saints. Above all, we must be on our guard against the belief that from the aesthetic
point of view the level of the miraculous creations of popular hagiography is, as a rule,
a high one. Putting aside an. occasional happy thought or a few interesting ideas worked
out with some ingenuity, the material of these biographies is as a rule deplorably
commonplace even where it is not beyond measure whimsical and extravagant. The
imagination, overexcited by the craving for the marvellous, and possessed by a burning
desire to outstrip one extraordinary narrative by another more extraordinary still, has
only too frequently overstepped all bounds in a region in which an unlimited field appears
to open out before the creative faculties.
[* trovatori: the original in Delehaye is trouveurs, i.e.,
trouvires, the mediaeval poets of Northern France. Ed.
The familiar miracle of the arrival of relics on a derelict vessel [] ended by
appearing tame and vulgar.  Some one, therefore, invented the idea of a heavy
sarcophagus floating on the water. It was in a stone coffin that St. Mamas landed in
Cyprus,[] as also did St. Julian at Rimini [] and St. Liberius at Ancona.[] For a
babe to leap in its mother's womb like St. John the Baptist was not enough to foreshadow
the greatness of a saint. St Fursey spoke before his birth,[] so also did St. Isaac,
who made his voice heard three times in one day.[]This miracle scarcely surpasses that
of St. Rumwold, an infant who lived but three days after birth, but who not only repeated
his profession of faith in such a way as to be understood by all present, but also
preached a long sermon to his parents before breathing his last. []
 see above, p. 30.
 Stefano Lusignano, Raccolta di cinque discorsi intitolati corone, Padua,
1577, cor. iv., p. 52.
 Acta SS., June, vol. iv., p. 139.
 Ibid., May, vol., vi., p. 729.
 Ibid., Jan., vol. ii., p. 45
 Ibid., June, vol. i., p. 325. The incident of the child speaking before its
birth has not been utilised by hagiographers alone. See Méllusine, vol. iv., pp.
228, 272-77, 297, 323, 405, 447; vol. v., pp. 36, 257; vol. vi., p. 91; vol. vii., pp. 70,
 Acta SS., Nov., vol. i., p. 605.
In the Acta Petri we read not only of a child seven months old addressing violent
reproaches "in manly tones" to Simon Magus,[] but also of a big dog who
conversed with St. Peter by whom it was , entrusted with a message for Simon.[].
Commodianus has also commemorated a lion who miraculously made., a speech in support of
the preaching of St. Paul [] Such  narratives may perhaps be mere reminiscences of
Balaam's ass, unless indeed the incidents were inspired by a study of the fabulists.
 R. A. Lipsius, Acta apostolorum apocrypha, vol. i., Leipzig,
1891, pp. 61, 62. In Commodianus, Carmen apolog., vi., 630, the child is only five
months old. Cf. C. Schmidt, Die alten Petrusakten in Texte und Untersuchungen, vol.
xxiv., 1903, pp. 106-'7.
 Lipsius, A, vol. i., pp. 56-60.
 Carmen apolog., v., pp. 57, 58. Cf. Schmidt, vol. xxiv., pp. 108-9.
These excesses lead us to speak of the passions to which the popular mind is liable,
passions intense and unrestrained, and impressing everything they touch with that element
of exaggeration and even of violence of which so many legends have preserved the trace.
The populace can only be moved by strong emotions, and it has no idea of keeping its
feelings under control. It takes no account of delicate shades, and just as it is
incapable of perceiving them so it is incompetent to express them. But it makes use of
energetic language to affirm its impressions and enunciate its ideas.
The following fact concerning St. Cataldus is a small example from among many. His
sanctity having betrayed itself by extraordinary manifestations which appeared to be
miraculous, an ecclesiastical commission was appointed to pronounce on their nature. This
was too simple for literary effect. Consequently the legend relates how the Pope, followed
by all the cardinals, went in procession to the house of Cataldus and visited it from
cellar to garret.[] The device reminds one of the methods of those painters whose whole
talent lies in the suggestion of life and movement.
 A. de Nino, Usi e costumi abruzzesi, vol. iv., Florence,
1887, p. 195.
Need we add that popular admiration, not seldom ill bestowed, is always quite
unmeasured? The multitude endows its favourites with every great quality, and cannot
tolerate the idea that others should appear superior to them. We may quote here, although
it has no connection with the history of the saints, a legend  that is particularly
instructive from this very point of view, the legend of Saladin. The admiration and
sympathy which his personal qualities and especially his moderation and humanity inspired
in his prisoners gave rise to a most improbable story, but one which emphasises in a
remarkable way the enthusiasm with which he was regarded. Nothing would satisfy his
admirers but to connect this Mussulman prince with a French family, and to make of him a
knight and next door to a Christian.[] Again, when popular imagination was fired by the
great expeditions to the Holy Land, it seemed impossible that a warrior such as
Charlemagne should not have taken part in them: accordingly from that time forth the
Crusades became one of the episodes in the history of that popular hero.
 G. Paris, La Légende de Saladin in the Journal des
Savants, 1893, pp. 284-99, 354-65, 428-38, 486-98.
Under such circumstances is it surprising that all the saints should be endowed with
all the virtues, and that in a period when illustrious birth added markedly to a person's
merit, a patent of nobility should invariably have been made out in their favour? But what
was valued even more than noble birth was the honour of having belonged to our Saviour's
immediate following. People had no hesitation in identifying the ancient patrons of
churches with certain personages who are mentioned in the Gospel, or who were supposed to
have taken part in some scene in the life of Christ. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch became
the child whom our Lord showed to the people when He enjoined upon them the humility and
simplicity of childhood ;[] St. Syrus of Pavia became the boy with the five loaves;
[] St.  Martial held the towel at the washing of the feet;[] and St. Ursinus
read aloud during the Last Supper.[]
 Acta SS., Feb., vol. i., p. 18.
 Prelini, San Siro primo vescovo di Pavia, vol. i., Pavia, 1880, p. 312.
 Vita S. Martialis a. Pseudo-Aureliano, no. 2; Bourret, Documents sur les
origines chretiennes du Rouergue, Rodez, 1887-92, p. 13.
 Vita S. Ursini, in Act. SS., Nov., vol. iv, p._109. 3d ed.]
It may readily be conceived that the legends tracing back to Christ or to St. Peter the
mission of the first bishops of important dioceses were not solely inspired by a
disinterested love of the saint. The passion for a noble ancestry which caused first the
Romans and then the Franks to connect themselves with the heroes of the Iliad, discovered
this fresh form of self-flattery, and the impulse once given, one church vied with another
in claiming the honour of apostolic foundation.[]
 L. Duchesne, Les anciens recueils de légendes apostoliques in Compte-rendu du troisiême Congrès scientifique international des Catholiques, Brussels,
vol. v., 1894, pp. 67 and following.
In the East these claims appear to have had their origin in a literary fraud. The
forger who disguised himself as Dorotheus of Tyre drew up a list of the names of all the
persons mentioned in the New Testament, and bestowed upon each one an Episcopal See. He
proceeded with so much haste that he included various names that obviously had never been
borne by a bishop; such as Caesar, which he borrowed from the words of St. Paul, "
All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar's household " (Phil. ii.
22), without realising that the Caesar in question was no other than Nero.[]
 Houtin, La controverse de I'apostolicité de l'Eglise de France, 3rd
edition, Paris, 1903. In other countries also people have taken pleasure in concocting
similar legends, so flattering to national vanity. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
xii., pp. 458, 462; vol. xviii., P. 402.
Among the churches of the West, and more especially among those of France, pretensions
to apostolicity  did not spring up with quite the same uniform impulse, and this is
not the place to investigate the respective parts played by popular imagination and by
literary fiction in the elaboration of these celebrated legends. What is important to note
is that the inventors of these ambitious narratives could always count upon the complicity
of the multitude in every enterprise that tended to flatter local sentiment.[]
 A title of honour which the Greeks have been unequal to refusing to
any of the holy bishops who were more or less contemporary with the Council of Nicaea was
that of having sat among the "three hundred and eighteen fathers". One must
therefore not be over-anxious to give credit to those biographers who confer this
distinction on their heroes, Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xviii., p. 54.
For we must not expect of people in the aggregate either keen intelligence or an
enlightened morality. Taken collectively they are wholly devoid of that sense of
responsibility which causes an individual to hesitate before a dishonest or irregular
action. They have no scruples, and as everybody relies on his neighbour to examine the
validity of the evidence brought forward, nothing is more easy in dealing with a crowd
than to strike the chord of patriotism, vanity or self-interest. It matters, therefore,
very little whether the interested imaginings of " apostolic " or other claims
are of literary origin, or whether created by the people they have been simply
disseminated-by hagiographers who have become parties to the fraud by arranging and
embellishing them. In either case they belong to the category of products of legendary
growth, and constitute only the normal development of popular ideas and aspirations in the
matter of ecclesiastical origins.
Thus freed from all trammels the ambitious designs of the people know no limit, and
their audacity does not recoil before any obstacle. Neither time nor  distance will
prevent them from claiming as their own special property any saint whom they may elect to
honour and whose glory they may desire to see reflected upon themselves.
Every one is familiar with the legend of the great St Catherine. Both by her birth and
by her martyrdom her biographers have connected her with the town of Alexandria. This has
in no way deterred the Cypriots, thanks to a series of ingenious and discreditable
artifices, from annexing a saint of whom the cultus no less than the legend has always
been as popular in the Greek as in the Latin Church.
Now Stephen of Lusignan declares that at Famagusta he read the Greek text of a life of
St. Catherine in which one learnt, first of all, that the famous Costos, father of the
saint, was not King of Egypt at all, but King of Cyprus, and in proof of this that he
bestowed his name on the town of Salamis, afterwards known as Constantia. At some
political crisis Diocletian transferred Costos to Alexandria and confided to him the
government of Egypt. It was at this period that Catherine was born. It is well known with
what care she was brought up, and how proficient she became in all the liberal arts. After
the death of her father she returned to the island of Cyprus, where her uncle, learning
that she had become a Christian, had her thrown into prison at Salamis-where the actual
prison was shown in the time of Lusignan nd then sent her back to Egypt, where the
Emperor Maxentius, despairing of her recantation, had her put to death. She suffered her
martyrdom at Alexandria, which, adds the chronicler, caused it to be said that she was a
native of that town.[]
 The text of Lusignan is quoted by J. Hackett, A history of the
orthodox Church of Cyprus, London, 1901, p. 395.
 It might have been supposed that the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus would have been
sufficiently protected against similar attempts both by their celebrity and by the
marvellous details of the legend. Nevertheless the grotto where they slept their sleep of
three hundred years has been shown in the neighbourhood of Paphos.[] Stephen of
Lusignan expresses some surprise, but tries to persuade himself that the legend might
refer to a different group from that of Ephesus.[]
 "Nella citth di Paffo è una spelonca: la qual dicono esser
delli sette dormienti. Pero, noi ritroviamo nelli leggendarii che li sette dormienti erano
in Epheso, niente di meno essi cittadini di Paffo dicono ab antiquo esser chiamata quella
spelonca di santi sette dormienti: et possono esser altri di quelli di Effeso."
Quoted by Hackett, as above, p. 456.
 Concerning the localisation of the legend in the East see J. de Goeje, De
legende der Zevenslapers van Efeze, Amsterdam, 1900, 25 Pages. The various groups on
which the title of Seven Sleepers has been conferred are discussed in the Acta SS., July,
vol. vi., pp. 375-76.
St. Savinus is a martyr to whom honours are known to have been paid in the sixth
century [] at Spoleto, where a basilica [] was erected to his memory. The
inhabitants of Spoleto naturally regard him as their compatriot, but he is also claimed by
those of Fermo, who possess his relics, and by those of Monselice. At Monte San Savino he
has been made into a bishop of the neighbouring town of Chiusi. As for the people of
Vaenza, they invented a sojourn of the saint within their territory, and, after his
martyrdom at Spoleto, a translation of his relics. Later on they attempted to Pass him off
as their first bishop.[]
 Gregorii I., Reg., ix., 59. M. G.; Epist., vol. ii., 3, p. 82.
 Paul the Deacon, Hist. Langobard., 1. iv., M. G.; Scr. rer. Langob., p. 121.
 F. Lanzoni, La passio S. Sabini a Savini in the Römische
QuartaIschrift, vol. xvii., 1903, pp. 1-26.
 The bonds which the people seek to establish between themselves and a favourite
saint are not always as close as this. Often they are satisfied with the honour of having
received him, alive or dead, within their city walls, and then all that is necessary is to
imagine a journey which need in no way affect the mainlines of his history. I tis by means
of this simple artifice that St Nicephorus, the celebrated martyr,[] has become a local
saint in Istria,[] and that St. Maurus has been claimed by so many towns-Rome, Fondi,
Fleury, Lavello and Gallipoli, without counting Parenzo.[]
 Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, n. 6085.
 Ibid., n. 6086.
 Analecta Bollandianna, vol. xviii., pp. 370-80.
We have now seen something of the processes of the anonymous author who creates
legends. As he himself does not hold the pen, we have usually been compelled to have
recourse to the hagiographer who registers his tales and discoveries. But so far we have
only consulted this latter agent in those things in which he is the echo of the popular
voice. In the following chapter we shall attempt to trace out what is specially his own,
and to lay bare the secrets proper to his craft.
CHAPTER III: THE WORK OF THE HAGIOGRAPHER.
The meaning of the term "hagiographer "-Literary
methods - Moralities - Ancient ideas concerning
history - Special views of mediaeval hagiographers.
The unconscious mental processes of the people when occupied with the manufacture of
stories about the saints leads, as we have shown, to a weakening and obscuring of
historical testimony, sometimes even to its almost entire suppression. Have hagiographers
proved themselves more faithful guardians of historical tradition ?
Let us remember, in the first place, that we do not propose to include under the term
hagiographer every man of letters who has occupied his pen with the lives of saints. There
are among them some who have simply recorded what they have seen with their eyes and
touched with their hands. Their narratives constitute authentic historical memoirs no less
than works of edification. These candid witnesses, known to every one, and accepted on all
sides as furnishing the most pure sources of hagiography, will be excluded from our
present inquiry. Neither need we occupy ourselves here with that class of writers,
possessing both literary power-and the necessary information, who have under  taken to
discharge the functions of a historian, men like Sulpicius. Severus, Hilary of Poitiers,
Fortunatus, Ennodius or Eugippius. They are the last representatives of classic antiquity,
and their writings, instinct with art and life, must not be confused with the artificial
productions of later periods, which affect at times to be inspired by them. Again, we
write with similar respect of those conscientious biographers who, at various periods of
the Middle Ages, succeeded in closely following these models, and produced work the value
of which is in no way contested. We must reserve our full attention for those conventional
and factitious productions composed at a distance from the'events recorded and without any
tangible relation to the facts.
If we should mentally subtract from the martyrologies or lectionaries of the West and
from the menologies of the Greek Church the writings which every one is agreed in
accepting as historic documents, there will still remain a considerable collection of the
Passions of martyrs and of the lives of saints of an inferior quality, amongst which some
have been unanimously rejected by the critics, while others are regarded with suspicion.
The authors of this residuum-for the most part anonymous-are the hagiographers whose
methods we propose to study. The acts of the martyrs composed long after the
persecutions---I wish to emphasise this point---constitute the greater part of their
literary wares. We shall therefore occupy ourselves almost exclusively with this class of
compositions. It will be easy to extend to other writings what we shall have to say about
There is no need for drawing a distinction between Greek and Latin authors. If from a
purely literary point of view the former usually possess an advantage,  as regards the
historic sense there is nothing to choose between them, and in point of fact they
constitute but a single group.
The first question that should be addressed to an author the value of whose work one
wishes to estimate, concerns the class of literature that he professes to produce, for it
would be manifestly unjust to condemn, on the ground of historical inaccuracy, one whose
only aim was to write a work of fiction. Certain hagiographic documents are clearly of
this nature; they are parables or tales designed to bring home some religious truth or
some moral principle. The author relates as a means of teaching, and never pretends to be
dealing with real facts. just as the ancient story-tellers brought kings and princes on
the scene, so the Christian moralist would quite naturally fortify his precepts by the
authority of a martyr or an ascetic. And even when it was not a question of inculcating
some truth, but merely of giving pleasure to the reader by an attractive narrative, the
outlines of a saint's life at a time when lives of saints were the favourite reading of
the faithful, offered an element of interest that was not to be despised.
More than one solemn lesson has been preached to the people in the guise of a
hagiographic document. The celebrated Passio S. Nicefori[[l]] had no other aim, and
the same may be said of the histories of Theodulus the Stylite[]of St.
Martinianus,[] of Boniface of Tarsus,[]  and of Cyprian of Antioch, the theme of
which last may be recognised in the legend of Faust.[] What save a little religious
romance is the oft-repeated tale of the adventures of a pious woman hiding herself in a
monastery with the name and in the garb of a man, accused of misconduct and proved to be
innocent after her death? The heroine is called, as the case may be, Marina, Pelagia,
Eugenia, Euphrosyne, Theodora, Margaret or Apollinaria.[] It is obvious that this was a
favourite theme among pious story-tellers. In many cases they did not put themselves to
the trouble of inventing, but made shift with a simple adaptation. The story of Oedipus in
all its gloomy horror has been applied to others besides St. Gregory.[] Attributed in
turn to St. Albanus,[] an imaginary personage, to St. Julian the Hospitaller,[] to a
St Ursius [] and to others, it was widely read throughout the Middle Ages as the
biography of a saint.[] And which of us to-day is unaware that the life of the saints
Barlaam and Joasaph is merely an adaptation of the Buddha legend? []  the mind of
the monk John, to whom we owe it in its Christian form, it was nothing more than a
pleasant and piquant narrative serving as a vehicle for religious and moral instruction.
 Acta SS., Feb., vol. ii., pp. 894-95.
 Ibid., May, vol. vi., pp. 756-65. [See H. Delehaye, Les saints stylites, Brussels,
1923, p. cxviii-cxix. 3d ed.]
 Acta SS., Feb., voI. ii., p. 666: P. Rabbow, Die Legende des martinian in Wiener Studien, 1895, pp. 253-93.
 Ruinart, Act. mart. sincera, pp. 289-91.
 Zahn, Cyprian von Antiochien und die deutsche Faustsage, Erlangen, 1882, 8',
 See later, chap. vii. Compare Acta SS., Jan., vol. i., p. 258.
 Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, n. 3649-51.
 Catalogus codd. MSS. hagiogr. lat. bibl. Regiae Bruxellensis, vol. ii., pp.
444-56. Compare Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xiv., p. 124.
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. i i.,p. 974.
 Ibid., May, vol. i., pp. 926-27.
 It is well known that this legend has also been applied to Judas Iscariot. It may
be read in the Legenda Aurea, chap. xlv., De S. Mathia Apostolo. See
Creizenach, Judas Iscarioth in Legende und Sage des M.-A., 1875; V. Istrin, Die
griechische Version der Judas Legende in Archiv fiir slavische Philologie, vol.
xx., 1898, pp. 605-19.
 E. Cosquin, La I;gende des saints Barlaam et Josaphat, son origine, in the Revue
des Questions historiques, Oct., 1880; Kuhn, Barlaam und Joasaph in Abhandlungen
der k. bayer. Academle, i. Cl., vol. xx., 1893, pp. 1-88. G. Paris, Poèmes et
légendes du moyen age, pp. 181-215. Concerning devotion to the two saints, see Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxii., p. 131.
Nevertheless, fictions of this type are not without a certain danger. As long as they
continue to be read in the spirit in which they were written, all goes well. But a moment
comes, and in some cases comes very quickly, when people no longer recall the original
intention of the story. Indeed the classification of literature is not always an easy
task, and we can imagine our own great-grandchildren finding themselves much embarrassed
by some of our contemporary novels of a vivid and convincing realism. In such cases,
however, our ancestors suffered from no hesitations. In their eyes all noble narratives
which delighted them were history, and the heroes therein depicted were genuine saints
equal in all respects to those who enjoyed traditional honours.
It also happened-though less frequently than one might be tempted to suppose-that,
under favourable circumstances, these new saints quitted the literary sphere in which they
had been created and really became the object of public devotion. The fact is greatly to
be deplored wherever it occurred. Yet was it not the outcome of a natural evolution, and
is it not likely to occur wherever hagiographic documents are accepted in an uncritical
spirit? In point of fact it is quite unjust on such occasions to blame the hagiographer,
and he might well reproach us in our turn. We should first ascertain what he intended to
produce, and judge him only from his own standpoint.
 It is true that to the question of intention the hagiographer in most cases will
reply that he intended to write history. Hence, in such cases it is important to ascertain
what ideas he entertained concerning historical writing, and in what sense he understood
the duties of a historian. It goes without saying that he did not entertain the same ideas
on the subject as we do now.
When we attempt to arrive at some understanding of how the ancients themselves
understood history, we are less surprised at the naïve conceptions concerning it held by
men of letters in the Middle Ages. With rare exceptions -Polybius, who was never popular
with the general public, might be quoted as one-classic antiquity saw but little
difference between history and rhetoric. The historian holds, as it were, a place midway
between the rhetorician and the poet. And when one remembers how easy a conscience
rhetoricians had in matters of truth, it is not difficult to measure the distance that
separates us from antiquity in our manner of judging the qualifications and duties of a
historian.[] What for us is merely accessory, for the ancients was the very essence.
Then historians had regard, above all else, to literary effect; material truth troubled
them less, accuracy scarce at all, and of the critical spirit they had, as a rule, no
conception whatever. The main thing was to give pleasure to the reader by the interest of
the narrative, the beauty of the descriptions and the brilliancy of the style.
 Fine passages by the ancients on the ideal and duties of the
historian are well known.... Study of the sources and processes should rather understand
the concept that they had of historical genre and the manner of realizing it. Concerning
all this see H. Peter, Die geschichtliche Litteratur über die römische Kaiserzeit bis
Theodosius I, Leipzig, 1897, vol. i, p. 200-4; E. Norden, Die antike
Kunstprosa, Leipzig, 1898, vol. i, p. 81 ff. 3d ed.]
It can easily be imagined that the Middle Ages which, in a sense, were the inheritors
of the literary traditions of the ancients did not open up new paths  in the domain of
history. Above all, their tendencies were not in the direction of criticism. When the
historian no longer desired to be restricted to the rôle of annalist or witness he became
a compiler, one lacking discernment, and far more preoccupied with his readers' tastes
than with a laborious quest after truth. The ancients who might have been his models knew
as little as he did of those complicated processes by means of which we hope to
disentangle the true from the false, and to reconstruct the characteristic features of a
personage or a period. Moreover, the simple minds of these semi-barbarous scribes were
lacking in the very first qualification for exercising the critical faculty in however
slight a degree. They were devoid of guile, and they never suspected that a written
testimony might be false, or that a likely tale need not necessarily be true. The
confusion between history and legend was never-ending. History, in the Middle Ages, meant
everything that was told, everything that was written in books.
It goes without saying... that this elementary conception of history was shared by the
hagiographers. Their writings, no less than their own declarations, testify to the fact.
Nothing is more common in the prefaces to lives of saints than excuses for imperfections
of form and a preoccupation concerning style. The author frequently laments his
incapacity, and professes anxiety lest he should bore his reader. Meanwhile, he obviously
ignores the many delicate problems that assail the historian, and, save in very rare
instances, his only guarantee of the quality of his wares consists in commonplace
protestations of sincerity which leave the reader wholly unmoved if they do not actually
awaken his suspicions.
 Among the many hagiographers whom we might interrogate as to the manner in which,
in their day, their profession was understood, here is one-the author of the Martyrdom of
St. Fortunata-who, in his opening lines, testifies to the discredit into which his
predecessors and rivals had allowed the form of history which he professed to cultivate to
fall. "Sanctorum martyrum passiones idcirco minoris habentur auctoritatis, quia
scilicet in quibusdam illarum falsa inveniuntur mixta cum veris."[] The opening
words are far from ordinary, and one asks oneself with a certain curiosity how the author
proposes in the case of this new Passion that he has been engaged to write to give it that
authoritative character which is so desirable. He hastens to let us into his secret :
"Passionern sanctissima virginis Fortunatae hac ratione stilo propriae locutionis
expressi, superflua scilicet resecans, necessaria qumque subrogans, vitiata emendans,
inordinata corrigens atque incomposita componens."[]
 "The Passions of the holy martyrs are held to be of less
authority because in some of them falsehood is found mixed up with truth." Prologus
ad Passionem S. Fortunatcr v. et m. Mai, Spicilegium Romanum, vol. iv., p. 289.
 "My method has been to set down the Passion of the holy martyr Fortunata
in my own words, cutting away what was superfluous, adding anything necessary, amending
what was corrupt, correcting what was extravagant and rearranging what was
Thus a writer, who is quite conscious that everything is not for the best in the
hagiographic world, can suggest nothing more efficacious as regards the abuses he
chronicles than improved editing and an amended style. The idea of undertaking fresh
researches, of studying documents, of comparing and weighing evidence, has not even
occurred to him.
In point of fact the requirements of the reading  public did not go beyond his
suggestions. When the monk Theodoric arrived in Rome, the Canons of St. Peter's begged him
to turn his attention to the life of Pope St. Martin, of whom they possessed a biography:
"in tantum. rusticano stilo praevaricata atque falsata, quae doctas aures terrerent
potius quam mulcerent".[] It is the classic complaint of all those who would
persuade an author to rewrite a biography or a martyrdom. They are shocked by the
barbarity of the style. All else is indifferent to them.
 "So ill-favoured and corrupt owing to its barbarous style as to
horrify rather than charm learned ears." Theodorici monachi pralatio in vitam S.
Martini papae, Mai, Vol. cit., p. 294. [On the monk Thierry, read A. Poncelet, in Analecta
Bollandiana, Vol. Xxvii, P. 5-27. 3d ed.]
The hagiographer, then, is inspired by the ideas of history current in his day.
Nevertheless he writes with a special and clearly defined object, not without influence on
the character of his work. For he does not relate simply in order to interest, but above
all else to edify. Thus a new form of literature is created which partakes at once of the
nature of biography, panegyric and moral instruction.
The inevitable pitfalls are too familiar to need recapitulation. It follows from the
very purpose of his writing that the panegyrist is not bound to draw a portrait of which
every detail is in precise accordance with the truth. Every one knows that he is painting
an ideal picture, and that he is free to omit those aspects in which his hero appears to
less advantage. In the same way the eulogy of a saint was held incompatible with the
slightest suggestion of blame, and as the saints themselves were subject to human
infirmities the task of the hagiographer intent on sacrificing nothing to truth presents
difficulties of a somewhat delicate nature.
 His fidelity, as a rule, depends largely on his state of mind. If, for instance,
while pursuing his aim of edification, he can persuade himself that the sins of the saint
before and even after his conversion, far from clouding his glory, actually enhance the
triumph of divine grace, he is not likely to leave the more human side of his hero in the
shade, and will beware of placing him on those inaccessible heights which discourage
imitators. But there exists a school of hagiographers who would gladly strike out the
denial of St. Peter from the Gospel, in order not to tarnish the aureola, of the prince of
the apostles. They submit themselves, more than we could wish, to the stern exigencies of
their craft. But before we condemn them as faithless historians, we should ask ourselves
whether the name of history, as we moderns understand it, should be applied to their
writings at all.
Nor must we omit to bear in mind a further circumstance which assists us to grasp the
attitude of the mediaeval hagiographer. He was acquainted with two species of books: those
in which every one was obliged to believe, i.e., Holy Scripture in all its parts, and
those to which no one was compelled to give credence. He was acutely conscious of the fact
that his own writings belonged to the latter category, and that his readers were fully
aware of it. Thus for him some books contained absolute truth, others only relative truth,
and this conviction naturally gave him an easy conscience in regard to historic
exactitude. Hence the feigned indignation, so frequently met with among hagiographers
against all who do not give credence to their narratives. It betrays the man whose
conscience is not entirely clear.
Sources - False attributions - Written Tradition - Oral
Tradition - Pictorial Tradition-Relics of the Past -
Choice of Sources - Interpretation of Sources - Inscriptions - Use of the various
Categories of Documents.
We have already seen in what sense our pious authors usually interpreted their duties
while professing to discharge the function of a historian. We have now to examine how they
exercised it, and what historical elements we may look for in their work. Here, as always,
it is a case of solving in each individual instance the twofold problem: What sources of
information had they at their disposal, and what use did they make of them?
As a general rule the hagiographer is not very eager to inform his readers from whence
he has drawn his information. He may even display a certain affectation, not infrequently
met with in classical authors, in hiding the sources of his knowledge. At other times he
may pose as an ocular witness of facts drawn from some written document,[] or of
incidents that he himself has invented. For if chroniclers worthy of credence [] have
made justifiable use of the scriptural phrase, Quod vidimus oculis nostris quodperspeximus
(I John i. 1),[] there have also been no lack of impostors to abuse it.[] 
others have appropriated the familiar formula of Eusebius when he describes the
persecution of Diocletian in Palestine, ho kath' hemas diogmos,[[l]] and by this means
have passed themselves off as contemporaries.[] Above all, must we beware of authors
who profess to have discovered engraved tablets.[]
 An example of this may be found in an author of the Carlovingian
period, who when re-writing the life of St. John of Rome (+ about the year 544) by Jonas,
introduces the following phrase: Et ne quis hoc fabulosum putet
esse quod dicimus, referente viro venerabili Agrippino diacono, ipsius Agrestii filio,
cognovimus. See also M. G.; Scr. rer. Merov., vol. iii., p. 504.
 Passio Perpetuae, i., 5.
 "What we have seen with our eyes. what we have beheld."
 Passio S. Andrew, n. 1. Bonnet, Acta apostolorum apocrypha, vol. ii.,
1, p. 1. Cf. Acta Barnaba, n. 1; ibid., vol. ii., 2, p. 292.
 "The persecution of our own time."-De Martyribus Palestina, 3, 6,
8. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp. 122, 127.
 Passio S. Sebastianae, n. 1. Acta SS., June, vol. vi., p. 60.
 The proceeding was already familiar to the novelists of antiquity. E. Rohde, Der
griechische Roman, p. 271.
We must assume, so numerous are the examples of it, that the hagiographer felt
justified in making use of the literary fiction which consists in speaking in the name of
a disciple of the saint in order to give greater weight to his narrative. We are all
acquainted with Eurippus, the pretended disciple of St. John the Baptist;[] with
Pasicrates, the servant of St. George;[] Augarus, the secretary of St. Theodore;[[6[[
Athanasius, the stenographer of St. Catherine;[] Nilus, the companion of St. Theodotus;
[] Theotimus, the attendant of St. Margaret;[] Evagrius, the disciple of St.
Pancratius of Tauromenium;[] Florentius, the servant of SS. Cassiodorus, Senator and
Dominata;[] Gordianus,  the servant of St. Placidus; and Enoch, the witness of
the doings of St. Angelo.[] The above list might be considerably augmented.
 A. Vassiliev, Anecdota Graco-Byzantina, Moscow, 1893, p. 1. 5 Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca. p. 47, n. 3, 6.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. ii., p. 359.
 Viteau, Passion des Saints Ecatérine et Pierre d'Alexandrie, Paris, 1897,
 Acta SS., May, vol. iv., p, 149. Also Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii.,
 Acta SS., July, vol. v., pp. 31-32.
 Catal. codd. hag. graecorum bibliotheca Vaticana, Brussels, 1899, p. 02.
 H. Delehaye, Saint Cassiodore in Mélanges Paul Fabre, Paris, 1902,
 Acta SS., Oct., Vol. iii., pp. 114-38.
 Ibid., May, Vol. ii., pp. 803-30.
Another device was to place history under the patronage of some well-known name. Thus
the Passion of SS. Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus[] is supposed to have been written
by St. Athanasius; the history of the image of Camuliana, is attributed to St. Gregory of
Nyssa[] and so on.
 Analecta Bollandiana, Vol. Xviii., p. 405,
 E. von Dobschütz, Christusbilder, p. 12.
Hence it becomes useless to interrogate the hagiographers themselves - it is their
writings we have to examine, and to try to distinguish the elements of which they are
The classification of historical sources suggested by Droysen can be conveniently
applied to hagiography. They may be grouped in two broad categories: tradition and
In the first category we recognise primarily written tradition, i.e., narratives,
annals, chronicles, memoirs, biographies, historical inscriptions and every other kind of
writing.' It seems superfluous to point out that all these classes of documents, according
to circumstances, have been at the disposal of hagiographers. But it would be a mistake to
conclude that lack of documents would usually restrain them from undertaking the task of
historians or from writing the lives of saints. We must not necessarily conclude that they
themselves were fully informed because they furnish the reader with a profusion of
details. We shall see later by what means they supplemented inadequate sources.
 Another error, very widely spread, is to assume that in the first centuries of the
Christian era authentic accounts were in existence of all the martyrs who were honoured
with public worship, and to infer that the documents which clearly belong to a later date
were derived from original contemporary sources.
Thanks to special circumstances the Church in Africa was, in this respect, in a
privileged position. Yet even here we must not exaggerate its resources. St. Augustine,
speaking of St. Stephen, whose martyrdom is related in the Acts of the Apostles, made use
of these significant words: "Cum aliorum martyrum. vix gesta inveniamus quae in
solemnitatibus eorum. recitare possimus, huius passio in canonico libro est ". It
remains none the less true that the average value of hagiographic documents from Africa is
very much higher than that of the materials bequeathed to us by most other Churches.
 "While in the case of other martyrs we can scarcely find
sufficient details about them to read in public on their festivals, this saint's martyrdom
is set forth in a book of the canonical Scriptures." -Sermo, 315, n. 1, Migne,
P. L., Vol. xxxviii., p. 1426.
Unhappily the mistake has been made of assuming in regard to others what is in reality
only true of this solitary instance. On the faith of a text which has since been appraised
at its proper value, various scholars have asserted that, in the Roman Church during the
years of persecution, there existed a body of notaries entrusted with the duty of
collecting the acts of the martyrs, and of this supposed corporation unfair advantage has
been taken to give to the narratives of the Roman Legendarium a historic authority to
which they have no sort of claim.[] It is certain that in the fourth  century, when
Damasus placed his famous inscriptions on the tombs of the martyrs, the people of Rome
were ignorant of the history of the greater number of them.[] When the necessity made
itself felt of providing a circumstantial narrative, the hagiographers; had to dispense
with any appeal to written tradition, for such did not exist.
 See Duchesne, Le Liber Pontilicalis, Vol. i., pp. c.-ci.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., p. 239; Dufourcq, Les gesta des
martyrs romains, p. 24 ff.
A second source of information is oral tradition : the reports of contemporaries
or eye-witnesses, accounts of indirect witnesses and narratives circulating among the
people, in a word every unwritten historical or legendary report that might be used by the
editor of the life of a saint. No doubt it has happened at times that hagiographers have
gathered precious information from the lips of witnesses who spoke from first-hand
knowledge. But how far more often must they have been satisfied with a tradition which had
suffered from its transmission through tortuous channels. We have seen in the previous
chapter how an incident preserved in the popular memory may undergo unconscious distortion
and with what strange accretions the history of a hero may sometimes be enriched. The
hagiographer has constantly found himself confronted by legendary narratives, the only
ones with which oral tradition could furnish him.
It is scarcely necessary to point out that it is not always easy to determine the
precise origin of legendary data for which a hagiographer may make himself responsible.
They areas likely to have been supplied him by literary as by oral tradition, and not
infrequently he may have drawn from his own resources what we should at first be tempted
to mistake for folk tales of spontaneous growth.  After all, that which a whole people
ends by saying must have been enunciated in the first place by an individual, and why
should not the hagiographer who holds the pen have been the first to formulate some
legendary detail? It is always with this mental reservation that we must accept oral
tradition as met with in written documents.
Thirdly, pictorial tradition must not be neglected, for it plays an important
part in hagiography. Artists, as a rule, seek their inspiration in written or oral
tradition. But at the same time it may happen that both these sources enrich themselves
from the creations of painters and sculptors who transform and give back to them the ideas
they had previously borrowed. We know beyond a doubt that certain authors of legends were
directly inspired by the frescoes or mosaics before their eyes, among others Prudentius in
his description of the martyrdom of St. Hippolytus.[] The panegyric of St. Euphemia by
Asterius of Amasea is merely the description of a series of frescoes,[] and in the
panegyric of St. Theodore attributed to Gregory of Nyssa the orator draws the attention of
his audience to the paintings of the basilica.[] More than one legend, as we shall see,
owes its origin to the fantasy of some artist, or to a mistaken interpretation of some
 Peristeph., xi.
 Migne, P. G., vol. A., p. 336.
 Ibid., vol. x1vi., p. 737.
Certain hagiographers have made a somewhat unexpected use of pictorial tradition. In
the synaxaries of the Greek Church numbers of the biographies of illustrious saints
conclude with a detailed portrait which in its precision would appear to reveal an
eye-witness. When studied closely, however, it becomes obvious that these descriptions are
simply borrowed from those  manuals of painting from which Byzantine artists copied
the features of the unchanging physiognomies of their saints.[] For those who have not
recognised their origin the portraits might possess a quite exaggerated importance.
 See Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanx, Propylaeum ad Acta
SS. Novembris, p. lxvi.
This then is what tradition, in its various forms, can supply to the hagiographer: a
more or less faithful picture of the past and certain traits of individual character. But
the past has at times bequeathed to us something of itself, a building, an instrument, an
authentic document. In the same way we often possess more of the saints than a mere
memory; we may have their relics, their shrine, sometimes even their writings. From all
these the historian draws inspiration; often indeed the hagiographer possesses no other
documents than these relics of the past, a hallowed corpse, a tomb visited by
pilgrims, a feast celebrated each year on the day of death. He knows this is insufficient
to satisfy the eager curiosity of the people. If in spite of the lack of material he feels
compelled to gratify popular taste we can guess what the result must be.
We have now enumerated the ordinary sources of information at the hagiographer's
disposal. Let us suppose him well furnished with materials, and we will try to watch him
at his work. The bent of his mind will betray itself in his choice of documents and items
of information, in the interpretation he puts upon them, and in the way he wields them
In the first place, we must not expect a very judicious choice from our man of letters,
who is forced to restrict himself and to give the preference to one authority rather than
another. He has never learned how to  weigh evidence, and all his sources appear to
him of equal value. Hence he mingles the historic element indiscriminately with legendary
lore, and it is not this last which goes to the wall when space forbids a lengthy
Two hagiographic collections which first saw the light, one at the dawn of the Middle
Ages, the writings of Gregory of Tours on the martys and confessors, the other the Golden
Legend, at its culminating point, allow us to observe, so to speak in the very act, the
methods of pious writers compelled to restrict themselves in their narrative. In both
cases they had copious materials at their disposal, and deliberately neglected the sources
that would have interested us the most in order to devote all their attention to the more
marvellous features which betray in a marked degree their legendary character.[]
 A similar preference betrays itself very clearly in the Greek life
of St. Gregory the Great, which was composed, as we have attempted to show elsewhere, by
means of selected extracts sent by the Greek monks of the Coelian Hill to Constantinople, Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxiii., pp. 449-54. [Several additional sentences at this
point in the 3d ed. speak of the difference in the materials available to Gregory and to
Voragine, the author of the Golden Legend.]
In this they merely followed popular taste, instinctively drawn as we have seen towards
everything that is miraculous and tangible, and it is perhaps to this very tendency that
we must attribute the loss of the acts of a large number of saints who had enjoyed a
widespread popularity. Thus, without wishing to affirm that there have ever existed
written accounts of the deaths of the celebrated martyrs Theodore and Menas, whose cultus
can be accurately localised, it is quite natural that the extraordinary interest displayed
by the people in the fabulous tales circulated concerning them, should have 
encouraged the hagiographers to neglect more and more the more sober material furnished by
their acts and even to eliminate it altogether. The study of manuscripts indeed has
revealed the permanent fact that between a purely historical document and a touched-up
version, adomed with fantastic developments and interlarded with fables, a mediwval public
rarely hesitated. It almost always happens that it is the less simple version which is
preserved in the greater number of manuscripts, while often enough the primitive
composition is only to be found in a single copy.[]
 This fact is easily verified by means of the catalogues of Latin and
Greek hagiographic manuscripts published by the Bollandists, both separately and in nearly
all the volumes of Analecta Bollandiana since 1882.
The historical value of a work does not depend solely on the choice of authorities, but
also on the interpretation put upon them and the treatment to which they are subjected. We
might relate here, did we not fear to wander too far from our subject, what hagiographers
and their assistants have occasionally been capable of deducing even from such documents
as it required no special aptitude to interpret. The clearest texts may sometimes be
misunderstood, and give rise to the most unexpected inferences. We must, however, restrict
ourselves to one or two examples.
It is known that the Scillitan martyrs suffered death on 17th July, 180, in the
beginning of the reign of the Emperor Commodus. The wording of the Acts establishes it
quite clearly from the first: Praesente bis el Condiano consulibus XVI kal. Augustas. The
first name was wrongly understood, and some one or other mistook it for a participle. This
participle was  exchanged for an equivalent, or something that was considered such: Preasidente,
praestaxte, exsistente. At the same time Condianus became Claudianus, then Claudius,
who in his turn was identified with the consul of that name in the year 200. Now in that
year there were two emperors reigning side by side. The imperator mentioned in the
text was easily corrected into imperatores. There was then nothing left to do save
to add the names of the emperors Severus and Caracalla. This was done without, of course,
any one suspecting what a revolution this apparently justifiable correction would
introduce into the chronology of the Christian persecutions. We see from the result what
comes of not being able to distinguish a name from a participle![]
 This series of alterations has been admirably exposed by M. P.
Monceaux, Histoire littéraire de I'Afrique chretienne, vol. i., Paris, 1901, p 62
If the name Amphibalus has been conferred on the saintly confessor to whom St. Alban of
Verulam gave shelter, it is merely because Greoffrey of Monmouth mistook a chasuble for a
 J. Loth, Saint Amphibalus in the Revue Celtique, vol.
ii., 1890, pp. 348-49.
In the passion of St. Fructuosus and his companions may be read the following
interesting dialogue between the judge Aemilianus and the martyr: Episcopus es?
Fructuosus episcous dixit: Sum. Aemilianus dixit: Fuisti. Et jussit cos sua sententia
vivos ardere.[] A copyist, failing to perceive the sarcasm of the judge,
read fustibus in the place of fuisti. The word by itself having no meaning,
our hagiographer supplied boldly, Fustibus eos sternite, thus adding a fresh 
torture to the martyr in Order to justify an inaccurate reading. []
 "Art thou a bishop?" Fructuosus, the bishop, said: "I
am". Aemilianus replied: "Thou hast been". And he sentenced them to be
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii. p. 340.
It was possibly also a very slight error of some copyist which transformed into a
miracle a quite natural incident related in the Acts of St Marciana. A lion, let loose in
the arena, sprang furiously upon her, and stood over her with its paws on her chest; then
having smelt her, turned away without doing her any injury: martyris corpus oderatus
eam ultra non contigit.[] The author of a hymn in honour of St. Marciana has been
led to confuse odorare with adorare; unless indeed he himself wished to
embellish the narrative of the hagiographer by writing:-
 Ibid., Jan., vol. i., p. ;69.
"Leo percurrit percitus
Non comesturus virginem."[]
 The lion bounds forward to adore, not to devour the virgin maid. Ibid., p. 570. See E. Le Blant, Les Actes des martyrs, p. 30.
We must not omit to mention here a whole series of gross errors due to the carelessness
of compilers of synaxaries or martyrologies who had summary methods of their own for
dealing with any difficulties they might meet with in their editorial duties. Thus what
could be more improbable than the feast of St Babylas with the three children in
competition with that other St. Babylas and his eighty-eight companions on the same date
and with a more or less identical history? The origin of this duplication was an
abbreviation in two letters which was mistaken for a number of two figures. A momenes
reflection should have sufficed to correct the mistake. But our learned editors preferred
 to lengthen out the list of the saints.[] In the same spirit they invented the
three groups of SS. Cosmas and Damian, without realising the absurdities they were gaily
accumulating.[] Compared with such enormities the duplication of St. Martin, thanks to
a mere question of dates, appears a venial offence.[] It is probable that a similar
origin must be assigned to the double St. Theodore of the Greeks and the Latins.[] The
two feast-days have given rise to two legends, and in this instance the man of letters
would seem to have been the guilty party. For the common people, as we have seen, have
their own ways of simplifying matters. They are more likely to fuse two personages
together, than to create two in the place of one.
 Les deux Saints Babylas in Analecta Bolland., vol.
xix, pp. 5-9.
 "It should be known," say the synaxaries gravely, "that there are
three groups of martyrs of the names of Cosmas and Damian, those of Arabia who were
decapitated under Diocletian, those of Rome who were stoned under Carinus, and the sons of
Theodota who died peacefully," Synaxarium eccesiae Constantinopolitanae, 1st
July, p. 791.
 St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, 12th November; St. Martin, Bishop of France, 12th
November; Synaxarium, pp. 211, 217.
 The Greeks celebrate the feast of one St. Theodore (stratelates) on 8th
February, and another (tiro) on the 17th. The Latins celebrate the two saints
respectively on 7th February and 9th November.
We need not revert here to the curious explanations which popular imagination has
occasionally invented concerning certain carved monuments of which the meaning was
obscure.[] The hagiographers accepted such explanations with zest and embodied them in
their narratives. If it was the people who created the legend of the "cephalophorous
" or head-bearing saints, it was propagated by the hagiographers who bestowed upon it
that special authority which the uneducated always accord to the written word.[]
 See above, p. 45. [In the 3d ed. there is a slight expansion of this
 M. E.-A. Stückelberg, Die Kephalophoren, in Anzeiger für Schweizerische
Altertumskunde, 1916, p. 78, has drawn up a long list of saints whom legend has made
cephalophorous, and the list could easily be lengthened. 3d ed.]
 It has been said with truth that in all probability the Passion of St.
Eleutherius[] was partially inspired by the paintings or mosaics that adorned his
sanctuary. More especially the scene in which Eleutherius, seated on a hillock, preaches
to the animals grouped around him, recalls the familiar representations of Orpheus. And
here a noteworthy detail presents itself. The writer asserts that the animals who listened
to the saint, not being able to praise God with their voices, all lifted up the right
foot. Obviously he had seen in the mosaic representations of animals walking.[]
 Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, I martirii di S. Teodote e di S.
Ariadne, in Studi e Testi, 6, p. 145; the Passion, p. 149-61.
Our chroniclers have frequently had to pronounce on more embarrassing problems than
these, and we may well ask whether their learned solutions-learning in this matter is a
very relative term-are invariably worth more than the interpretations of the ignorant
public. But for ourselves, who wear out our brains in attempting, and often
unsuccessfully, to re-establish, with the help of the best manuscripts, the primitive
readings of the Hieronymian Martyrology, why should we express surprise at the little
blunders committed by our ancestors, as when they turned the eighty4hird mile of a Roman
road, lxxxiii mil[iario], into eighty-three martyred soldiers, lxxxiii mil[ites]?[] One
may read without much trouble in the Hieronymian Martyrology under the date of 11th June: Romae
via Aurelia miliario V. Basilidis. Tripoli Magdaletis [] These are two separate
entries commemorating a Roman and a Phoenician martyr. In the Middle Ages it was
transformed into a single group of three, Basilidis, Tripodis et  Maldalis,
and thus a new saint was created out of the slightly disfigured name of a town.[]
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xiii., p. 164.
 In the 3d ed. this is given under date of 12 June.]
 An account of the translation of the three martyrs quoted by the priest Leo in his
prologue to the Passion of SS. Rufus and Respicius has been lost, A. Mai, Spicilegium
Romanum, vol. iv., p. 292. An ancient author asserts that the three bodies were
presented by Honorius III to the basilica of Santa Maria Transpontina, A. mastelloni La Traspontina, Naples 1717, p. 93.
Our predecessors were also, it must be admitted, very mediocre epigraphists. They were
capable of translating the classical B[onae] M[emoriae] by B[eati] M[artyres].[]
Sometimes in the epitaph of a bishop they would come across the word sanctus, which
in those days was Simply a title of honour corresponding to "His Holiness," or,
as we should say, "His Lordship," and no one was competent to explain to them
that at the period in which these inscriptions were cut the word did not bear the
significance they attributed to it and which it only acquired at a later date. Mistakes of
this kind have procured the honours of an easy canonisation for more than one obscure
personage.[] But these are errors which would not always be avoided even in the age of
the Corpus inscriptionum.
2 See an example in G. Finazzi, Belle iscrizioni cristiane anteriori
al VII. secolo appartenenti alla chiesa di Bergamo, Florence, 1873, pp. 16, 30, 41; A. Mazzi, I martiri della chiesa di Bergamo, Bergamo,1883, p. 14. We have given
other examples of a similar nature in the article on St. Cassiodore in Mélanges
Paul Fabre, pp. 40-50. Some dozens of inscriptions hearing the abbreviation B. M.
before the name of the deceased have supplied the learned writers of Sardinia with an
equal number of martyrs. Thus, Hic jacet B. M. Speratus was read by them as Hic
jacet beatus martyr Speratus and so on. The interesting gallery of inscriptions
compiled on these principles is to be seen in D. Bonfant, Triumpho de los santos del
regno de Cerdena, En Caller, 1635, in fol.
 we have treated this question in Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xviii., pp.
407-11. [and later in the volume Sanctus, Brussels, 1927. 3d ed.]
It has happened only too frequently that inscriptions  have provided traps for
hagiographers that appear to us now of a very obvious kind, but into which none the less
they have tumbled headlong.[] We find, for instance, the epitaph of a virgin who is
described as digna et merita, a memorial formula in vogue at one period. Now there
existed a St. Emerita whose name was recognised in the second of the two epithets. The
first became quite naturally the name of another saint, Digna, the companion of Emerita,
and concerning these two noble sisters the hagiographers elaborated a highly dramatic and
most circumstantial history.[] From a mistranslation of an inscription by Pope Damasus,
that in honour of SS. Felix and Adauctus, there sprang a hagiographic romance of unusual
improbability which assumed the existence of two martyred brothers each bearing the name
of Felix.[] It was the erroneous interpretation of another Damasian[] inscription
which gave rise to the legend of the Orientals who came to Rome in order to carry off the
relics of SS. Peter and Paul. Disciplos oriens misit wrote Damasus, intending
simply to refer to the disciples of Jesus Christ who came from the East to bring the
Gospel  to Rome, The inscription concerning St. Agnes,[] and no doubt many
others,[] have equally been the means of revealing fresh details to the imagination of
 It needed sometimes only a word, even less than a word, to give rise
to the most extraordinary legends. In the inscription C. Julius. L. F. Caer. Strabs.
aed. cur. q. Ir. mil. bis. X. vir agr. dand. adtr. iud. pontif. (C. 1. L., vol. L, p.
278), the last two words were translated ivo(aeorum) PONTIF(ex), and men referred this to
the treaty of friendship between the Jews and the Romans quod rescripserunt in tabulis
oereis (I Mach. viii. 22). Hence the precise information contained in the Mirabilia (see Jordan, Topographie der Stadt Rom., vol. ii., pp. 470-71); In muro S.
BasiIii fuit magna tabula oenea, ubi fuit scripta amicitia in loco bono et notabili, quae
fuit inter Romanos et ludareos tempore Iudae Machaboei. It only Temains to add that
the inscription in question was not engraved on a bronze but on a marble slab.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp. 30, 40.
 Ibid., pp. 19-29.
 Ihm, Damasi epigrammata, n. 26.
 Ihn, Damasi epigrammala, n. 40.
 Not long ago Father Bonavenia attempted to deduce from that of SS. Protus and
Hyacinthus (Ihm, n. 49) proof that the Acts of St. Eugenia contain "un fondo di vero
da atti piu antichi e sinceri". Nuovo Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, vol.
iv., 1898, p. 80. Readers familiar with Damasian phraseology will not participate in
 See Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, S. Agnese nella tradizione e nella leggenda, Rome,
1899, p. 35.
An interesting example of a whole legend being suggested by the reading of an
inscription is that of Abercius. His journeys were mentioned in the celebrated epitaph;
the symbolic queen became the Empress Faustina, and the object of the journey the healing
of a princess possessed by an evil spirit.[] By means of various episodes which are
little more than reminiscences of other legends, the hagiographer in the end put together
a highly detailed narrative which met with the greatest success.[] In spite of this no
serious doubts should be entertained concerning the episcopacy of Abercius and the
traditional cultus rendered to him in his native town.[]
 The deacon Cyriacus, in the Acts of St. Marcellus, is summoned to
Rome for a similar purpose. It is a common occurrence which is to be found in the Acts of
SS. Vitus, Tryphon and Potitus, and also in the lives of St. Mathurinus and of St.
Naamatius, Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., p. 76.
 Acta SS., Oct., vol. ix., pp. 485-93; L. Duchesne, S. Abercius in Revue
des Questions historiques, vol. xxxiv., 1883, pp. 5-33; Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
xvi., p. 76. A useful contribution to the criticism of the Acts of St. Abercius may be
found in an article by F. C. Conybeare, Talmudic Elements in the Acts of Abercius in The Academy, 6th June, 1896, pp. 468-70.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xv., p, 333.
 It must, alas, be confessed that the erroneous interpretation of inscriptions, of
carved monuments and of other antiquities did not give rise to legends in the Middle Ages
alone. Before the days of De Rossi the majority of scholars who worked in the Roman
catacombs without any safe criteria by which to discern where cultus was really paid,
imagined they had discovered bodies of saints in a number of tombs before which the
pilgrims of ancient days never dreamt of making a halt.[] These relics, doubtful at the
best, were eagerly sought after, and the faithful frequently refused to be satisfied with
the bare name inscribed on the marble. On the model of the ancient Passions many new
legends were manufactured, which, while appearing reasonably probable, were eminently
suited to satisfy the pious curiosity of the faithful. The best known example of this is
the case of St. Philomena, whose insignificant epitaph has suggested the most ingenious
combinations, and has furnished the elements of a detailed narrative including even the
interrogatory of the martyr.[]
 Concerning relics from the catacombs there exists a decree of His
Holiness Leo XIII dated 21st December, 1878. See Duchesne, Les corps saints des
Catacombes in Bulletin critique, vol. ii., pp. 198-202.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvii., p. 469. A recent discovery by Signor
Marucchi, Osservazioni archeologiche sulle iscrizione di S. Filomena, Rome, 1904,
forces one to conclude that the famous epithet Pax tecum Filumena was not that of
the deceased woman (or perhaps man) found in the tomb at the time of the translation. See Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxiv., pp. 119-20.
The inaccurate identification of geographical names is responsible for another class of
errors, of less consequence it is true, as they have not extended to creating new objects
of veneration but merely to locating them. The reading Caeae Antonina in place of Nicaeae  appeared to confer on the town of Cea in Spain the right to claim St.
Antonina.[] The inhabitants of Scilla in Calabria imagined that the Scillitan martyrs
could only derive the name from their town. But the people of Squillace protested against
this identification, and claimed the Scillitans as their own fellow-citizens. Indeed they
championed these pretensions with so much assurance that in 1740 the Congregation of Rites
authorised them to celebrate the Mass and Office of St. Speratus and his companions.[]
In other places great efforts have been made to prove that St. Paul visited the country,
as may be seen from the title of a work by Giorgi: D. Paulus apestolus in mari quod
munc Venetus Sinus dicitur naufragus et milita Dalmalensi insuloe post naufragium hospes,
sive de genuine sigficatu duorum locorum in Actibus apostalorum.[] These
examples, from the very fact that they are comparatively recent, make us realise all the
better the methods of medieaval hagiographers, confronted with problems which were for
 Acta SS., March, vol. i., p. 26.
 Fiore, Della Calabria Illustrala, Naples, 1743, vol. ii., pp. 27-28.
 Venetiis, 1730, in 4o.
We have now seen the hagiographer face to face with his historical documents. He has
made his selection and has realised how much he can draw from them. How has he employed
This depends of course both on his particular aptitudes and his personal tastes. When
it is a question of written documents we do not hesitate to give our preference to the
hagiographer who copies them most slavishly and reproduces them with the greatest
fidelity, omitting as little as possible and adding nothing beyond  what is strictly
necessary. Cases may be quoted in which he has been satisfied with this modest rôle, and
we have a curious example of it in the collection of Metaphrastes. The famous life of St
Theoctista, written by an eye-witness, was transcribed almost literally, and merely
adorned with a new preface. But as the new editor-if indeed he is worthy of the
title--contented himself with giving utterance in his prologue to a few high-sounding
generalities, without taking the trouble to warm the reader of his method, he succeeded in
adding a new complexity to one of the most important problems in literary history, that of
Metaphrastes.[] From the very fact that he presented himself as the author of a piece
of writing filled with personal details, all these details were naturally attributed to
him with the result of making him nearly half a century older than he really was. In our
own day we apply an unflattering epithet to writers who freely appropriate the wares of
others, but in the Middle Ages no one resented being regarded as a plagiarist.
 We have referred to the matter in La vie de St. Paul le jeune et
la chronologie de Métaphraste in the Revue des Questions historiques, July,
1893. [See also the bibliography cited in Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca, 2d ed.,
p. 269. The texts of the Life of St. Theoctista have now appeared in Act. SS., Nov., Vol.
iii. p. 224-33. 3d ed.]
In most cases, as we know, the hagiographer submitted his material to a process of
preparation and adaptation which conferred on it in some measure the stamp of his
personality. He would put his documents in order and dress them up in his best style, and
without caring whether or not he robbed them of their documentary character, would amplify
them, combine them in various ways and create a work which, if not original, was such that
he was justified in passing it off under his own name.
It will be admitted that it is difficult to formulate any  general precepts
concerning a literature at once so vast and so varied. The use of historical sources and
the methods of composition may be studied in an author or in a series of documents that
are closely related,[] but not in a collection of narratives scattered over the wide
field covered by hagiographers of every nation and all periods. Nevertheless, without
prejudice to them it may be said that they not infrequently embarked on that perilous
course which leads to the embellishment of a tale in order that it may impress the reader
more vividly. Even classical historians occasionally gave way to a mania which one would
like to describe as innocent,[] and that writers in the Middle Ages succumbed
frequently to the temptation may be proved from certain cases where a comparison of texts
establishes the fact beyond dispute. The following two examples are selected from
comparatively recent lives of saints.[] It is easy to imagine the degree of licence
writers permitted themselves in ages of lesser culture.
 The reader must be referred here to an excellent study by M. F.
Lanzoni, La Passio Sabini o Savini in the Romische Quartalschrift, Vol.
xvii., 1903, pp. 1-26, in which the intimate relations between a whole series of Passions
are brought to light: Passio Laurentii, Stephani P.; Restituti, Marii et soc.; Serapiae et
Sabinm, Eusebii et Pontiani, Processi et Martiniani, Susannw, Callisti, Gordiani et
Epimachi, Primi et Feliciani, Viti et Crescentim, Marcelli P.; Petri et Marcellini,
 H. Peter, Die geschichtliche Litteratur über die Römische Kaiserzeit bis
Theodosius L, Vol. ii., Leipsig, 1897, p. 292.
 Recorded by Father E. Michael, Geschichte des deutschen Volkes vom dreizehnten
Jahrhundert bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, Vol. iii., Freiburg im Breisgau, 1903,
When St. Bernard came to preach the Crusade in the diocese of Constance, an archer in
the bodyguard of the Duke of Zahringen scoffed both at the preaching and the preacher by
declaring: "He can no more work  miracles than I can ". When the saint came
forward to lay his hands on the sick, the scoffer perceived him and fell senseless to the
ground, remaining unconscious for some time. Alexander of Cologne adds: "I was quite
close to him when this occurred. . . . We called the Abbot, and the poor man was unable to
rise until Bernard came to us, offered up a prayer and helped him to his feet." Not
one of the eye-witnesses says a word which would suggest a resurrection, from death. And
yet, a century later, Herbert, the author of a collection of St. Bernard's miracles,
Conrad, author of the Exordium, and Caesarius of Heisterbach all affirm that the
archer fell dead and that the saint restored him to life.[]
 See G. Huffer, Der heilige Bernard von Clairvaux, vol. i.,
Münster, 1886, pp. 92, 182.
Every one is familiar with the beautiful incident in the life of St. Elizabeth of
Hungary when, in the very bed she shared with her husband, she laid a miserable leper who
inspired disgust in every one, and whom no one would tend any longer. The indignant duke
rushed into the room and dragged off the bed-clothes. "But," in the noble words
of the historian, "at that instant God Almighty opened the eyes of his soul, and
instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the
bed."[] This admirable account by Thierry d'Appoldia was considered too simple by
later biographers, who consequently transformed the sublime vision of faith into a
material apparition. Tunc aperuit Deus interiores principis oculos wrote the
historian.[] On the spot where the leper had slept, say the modern  hagiographers,
there lay a bleeding crucifix with outstretched arms."
 Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, n. 2497.
 J. B. Menckenius, Scriptores rerum germanicarum, vol. ii., p. 1990.
Dearth of material and methods of supplementing it -
Amplification by means of stock incidents-Acts of
St. Clement of Ancyra - Compilation and adaptation-Life of St. Vincent Madelgarus
the process - Forgeries.
Hitherto we have almost exclusively treated of cases in which the editor of the life of
a saint follows the lines traced for him by the materials at his disposal. It often
happens that his task is less clearly marked out He may know the name of the saint,
sometimes even his qualification as martyr, confessor or bishop, and the shrine dedicated
to his memory. But popular tradition may have retained nothing further, and yet in spite
of this it becomes a question of satisfying the devout curiosity of pilgrims and pious
persons, and of supplying, from such meagre records, matter for edifying reading. Even
when writing somewhat lengthily concerning the saints Emeterius and Chelidonius,
Prudentius warns us that the necessary documents are lacking;[] while the author of the
passion of St Vincent plunges into his subject with the announcement : Probabile satis
est ad gloriam Vincentii martyris quod de scriptis passionis ipsius gestis titulum invidit
inimicus.[] This dearth of material, which does not appear to have checked in any
degree the fertility of his pen, is the common lot of a large number of 
hagiographers, who, for that matter, have been equally little inconvenienced by it. As
they were compelled to write, and frequently, so they themselves say, by order of their
superiors, they boldly took the only course open to them, and either made a generous use
of the method of development as practised in the schools, or else had recourse to
 Peristeph., i 73-78.
 "It is More than probable that the enemy of our race, jealous of the glory of
Vincent the Martyr, has robbed us of the title to fame which might be found in the written
record of his passion." -Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., p. 394.
The former method is the simplest, and has produced an abundance of colourless and
insipid narratives. Endowed with more or less imagination and fluency, innumerable
hagiographers have resigned themselves to the necessity of supplementing the scarcity of
documents by narratives founded on probability: omnia qua in reprasenti accidisse
credibile est, as Quintilian says (Vi. 2). Take, for example, a martyrdom. The setting
of the narrative is clearly outlined. First there must come a more or less detailed
account of the persecution. The Christians are being hunted out everywhere; large numbers
fall into the hands of the soldiers, and amongst them the hero of the tale; he is arrested
and thrown into prison. Brought before the judge he confesses his faith and suffers
horrible tortures. He dies and his tomb becomes the scene of innumerable miracles.[]
1 The process of development "in accordance with probability"
has not been abandoned by hagiographers even in our own day. A saint, St. Expeditus, whose
name is inscribed on the Hieronymian martyrology for the 18th or 19th of April under the
rubric Melitinae in Armenia, has become in accordance with this method "the
valiant leader of the Thundering Legion". See Dom Brrengier, Saint Expédit martyr
en Arménie et patron des causes urgentes in Missions catholiques, vol. xxviii.,
1896, pp. 128-31. See also Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xviii., p. 425; vol. xxv.,
Such, more or less, is the scheme on which every editor has to work. Each part is
capable of  development on lines clearly suggested by historians who have related
similar incidents, by other legends which serve as models and even by the analysis of the
situations, while for the most part the amplifications are full of those exaggerations
which are the prerogative of orators anxious to make the most of what they have to say.
Thus the picture of the persecution is always painted as black as possible;[] the
emperor or judge usually figures as a monster in human shape, thirsting for blood, having
no other aim than the destruction of the new faith throughout the world. Here, then, we
have the first of our stock subjects .[]
 The oratorical description of the persecution by St. Basil in the
panegyric on St. Gordius may serve as a model, Gamier, vol. ii., pp. 143-44.
[2 On all that follows see Les Passion des martyrs et les genres littéraires, p. 236-315.
Readers must not let themselves be deceived even when they think they recognise the
authentic phraseology of an edict. Nothing is more easy to imitate than the forms of an
edict, just as in our own day one might reproduce the terms of an Act of Parliament or of
a ministerial decree, and all the more easily when the document is intended for a public
the reverse of exacting in matters of phraseology.[]
 Edicts are frequent in hagiographic romances, and scholars have
sometimes been to the trouble of investigating them. See, for example, the edict in the Passio
S. Procopii to which Mr. Goodspeed has devoted several pages in the American
Journal of Philology, vol. xxiii., 1902, p. 68 ff. See also Analecta Bollandiana,
vol. xxii., p. 409. Signor P. Franchi de' Cavalieri, I martirii di S. Teodoto e
di S. Ariadne, p. 105, quotes several other examples. It should be observed that the Passio
S. Ephysii is copied from that of St. Procopius.
The interrogatory of the martyr is another of the favourite themes of the hagiographer,
and he depends more especially on this portion of his narrative to assist him in attaining
the normal length of the composition. He might, one would fancy, at least use such
dialogue to  bring into bolder relief the generous sentiments or the noble qualities
of the martyr, as was done by the writers of antiquity, who scattered conventional
discourses through their historical works just as modern writers scatter portraits. But it
is very rare that from among the questions and answers one can seize any personal and
characteristic trait. We find only dissertations on the absurdity of paganism and the
beauty of the Christian faith, speeches of an inconceivable improbability which would be
more appropriate on the lips of a pulpit orator than on those of a prisoner before a court
of justice in the course of a rapid criminal procedure. The triumphant eloquence of the
martyr is usually set off against the ignorance and vulgarity of the judge, unless indeed
the latter displays sufficient knowledge of the Scriptures and the Christian religion to
provoke some learned reply from the accused.
In many instances the hagiographer has not even taken the trouble to compose the -
harangue which he puts in the mouth of his hero; he has found it more convenient to
transcribe'-a chapter or extracts from some suitable treatise,[] a proceeding thanks to
which the apology of Aristides has been preserved to us in the history of SS. Barlaam and
Joasaph. To any one who has studied the authentic Acts of the martyrs it  is
superfluous to point out how falsely such rhetoric rings, and what a difference there is
between the short and touching answers of the martyrs inspired by the wisdom of the Holy
Ghost, and these studied declamations which at their best recall some school display.
 There is no general work in existence bearing on this subject. There
are, however, two useful works of recent date: G. Mercati, Note di letteratura biblica
e cristiana antica in Studi e testi, vol. V., Rome, 1901, pp. 218-26; Bidez, Sur
diverses citations et notamment sur trois passages de Mltalas retrouvis dans un texte
hagiographique in the Byzantinische Zeitschrift, xi., 1902, pp. 388-94. J.
Fuehrer in the Mittheilungen des k. d. archaeologischen Instituts, Roem. Abth.,
vol. vii., 1892, p. 159, has noted some borrowings from Clement of Alexandria by the
author of the Passion of St. Philip of Heraclea (Bibl. hag. lat., n. 6834). [See
also E. Klostermarm and E. Seeberg, Die Apologie der hl. Katharina, K6nigsberg,
1926. Cf. Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xlv, p. 151. 3d ed.]
After the interrogatory the torture of the martyr is the subject that lends itself best
to amplification. The simplicity of the final act of the tragedy in authentic chronicles,
as, for example, in the martyrdom of St. Cyprian, would scarcely please our pious
rhetoricians, who can conceive of no other way of establishing the heroism of the martyr
than by making him undergo lengthy and refined torments. They multiply his sufferings
without having to trouble themselves as to the limits of human endurance, for Divine
Providence is made to intervene to prevent the saint from succumbing beneath the agony
inflicted, and to allow the hagiographer to exhaust all the torments that his imagination
or reminiscences from his studies may suggest.
Undoubtedly the masterpiece in this line of composition is the Passion of SS. Clement
of Ancyra and Agathangelus. The scene of their torments is moved successively from a
nameless town in Galicia to Rome, hence to Nicomedia, to Ancyra, to Amisos, to Tarsus, and
finally back again to Ancyra. This perambulating martyrdom, diversified by the most
extraordinary miracles, is prolonged for no less than twenty-eight years, during which
time the following tortures are inflicted both on Clement and on his companion
Agathangelus by persecutors who include in their number the Emperors Diocletian and
Maximianus, and the Prefects Domitianus, Agrippinus, Curicius, Domitius, Sacerdon,
Maximus, Aphrodisius, Lucius and Alexander.
 To start with, Clement is hung up, his flesh torn with iron hooks, his mouth and
cheeks bruised with stones; he is bound to the wheel, beaten with sticks and horribly
mutilated with knives; his face is stabbed with stilettos, his jaws are broken and his
teeth drawn while his feet are crushed in iron fetters. Then the two martyrs together are
whipped with ox thongs and suspended from a beam; their bodies are scorched with flaring
torches and they are flung to the wild beasts. Red-hot needles are run into their fingers
under their nails and they are burned in quicklime and left there two whole days, after
which strips of skin are torn from them and they are once more beaten with rods. They are
stretched on iron bedsteads brought to a state of white heat, then thrown into a burning
furnace; this last torment lasts a day and a night. After that they are again beaten with
iron hooks, and a kind of harrow covered with iron points is set up and the martyrs are
flung against it. For his part Agathangelus undergoes in addition the torture of having
molten lead poured upon his head; he is dragged through the town with a mill-stone round
his neck and stoned. Clement alone has his ears pierced with red-hot needles, he is burnt
with torches and he receives more blows from a stick on his mouth and head At last after
having endured fifty strokes of the rod on several days in succession he has his head cut
off at the same time as Agathangelus.[]
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., pp. 459-60.
It is very rare that hagiographers carry their naïveté, or perhaps we should rather
say their audacity, to so high a pitch, and the accounts of the sufferings of the martyrs
do not usually reach this degree of improbability. Nevertheless, taken separately, the
various  chapters in the Passion of St. Clement of Ancytra represent accurately enough
the,, style of composition indulged in, and it is Only when they are at the end ;of their
own resources that the writers allow their heroies to die. After undergoing such amazing
torments St. Clement simply has his head cut off, and this is such an ordinary conclusion
to the most marvellous and terrible tortures, that some learned writers have seriously
asked themselves how it happens that the axe and the sword have proved efficacious
instruments of martyrdom when so many other methods have been of no avail. " it has
been suggested that the sword being the outward sign of power in society, it is the will
of God that it ,should not be frustrated by His providence which desires the maintenance
of public order as the guarantee of a hundred other interests. But might we not also say
that this happened as a Divine reprobation of the barbarous inventions to which tyrants
had recourse because their hatred was not satisfied by the simple death of the
Christians?"[] While bearing in mind the relative mildness of the Roman code one
cannot deny the cruelty of certain Petsecutors. But has the writer quoted above stated the
problem fairly, and ought the question not rather to be addressed to the hagiographers,
compelled in spite of everything to put a term to their rigmaroles and kill off their
heroes? The natural conclusion of the drama was after all the classical punishment, death
by the sword.
 Cahier, Caractéristiques des Saints, vol i., p. 307
The composition of the life of a saint who is not a martyr is regulated by similar laws
in all cases in which the author adopts the method of amplification. The narrative is
necessarily less dramatic and less interesting, but it more easily admits of developments.
Where  a complete biography of a saint is desired the life divides itself into three
parts. Before his birth: his nationality, his parents, his future greatness miraculously
prophesied; his life: childhood, youth, the most important events in his career, his
virtues, his miracles; lastly his cultus and miracles after death. In innumerable lives of
saints at least one of the points in the above programme is supplied by commonplaces, and
sometimes the whole biography is a mere string of them. The profession or quality of the
saint is also subjected to analysis. A bishop has not the same duties as a monk, neither
does an abbot practise the same virtues as a nun. Hence a diversity of episodes. In the
life of a holy bishop, for instance, it is essential that he should only accept
consecration under protest; for if he does not resist, it is obvious that he thinks
himself worthy of the episcopal throne, and if his own opinion of himself is so indulgent,
can he rightly be held up as a model of humility? If the subject of the biography is a
holy monk, then clearly he must be exemplary in all the duties appertaining to his
calling, and without risk of blundering one may describe his fasts and vigils and his
assiduity at prayer and spiritual reading. And as it is mainly through miracles that God
is pleased to make manifest the merits of His servants, one may take it for granted that
the saint, whatever his condition, was in the habit of healing the blind, causing the
paralytic to walk, driving out evil spirits and the like.
The methods we have just described, simple and natural as they appear, have not been
wholly restricted to hagiographers anxious to fill in the gaps left by tradition. We have
seen how the popular voice gladly attributes to its favourite hero the glories and virtues
 of others, while many a noble deed and striking incident has become the common
property of very diverse individuals. The pious writers of the Middle Ages have often, in
their need, imitated the importations so common in legends, and have unscrupulously
allowed themselves, in the interest of their saint, to pilfer narratives that have no sort
of connection with him. I am not referring to those frequent cases in which a similarity
of names is responsible for introducing wholly extraneous matter into a biography, as, for
example, when we find in the legend of St. Fronto of Perigueux an episode of markedly
exotic hue taken from an Egyptian legend concerning a namesake.[] I am speaking here of
importations to be accounted for neither by misconceptions nor yet by carelessness.
Sometimes it is merely a case of commonplaces on the Christian virtues which have been
copied out word for word; sometimes we have incidents which at a stretch might have
occurred and have been related in identical terms, but sometimes also we meet with
examples of wholly characteristic episodes which without any sort of apology have been
imported in their entirety from another biography.
 See Duchesne, Fastes épiscopaux de l'ancienne Gaule, vol.
ii., pp. 132-33.
I fully admit that one must beware of raising a cry of plagiarism on the strength of a
mere resemblance. The most disconcerting coincidences do occasionally occur, and I am
willing to quote a noteworthy example. If one were to read that on the same day the Church
celebrates two saints, who both died in Italy, whose conversion in both cases was effected
through the reading of the " Lives of the Saints that each founded a religious order
under one and the same title, and that both these orders were suppressed by two popes
 bearing the same name, one might well feel justified in declaring on the strength of
these characteristic features that a single individual had been multiplied into two, and
that he must have been inscribed twice over in the martyrology under different names. And
yet there exist two saints, strictly historical and even comparatively modern, of whom all
these particulars are true. St. John Colombini, who died at Siena, 31st July, 1367, was
brought back to the practice of the Christian virtues by reading the " Lives of the
Saints," and founded the order of the Jesuati which was suppressed by Clement IX St.
Ignatius of Loyola who died in Rome, 31st July, 1556, was touched by grace while reading
the " Lives of the Saints," which had been supplied to him in order to enliven
the tedium of convalescence; he founded the order of the Jesuits, suppressed, as every one
knows, by a later Clement. If I recall the fact it is not because such coincidences can be
frequent far from it, for it would be difficult to find an analogous example to the above,
which has been quoted here merely as a curiosity.[]
 Acta SS., July, vol. vii., pp. 333-54.
The naïve hagiographers of the Middle Ages, compelled to supplement the paucity of
primitive sources by more or less legitimate means, do not introduce us to any very
embarrassing dilemmas. As a rule their methods are simple, and their secrets are easily
The following, for example, shows the process by which the biographer of St. Vincent
Madelgarus honoured his patron with a literary composition of adequate dimensions.[]
 This life has been the object of a detailed study by Pére A.
Poncelet in the Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xii., pp. 422-40.
In the preface he begins by transcribing the  prologue from the life of St.
Erminus, to which he adds a phrase from Sulpicius Severus; there follows a second
introduction which reproduces, word for word, St. Gregory of Tours' preface to the life of
In order to describe the birth and early years of the saint, he accumulates
reminiscences from the life of St. Erminus, without speaking of others from members of St.
Vincenfs own family, St. Waldetrudis and St. Aldcgond, while the history of his marriage
is extracted literally from the Vita Leobardi by Gregory of Tours.
Vincent's son Landric embraces the ecclesiastical state -this is taken from the life of
St. Gallus by Gregory of Tours. The same author furnishes him with the greater part of a
vision, which fills one of the chapters in the life of St. Leobardus. St. Vincent enters
on the religious life and trains his followers: taken from the lives of SS. Martius and
Quintianus by Gregory of Tours. He gives himself up to prayer and penance and
practises all the religious virtues: taken from the life of St. Bavon. Knowing himself to
be on the point of death he confides his spiritual children to his son Landric - taken
from the life of St. Ursmar. He is buried within his monastery where he exercises his
power on behalf of the faithful who invoke him: taken from the life of St. Bavon. A blind
cleric recovers his sight on his tomb: this miracle is appropriated in its entirety from
Gregory of Tours, who relates it of St. Martin. We must add, moreover, to our plagiarist's
account six chapters from the life of St. Waldetrudis, which, it is true, served him as a
historic source, but which he transcribes word for word, besides numerous other
reminiscences which it would take too long to enumerate.
The lives of saints filled with extracts from other  lives of saints are
exceedingly numerous, and some are nothing more than a mere hagiographic anthology. One
can imagine the perplexity of the critic on finding the same facts related in the same
words of two different saints. He may well ask himself what faith can be placed in the
lives of St. Hubert, St. Arnold of Metz and St. Lambert of which several portions are
shared in common.[] One can guess what degree of importance he will attach to a
biography such as that of St. Remaclus, which is servilely imitated from the life of St.
 Acta SS., Nov., Vol. i., pp. 760-63.
 G. Kurth, Notice sur la plus ancienne biographie de saint Remacle in Bulletins
de la Commission royale d'histoire, 4th series, Vol. iii., Brussels, 1876, pp. 355-68.
Indeed, such has been the destitution of some editors that, not satisfied with
appropriating wholesale certain phrases of general application, or even interesting
episodes which seemed likely to prove effective in their pages, they have been reduced to
seizing whole compositions, and adapting them as best they could to their saint, often by
merely exchanging one name for another. Thus, for example, the passion of St. Martina is
literally identical with that of St. Tatiana; St. Castissima owns the same acts as St.
Euphrosyne, while those of St. Caprasius are the same as those of St. Symphorian; the
group of Florentius and Julianus possesses an identical history to that of Secundianus,
Marcellianus and Veranus, and so on, for the list of these strange duplications is far
longer than one would be tempted to suppose. We hope some day to draw up a complete
catalogue of them.[]
 It must suffice for the moment to refer the reader to some
provisional lists: Histoire Iittéraire de la France, Vol. vii., p. 193; Analecta
Bollandiana, Vol. xvi., p. 496.
 Another variety of the species of composition we have been characterising is that
of the narratives in which the author has contented himself with introducing a new
personage while still retaining the original hero and all the story belonging to him. I
might recall the example of St. Florian, honoured at Bologna, who, in order that he might
be provided with a history, has been introduced into the Passion of the sixty martyrs of
Eleutheropolis,[] and also that of St. Florentius of Mont Glonne, whom one is surprised
to meet in the company of St. Florian of Lorsch .[]
 Analecta Bollandiana, Vol. xxiii., pp. 292-95.
 Acta SS., Sept., Vol. vi., pp. 428-30. See also Krusch, in M. G., Script.
rer. merov., Vol. iii., p. 67.
If Latin hagiographers have had frequent recourse to the convenient process of
adaptation, the Greeks have not deprived themselves of the same resource, as may be proved
by comparing the history of St. Barbara with that of Irene and Cyriaena,[] and the life
of St. Onesimus with that of St. Alexis.[] Not long ago further parallel cases were
unearthed in Syrian hagiography: the life of Mar Mikha scarcely differs from that of Mar
Benjamin,[] while the history of St Azazayl is a mere adaptation of that of St
Pancratius of Rome.[]
 Acta SS., Nov., Vol. i., p. 210.
 Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, p. 820.
 The life of Mar Mikha was published by Bedjan, Acta martyrum et sanctorum, Vol.
iii., pp. 513-32; that of Mar Benjamin by V. Scheil, La vie de Mar Benjamin in the Zeitschrift
für Assyriologie, Vol. xii., 1897, pp. 62-96. It was M. C. Brockelmann, Zum Leben
des Mar Benjamin, ibid., pp. 270-71, who pointed out this interesting example of a
monk who appropriates the legend of a neighbouring monastery and does not hesitate to
dedicate his plagiarism to the Patriarch Symeon.
 F. Macler, Histoire de Saint Azazaïl in the Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des
Hautes Études, fasc. 141. See also Analecta Bollandiana, Vol. xxiii., pp.
 The process appears so puerile and summary that one is tempted to assume that it
can only have been carried out in the darkest epochs of the Middle Ages, and one can
scarcely resist the temptation to locate this wretched plagiarism among barbarous
surroundings in which literary culture was practically unknown. Unhappily we must remember
that as early as the fourth century in Italy, and indeed in Rome, we come across
deliberate adaptations of foreign legends to fit national saints. The passion of St.
Lawrence, even in its minor details, is borrowed from that of the martyrs of Phrygia as
related by Socrates and Sozomen, while the martyrdom. of St. Cassian scarcely differs from
that of St. Mark of Arethusa.[] The martyrdom of St. Eutychius as related by Pope
Damasus[] is simply a reproduction of that of St. Lucian,[] and the Damasian version
of the death of St. Agnes possesses undeniable resemblances to that of St. Eulalia.[]
It is not as yet plagiarism in its crudest form, not the almost word for word
transcription of the original. But already legend has come to be regarded as no-man's
land. It belongs, in a quite unexpected sense, to the "common of saints," and
transfers are effected on a somewhat liberal scale.
 See Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xix., pp. 452-53. The torture
of St. Mark of Arethusa is testified to by St. Gregory Nazianzen, In Julian, i., as
M. Pio Franchi has pointed out, Nuove Note agiografiche in Studi e Testi, voi.
ix., p. 68. We may observe by the way that after St. Cassian, St. Artemas of Pozzuoli
inherited the Passion of St. Mark of Arethusa, Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., p. 617.
[This sentence is modified in the 3d ed., and that revision is included as a special note
at the end of this chapter, on. p. 106.]
 Ihm, Damasi epigrammara, n. 27.
 P. Franchi, as above, p. 58, n. 2.
 Id., Santa Agnese nella tradizione e nella leggenda, Rome, 1899, p. 20.
It is not solely in hagiographic literature that editors of saints' lives have sought
the material for their compilations. Thus the legend of St Vidian, a local martyr 
honoured at Martres-Tolosanes might easily be confounded with the epic legend of Vivian,
nephew to William of Orange, which is related in two metrical romances, the Enfances
Vivien and Aliscans; [] the legend of St. Dymphna is an adaptation of a
popular tale[] as is that of St. Olive which has been popularised in Italy, not by the
Church, but by the stage.[]
 A. Thomas, Viviens d'Aliscans et la éigende de saint Vidian in
the Études romanes dédiées a Gaston Paris, Paris, 1891, pp. 121-35; L. Saltet, Saint
Vidian de Martres-Tolosanes et la légende de Vivien des chansons de geste in the Bulletin
de litt.Frature ecclésiastique, Feb. 1902, pp. 44-56. Dom Lobineau, Les vies des
saints de Bretagne, Rennes, 1725, p. 25, is of opinion that the author of the life of
St. Colledoc had no "other materials to work with than the romance of Lancelot du Lac
and a bold and fertile imagination".
 See above, p. 9.
 Al. d'Ancona, Origini del teatro italiano, 2nd edition, Turin, 1891, vol.
i., pp. 436-37.
The writings we have been describing undoubtedly constitute literary frauds which one
feels inclined to condemn with great severity. I should not, however, venture, at least as
a general rule, to class them as forgeries, or to regard the authors of these
substitutions as more guilty than those who naively believed themselves entitled to
supplement the silence of tradition by narratives mainly supplied by their own
imaginations. They were reduced to the extremity of imitating the sculptors who changed
the statue of a consul into that of a saint by supplying a new head, or by placing in his
hand a cross, a key, a lily or some other symbolical object.
We must freely confess, however, that hagiographic literature has been disgraced by a
certain number of forgers whose naTvet6 can scarce avail as their excuse. There have been
audacious fabrications, the product of falsehood and ambition which for long misled
credulous minds and unsuspecting critics; among these we  may quote the Cypriot
legend concerning St. Barnabas,[] the notorious translation of St. Denis to
Ratisbonne[] the life of St. Maurus by the so-called Faustus, who was no other than Odo
of Glanfeuil,[] and the Passion of St. Placidus by Peter the Deacon, under the name of
Gordian .[] The monk of Glastonbury, who recast the legend of St. Joseph of
Arimathea,[] and the first authors of the apostolic legends of France can scarcely
plead their good faith before the tribunal of history. One can only turn contemptuously
away, even while marvelling at the simplicity of their dupes.
 Acta SS., June, vol. ii., pp. 431-52. See also Duchesne, St.
Barnabé in Wanges G. B. de Rossi, pp. 45-49.
 Neues Archiv für aeltere Deutsche Geschichtskunde, vol. xv., pp. 340-58.
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. i., pp. 1039-50, 1051-52.
 Ibid., Oct., vol. iii., pp. 114-38.
 P. Paris, De l'origine et du développement des romans de la Table ronde in Romania, vol. i., 1872, pp. 457-82.
[The following appears in the 3d edition on page 104, at the place noted]
The Passion of St. Lawrence in that which concerns the torture of the gril, which
it does not seem possible to bring into accord with the second edict of Valerian,
allows a strange inspiration to be seen. In the Orient another legend on other martyrs
occurs which is too similar to allow for simple coincidence. In the curious history of
St. Cassian of Imola one recognizes more than one reminiscence: that of the
schoolmaster punished by Furius Camillus and the feature (that of the stilettos) of the
passion of St. Mark of Arethusa.]
THE CLASSIFICATION OF HAGIOGRAPHIC TEXTS.
Defective System - Classification according to Subjects
-According to Categories of Saints -System Adopted.
Historical Point of View - Division into six classes - Application of System to Ruinart's
Acta sincera - The "Supplements " of Le Blant.
It may be useful at this stage to summarise the preceding pages while attempting to
draw up a system of classification by means of which it will be possible to arrange in
groups the majority of what may be called hagiographic documents.
We may leave out of account purely external divisions founded on the subject of the
narrative such as Passions, Biographies, Translations, Miracles, or even on the literary
form, as Metrical, or Rhymed Lives and so on. This mechanical kind of classification
scarcely affords any indication of the historical value of the documents. Thus it would be
a mistake to conclude from the circumstance of a hagiographer writing in verse, that he
has necessarily profited by the licence that we are agreed in according to poets.
Mediaeval poets are often as ingenious in turning their original text into hexameters as
they are lacking in inspiration and poetic invention. []
 A curious example of this may be seen in the Versus
domni Bertharii abbatis de miraculis almi Patris Benedicti (M.G., Poet. Lat. aevi
carol., vol. iii., pp. 394-98), in which book ii. of the Dialogues of St. Gregory is
turned into verse, chapter by chapter.
 Another system of classification, and at first sight more logical, would consist
in grouping the documents under the various categories of saints. In point of fact,
hagiographic literature treats of a large and varied assortment of personages who do not
all possess equally valid claims on public veneration. There are, in the first place,
those whose cultus has been canonically established by the Church and has received the
sanction of centuries. St. Lawrence in the Church of Rome, St. Cyprian in that of Africa,
and St. Martin in that of Gaul, belong incontestably to this class, and we possess the
Acts of each one of them.
Next to them come those real personages devotion to whom was in the first instance
irregularly established, whatever consecration it may have acquired through length of
usage. We have already pointed out that the word "sanctus " did not always
possess the very precise significance that it bears to-day, and that it has been the means
of conferring the honours of a tardy canonisation on more than one bishop, known only for
his orthodoxy.[] It may be remembered that all the pious personages of whom St. Gregory
the Great recalled the virtues in his Dialogues ultimately took their places among the
saints of the Latin Church,[] just as the hermits of whom Theodoret wrote the biography
suddenly found themselves during their very life-time incorporated in the annals of the
Greek Church through some caprice of the hagiographers.' It has even happened that worthy
individuals on whom their contemporaries had never conferred the aureole of sanctity, have
been raised to the ranks of the martyrs or the  Blessed as the result of some special
circumstances. Such a one is Cassiodorus, who became, no one quite knows how, a martyr of
the early centuries.[] And how frequently has not the discovery of a tomb or of a group
of bodies whose identity could not be definitely established given rise to some local
devotion which has often enjoyed a lengthy popularity? The greater number of these saints,
unauthentic in varying degrees, have none the less found hagiographers ready to do honour
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xviii., pp. 406-11. [The subject
has been taken up with great development in our work Sanctus, Brussels, 1927.]
 Civiltà Cattolica, series xv., vol. vi., 1894, pp. 292-305, 653-69.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xiv., pp. 420-21.
 See above, pp. 21 and 71.
The long lists of the saints furnish us with yet a third category, relatively few in
number, but not on that account to be neglected : the imaginary personages to whom a real
existence has Ultimately been attributed. Some of them have a purely literary origin. We
have already referred to various heroes of romance and of hagiographic tales transformed
into historical personages and gradually becoming a nucleus of devotionThe reader will
remember the chanson de geste of Amis and Amile who were killed by Ogier the Dane
near Mortara in the Montferrat district. Their history was transformed into a saint!s life
and they were honoured with a chapel at Novara, Milan, and possibly other places.[] The
Poem of Flores and Blanchefleur would have given birth to a St. Rosana-whose life was even
printed-had not the Roman authorities intervened [] other fictitious saints owed their
origin to some iconographic accident, as, for example, the celebrated St. Liberata or
Wilgefortis (called in English St. Uncumber) who was represented as a bearded  woman
nailed to a cross, and whose legend was inspired by one of those draped crucifixes of
which the Volto Santo of Lucca offers the best-known example.[]
 Acta SS., Oct, vol. vi., pp. 124-26.
 Al. d'Ancona I Origini del teatro italiano, 2nd edition, vol. i., p. 437; vol. ii., p. 60. See also H. Reusch, Der Index der verbotenen Bücher, vol. ii., 1,
1885, p. 227.
 I Acta SS., July, vol. v., pp. 50-70; A. Lutolf, Sanct Kümmerniss und
die Kümmernisse der Schweizer in Geschichtsfreund, vol. xix., 1863, pp.
183-205; G. Schnürer, Die Kümmmernisbilder als Kopien des Volto Santo von Lucca in
the Jahresbericht der Görres-Gesellschaft, 1901, pp. 43-50; Id., Der Kultus des
Volto Santo und der hl. Wilgefortis in Freiburg in the Freiburger
Geschichtsb1aetter, vol. ix, 1902, pp. 74-105; Id., Ueber Alter und Herkunft des
Volto Santo von Lucca, in Römische Quartalschrift, vol. xxxiv, 1926, p.
271-306. Cf. Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii, p. 482; vol. xxiii, p. 128.
We need not insist very strongly on the inconveniences of a classification of
hagiographic documents in strict accordance with these various categories of saints. It is
obvious that there need be no intimate relation between the subject of a narrative and its
historical value. Thus it happens that saints as celebrated and as well authenticated as
St. Lawrence and St. Agnes are chiefly known to us by legendary Acts, while, on the other
hand, various saints of the second category are provided with quite fairly authenic
title-deeds. This common and most regrettable anomaly suggests a number of embarrassing
problems that cannot always be solved. When historical records are lacking it is often
possible to supplement their silence by the help of other documents, and to establish the
fact of a traditional veneration by martyrologies, itineraries, monuments, etc.[] When
this means of identification fails it becomes impossible to decide in which of the three
categories we should place a saint whose name legend has handed down to us. Thus if, in
the case of St. Sebastian, we had nothing but his Acts on which to base our judgment, we
might feel concerning him the same hesitation as about St. Martina, who appears to have
been unknown to  antiquit. [], Nor is it likely that we shall ever obtain decisive
evidence for placing St. Catherine or St. Barbara in either the first or the second
category of the saints.
 Midway on this page, Delehaye "opened up" this paragraph to discuss the
documentation of the lives of St. George and St. Theodore; much of this material is drawn
from his own work, Les 1égendes grecques des saints militaires. Ed.]
 Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, S. Martina in the Römische Quartalschrilt, vol.
xvii., 1903, pp. 222-36.
Under these circumstances we must have recourse to the one and only principle which
allows of a strict classification of the Acts of the martyrs and of hagiographic documents
in general; they must be classed by the degree of truth and historic value they possess.
The following results have been arrived at by the application of this principle as far as
the main divisions are concerned.
I The official reports of the interrogatories of martyrs are entitled in theory
to the first place in importance. The existence of records of this nature deposited in the
archives of the proconsul has been attested by more than one witness. The question is
whether any of these procès-verbaux have been preserved.
It might be objected that such official records do not come within the scope of any
category of hagiographic documents, and that, strictly speaking, we ought not to take them
into consideration. Such a protest would, however, be quite superfluous, for it does not
require prolonged investigation to ascertain that no procès-verbal of the times of
persecution has come down to us in a separate and unadulterated form; the documents which
are honoured with the title of Proconsular Acts are, at best, compositions intended for
the edification of the faithful, in which the official text of the interrogatory,
scrupulously respected, forms the main portion of the narrative. Thus it happens that the
most celebrated of all these documents, which has  been held up to us as the most
perfect model of Proconsular Acts, the Passio Cypriani, is, in reality, a composite
record in which one must distinguish three separate documents strung together by a few
phrases of their latest editor: first, the official text of an early interrogatory in 257,
as the result of which Cyprian was sent into exile; then the official report of the arrest
and the second interrogatory in 258; finally the account of the martyrdom. In the Passion
of the Scillitan martyrs the hand of the hagiographer is less visible. One hears only the
words of the martyrs and their persecutor, and one is present at the carrying out of the
sentence. Was the interrogatory copied in the proconsular office, or did some Christian in
the audience take it down in shorthand? It would be difficult to decide this point, but it
is safe to affirm that the editor has introduced nothing of his own into the phrases he
places on the lips of the martyrs.
These authentic interrogatories are always quite admirable, and even after so many
centuries the emotions they excite have lost nothing of their intensity. If anything could
spoil the impression they produce it would be the clumsy imitations which are to be found
far too frequently in the passionaries. In the dramatic scenes devised by hagiographers to
emphasise the heroism of his sacrifice, the martyr poses as though he were on the stage,
and gives utterance to academic orations. In point of fact nothing is easier than to
recognise authentic "consular acts". But we have reluctantly to admit that very
few are in existence.
2. A second category of authentic Acts comprises the accounts of
eye-witnesses, and others worthy of confidence, or of well-informed contemporaries
recording the testimonies of other eye-witnesses. In these  narratives, which are of
a literary character, considerable space is accorded to the subjective element, an element
which is entirely absent from the purely official Acts. It follows that we may carry the
analysis farther and subdivide this category under three headings :-
(a) Documents in which the witness alone speaks in his own name.
(b) Those in which a contemporary author restricts himself to chronicling the testimony
(c) Those in which personal observation is added to the testimony, as in several
chapters of Eusebius's Martyrs of Palestine, and in the life of Cyprian by the
Deacon Pontius. But all these varieties have this in common, that they express directly,
without the intervention of any written source, an oral and contemporary testimony.
3. The third category is composed of Acts of which the principal source is a written
document belonging to one or other of the preceding categories. It includes every
degree of remodelling from simple editorial corrections as regards the arrangement of the
composition and details of development, up to the free recasting of the original which a
fresh editor quarries from, amplifies, turns inside out, or even on occasion interpolates.
In this way we possess seven different versions of the Passion of the Scillitan martyrs,
and the historical records that have come down to us only in an amended form are extremely
numerous. A certain number of the lives which compose the menology of Metaphrastes belong
to the category of adaptations which have for their sole source an historic document that
the editor has abridged or paraphrased, according to his own sweet will. We may naturally
include in this class redactions at second or third hand, in other words,  those
produced by authors at work not On an original document but on a composition which has
already been recast.
4.. The fourth category consists of Acts of which the source is not a written document,
but the fantastic combination of a few real events in a framework of pure imagination, in
other words, historical romances. This class is very numerous, and in particular we
must include in it the whole series of cycles of the Roman Legendarium. In these
compositions which consist frequently of a tissue of literary reminiscences, popular
traditions and fictitious situations, the historic element is almost always reduced to an
infinitesimal quantity. The name of the saint, the existence of his shrine, and the date
of his feast are in many cases all that can be safely inferred from a species of
composition in which fantasy has a free field.
Although their authors do not as a rule sin from excess of imagination, I would add to
the above class those Acts which are simple adaptations. As a general rule the historic
residue in these plagiarised compositions is of about the same value as that of the
laboriously compiled romances of which mention has just been made; for the minimum of
adaptation demanded to transform the history of one saint into that of another is
necessarily concerned with his name, his feast and his shrine.
5. After the historical romances dealing with real personages, come the imaginative
romances, in which the hero himself is the creation of the poet. The Passion of St.
Nicephorus and the history of Barlaam and Joasaph are types of this class.
6. It is only proper to place in a separate category all forgeries properly so
called, that is to say, all  hagiographic legends composed with the object of
deceiving the reader. It is not always easy to ascertain the real author of the fraud, and
it must frequently happen that the editor has merely registered a version which circulated
before his day; in that case the work must be classified under one of the previous
 M. A. Harnack, Die Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur bis
Eusebius, vol. ii., Leipzig, 1904, pp. 464-65, quotes our classification with
approval. He proposes to add a seventh category, that of a class of dummy Acts drawn up
solely upon the model of celebrated Passions. From the historic standpoint which we have
adopted this group would be included in our fourth category.
We might refrain here from entering into fuller explanations, and might leave to the
reader the task of applying the principles enunciated to the numerous examples before him.
It would indeed require endless investigations, and the combined efforts of many workers
to arrive at a strict classification, under the various headings enumerated, of all the
hagiographic legends that have come down to us. We can, however, scarcely dispense
ourselves from passing in rapid review, a justly celebrated collection which for a long
period, in the eyes of most scholars, expressed the latest word in hagiographic criticism,
and thanks to which the line of demarcation between fable and history had been drawn once
and for all: we refer to Dom Ruinart's Acta sincera.
This fine work well-conceived, if somewhat summarily carried out, has rendered the
greatest service, and it would be a grave injustice on our part to attempt to depreciate
it. It is, however, only right to say that it fails to come up to modern requirements.
Every one is to-day agreed in demanding better authenticated texts according to strict
philological methods. The necessity for a process of weeding out, or to speak  more
precisely, for a re-classification of the documents selected by Ruinart seems not to be so
Let us admit also that, from our modern standpoint, the title of Acta sincera lends
itself easily to misconceptions. I feel no difficulty in allowing that all the Acts
collected by the learned Benedictine are "sincere" in the sense that he set
himself to exclude from his collection all the fabrications of forgers. But his selections
are not all sincere in the sense that we can accept them as pure historic sources without
any alloy of fiction or fantasy. Prudentius, like many other poets, is sincere, but who
would ever dream of accepting his poems as though they were an historic text? The candid
and loyal soul of St. John Chrysostom is reflected in his panegyrics no less than in his
homilies, but ought we therefore to neglect to take into account the oratorical
temperament and must we give to his sermons the same value as to a legal report? Clearly
not. But what every one would freely admit in regard to a poem or an oratorical passage is
too often forgotten when we are dealing with narratives by unknown authors, of which the
historic: value can only be determined by internal criteria.
It has been customary to place all Ruinart's texts on the same level, and, taking them
in the mass, to attribute to them an absolute authority. It would be easy to quote a whole
series of writings on the history of the primitive Church, or on various points of
discipline in which the Acta sincera are cited promiscuously without any one having
realised the necessity of some sifting process with a view to the special use that was to
be made of them. Save for the recent revision by Harnack,[] it may be said that the
lists of authentic records  drawn up of late years give evidence of very little
serious labour. Except for a few insignificant corrections they are simply the
reproduction of Ruinart's tables.[] It has not been sufficiently noted that the learned
Benedictine had somewhat vague ideas concerning the classification of hagiographic texts.
Nowhere does he lay down any criteria for distinguishing between them, and his solitary
rule appears to have been to give concerning every martyr the most ancient and most
respectable record he could find.
 Die Chronologie, vol. ii., pp. 463-82. See also Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxiii., pp. 476-80. [We-may also refer to the chapter 'Les Passion
historiques,' in Les Passion des martyrs et les genres littéraires, p. 11-182.]
 Preuschen in Harnack, Geschichte der aitchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebius,
vol. i., pp. 807-34; G. Kriiger, Geschichte der altchristlichen Litteratur in den
ersten drei Jahrhunderten, pp. 237-45; Dictionnaire de theólogie Catholique,
vol. i., pp. 320-34; Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, vol.
i., pp. 409-10.
The Acta sincera are composed of one hundred and seventeen documents[] of a
very unequal value which it is manifestly impossible to subject to a uniform critical
examination, and which, therefore, must be considered in groups.
 The Acta Firmi et Rustici were added by the Verona editor.
Concerning a small number of saints (Irenaeus, Alexander Bishop of Jerusalem, Priscus,
Malchus and Alexander, Mamas, Soteris) Ruinart has been compelled to restrict himself to
putting together a few scattered fragments with which to make compilations of the kind
entitled by the Bollandists Sylloge.
In the case of others he has availed himself of authors, whether historians, orators or
poets, whosr, writings are sufficiently well known and whose credibility is recognised.
Thus he quotes Eusebius for Jacob, Bishop of Jerusalem, Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem,
Ptolemaeus and Lucius, Apollonius, Leonides and companions, Dionysius, Alexandrinus,
Maximus, the martyrs under Diocletian, the Palestinian martyrs and Romanus. He 
quotes Prudentius for Hippolytus, Laurentius, Romanus, Vincentius, Eulalia, Agnes, the
martyrs of Saragossa, Quirinus and Cassianus; St. John Chrysostom for Domnina and
companions, Lucianus, Pelagia, Drosis and Julianus; St. Gregory of Nyssa for Theodorus,
martyr; St. Basil for Barlaam,[] Gordius, Julitta and the Forty Martyrs; St. Astedus of
Amasea for Euphemia and Phocas; St. Ambrose for Laurentius, Vitalis and Agricola, Agnes,
Theodora and Didymus; Rufinus for Apollonius and Theodorus, confessor; Paulinus of Nola
for Felix; Socrates for Macedonius and companions; Sozomen for Eusebius and companions and
Basil of Ancyra; Theodoret for Cyrillus and companions, Juventinus and Maximinus ;
Palladius for Potamimna; St. Augustine for the twenty African martyrs; and finally St.
Vigilius for Sisinnius and companions.
 The attribution to St. Basil is erroneous. See Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxii., p. 132.
There remain the separate Passions to the number of seventy-four, upon which the future
efforts of criticism will have to be directed. Already a certain number of these have been
definitely classed. Others have received provisional recognition, while it is to be feared
that not a few will have to remain in the limbo to which critics have been forced to
relegate them from lack of information by which to judge of their merits or demerits.
Scholars are genemlly agreed in giving the place of honour--corresponding to the two
first categories in our classification-to certain celebrated documents of which unhappily
the list is far from long: Polycarp, Justinus, the Martyrs of Lyons, the Scillitan
Martyrs,[] Perpetua [],  Cyprianus, Fructuosus, Jacob and Marianus,
Maximilianus, Marcellus and Cassianus Tingitanus.[[*]] If one puts the setting out of the
question, and simply retains the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans which belongs to them
it is evident that the Acts of St Ignatius of Antioch should be classed among the pearls
of the collection.[[1']]Nor must we forget the Passion of St. Procopius of which the great
importance was not at first discerned, as it was not recognised as being a fragment of the
book of the martyrs of Palestine, an authentic work by Eusebius.
 The recension given by Ruinart, Bibl. hag. lat., n. 7531,
ought to be replaced by Bibl. hag. lat., n. 7527.
See p. 24 above.]
[*] This l9st name is omitted in 3d ed. and the following reference added for
Marcellus: Analecta Bollandiana, vol. x1i, p. 251-87. Then the following sentence
is inserted: It is necessary to add Felix, relieved of the serious interpolations which
have made him suspect - ibid., vol. xxxix, p. 241-76 - Pionius, Montanus and
Lucius, Sabas Gothus - See our Saints de Thrace et de Mésie, p. 288-91 -Phileas
and Philoromus - see our Martyrs d'Egypte, p. 161-68.]
 Vain efforts have been made to rehabilitate the Ignatian Acts in their entirety.
See Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvii., p. 362; vol. xix., p. 38.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., p. 115.
Let us pass at once to the other extreme. The Passio Nicephori and the Passio
Bonifatii belong to the category of imaginative romance. We may add to them the Acts
of Didymus and Theodora ] of Genesius the Comedian, as well as the Acts of Theodotus of
Ancyra of which the kernel is a tale related by Herodotus. [] while the existence of
the hero of the narrative is not vouched for by any historical document.[]
 To be compared with the Acts of Alexander and Antonina, Acta SS., May, vol. i., pp. 744-46.
 Concerning this tale see A. Schiefner, De quelques versions orientales du conte
du trésor de Rhampsinite in the Bulletin de I'Académie de Saint-Pétersbourg, vol.
xiv., 1869, pp. 299-316.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii., pp. 320-28; vol. xxiii., p. 478.
The historical romance category, that is to say the fourth variety of hagiographic
texts, is by no means slenderly represented in Ruinart. No one will resent our placing on
the list Symphorosa, Felicitas and her seven sons, Afra, Cyricus and Julitta, Petrus 
Balsamus, Vincentius, Firmus and Rusticus, Lucianus and Marianus. I can see no sufficient
reason for according a higher place to the Martyrs of Agaunum, to Donatianus and
Rogatianus, Victor, Tarachus and Probus, Ferreolus, Arcadius or to Leo and
[*] To this list the 3d ed. adds Trypho and Respicius. In the preceding
sentence the name of Afra was deleted in the 3d ed.]
The remaining documents of the collection must remain for the time being in the third
category, i.e., among the Passions which have as their principal source an historic
document of the first or the second rank. Is it necessary to add that this class
subdivides itself into numerous varieties determined both by the quality of the primitive
document and the capacity of the editor? Nor must it be forgotten that in the case of the
majority of these documents critics have not yet been able to arrive at a unanimous
conclusion, owing to their not having been submitted to any searching study; let us add
that some of them, by reason of their mixed character, lend themselves with difficulty to
a strict classification.
The most important of the contents of the third class are undoubtedly the Passions of
Pionius, Montanus and Lucius, Maximus and Crispina [[+]] Possibly it may be thought that
they have not been placed in sufficiently good company. I do not think it would be
justifiable to show them greater honour. It is scarcely possible to hesitate as to adding
to them the following Passions: Achatius, Petrus, Andreas and his companions, Felix,[]
Saturninus, Dativus and his companions, Agape and Chionia,[] IrenEeus, Pollio, Euplus,
 Philippus,[] Phileas and Philoromus,[] Quirinus, Julius, Marcianus and
Nicander[] and Sabas Gothus.[]
[+] The first three names deleted in 3d ed.
 The Acts of St. Felix no longer exist in their primitive form. The portion
concerning the journey to Italy is an interpolation. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
xvi., pp. 27-28; vol. xxii., p. 460.
 P. Franchi, Nuove note agiografiche in Studi e Testi, vol.
ix., pp. 3-19. [The list is considerably changed in the 3d ed.]
 J. Fuehrer in the Mittheilungen des k. deutschen archaeologischen Instituts, Roman
section, vol. vii., 1892, pp. 158-65; Harnack, Die Chronologie, p. 478.
 C. Schmidt in Fragmente einer Schrift des Martyrerbischofs Petrus von
Alexandrien in Texte und Untersuchungen, N.F., vol. v., p. 22, rejects these
Acts. The judgment of Harnack in Die Chronologie is far more favourable.
 P. Franchi in Nuovo bullettino di archeologia cristiana, vol. x., 1904, pp.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxiii., pp. 96-98. [This is one of the names not
included in the 3d ed. list, which concludes with this statement: The Acta
disputationis of Achatius remain an enigma --Les Passions des martyrs, p. 344-364.]
To these may be added the following Acts which have been much less studied: Epipodius
and Alexander, Trypho and Respicius, Cyrillus, Claudius, Astorius and his companions,
Serenus, Faustus and Januarius, Genesius Arelatensis, Patricius Bishop of Prusa, and the
Egyptian martyrs. It is not impossible that a thorough study of their origin and
composition might result in the deposition of some of them from the rank that has so far
been assigned to them.[]
 P. Franchi in Nuovo bullettino, vol. x., p. 17. [From this
list of names the 3d ed. deletes those of Trypho and Respicius.]
 J. Labourt, Le Christianisme dans 1'empire perse sous la dynastie sassanide, 224-632,
Paris, 1904, pp. 63-82; H. Delehaye, Les versions grecques des actes des martyrs
persans sous Sapor II1., Paris, 1905, pp. 5-19.
The Acts concerning the Persian martyrs (Symeon, Pherbute, Sadoth and Bademus)
constitute a separate group which might be included in the class under discussion.[]
Previous to the publication of their various recensions (so far unprinted) both in
Armenian and Syriac it would be premature to pronounce on the original form and
consequently also on the documentary value of these narratives.
One can scarcely discuss Dom Ruinart's collection without mentioning the enterprise of
Le Blant, to whom  we owe a I Supplement to the Acta Sincera ".[] This
learned scholar did not propose in any sense to enlarge Ruinart's volume by introducing
into it historical texts that the erudite Benedictine had overlooked, or that had been
brought to light by recent discoveries. He tried to show that various narratives not
included in the Acta sincera "have retained-although re-cast and added to in
varying degrees-certain genuine portions derived from original documents."[] He
calls these "interpolated Acts," possessing a certain value as containing
fragments of the truth,[] and the following is the method by which he proposes to
identify them: "A systematic collating of these pieces with the information furnished
by civil and criminal law, with the text of the most authentic Acts and with the data
solidly established by witnesses from the past, such is, in my opinion, a clear means of
establishing the degree of credibility to which hagiographic narratives may be entitled;
such is the method I propose to follow in seeking out those grains of truth scattered
through certain documents which, in accordance with the opinion of Tillemont cannot be
wholly rejected even though they may offer some disquieting features ".[]
 Les Actes des martyrs. Supplément aux Acta sincera de Dom
Ruinart. Extrait des Mémoires de I'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles lettres, vol.
xxx., 2nd part, Paris, 1882.
 Les perércuteurs et les martyrs aux premiers siècles de notre ère, Paris,
1893, p. 1.
 Les Acres des martyrs, p. 5.
 Ibid., p. 4.
I admire as highly as any one the vast erudition of Le Blant and the exemplary patience
with which he has pursued the vestiges of antiquity, often so hard to recognise, through a
mass of insipid literature. Yet it must needs be said that the very conception underlying
his work has been a false one, and likely to  mislead investigators. For, in point of
fact, in order that an interpolated or paraphrased narrative should possess any value it
must be derived from some historical source the pedigree of which can be clearly
ascertained. Purely literary accretions may go back very far without imparting the least
credit to the stock on which they are grafted. In all ages centos from Virgil have been
composed. Observe to what conclusions one might be drawn if one wished to make capital out
of the antiquity of their various parts. From the correct legal phraseology to be met with
in certain Passions we may sometimes, no doubt, conclude that the author lived at a time
when the ancient formulae had not yet fallen into disuse, but more often it would be truer
to infer that he had studied a classical model which had supplied him with felicitious
expressions and technical phrases. It would be entirely a mistake to deduce from this
solitary fact that he had worked on a historic record, and that his narrative was derived
from a contemporary chronicle of events.
In point of fact Le Blant has frequently succeeded in discovering in documents of a
debased period or devoid of historic value details which reveal a condition of things
going back to classical antiquity; but he has been mistaken in concluding that "these
writings have preserved, in more points than one, features of the lost
originals".[] If we followed him on these lines, we ought to infer from certain
superficial indications that the Acts of St. Agnes, St. Agatha, St. Urban, SS. Cosmas and
Damian, St Cecilia, etc., as we possess them to-day, are all versions of earlier Acts
which have undergone, as he expresses it, "des retouches évidentes."[] 
I might quote more than one contemporary of our own, who in his novels has affected the
knowledge of a specialist in certain technical details. Will posterity be forced to
conclude that his stories possess a foundation of truth and that he has merely made a free
use of original documents?
 Les Actes des martyrs, p. 127.
 Les persecuteurs et les martyrs, p. 1.
No doubt Le Blant has done good service by showing that frequently the information
furnished by secondary texts is in agreement with that supplied by classic
documents,"[] but he was mistaken in supposing that "if these latter
had not come into our hands we should have obtained much useful information from the rest
concerning the principal features in the history of the persecutions ". On the
contrary, it must be obvious to all that if we had not the check provided by the classic
texts, we should have no means of discerning the really primitive elements in documents
without intrinsic value, and that we should be building up the history of the persecutions
upon a foundation of sand.
[I] Les Actes des martyrs. p. 279.
This, however, is no reason for giving up the idea of supplementing Ruinart, after
having taken much away from him. But, as we have seen, the first thing to be done is to
realise clearly the place to be given to every document in the hierarchy of hagiographic
records. The new Ruinart which we should like to compile would only contain the historical
records belonging to the first three categories set out at the beginning of this chapter.
THE "DOSSIER" OF A SAINT.
Documents concerning St. Procopius of Caesarea -- Account given
by Eusebius - Monuments
testifying to the cultus - The three legends of St. Procopius - Analysis of the three
The Synaxaries - Latin Acts of St. Procopius -Adaptations to St. Ephysius and to St. John
Alexandria - Conclusions.
It is often an arduous task to establish the claims of a saint of the first
centuries to the honours of public worship. Where historical documents are not entirely
lacking they have sometimes undergone such marked modifications under the combined efforts
of legend and legend writers that one can only make use of them with extreme caution. Nor
is it all plain sailing when, by rare good fortune, the cause of a saint is founded on a
comparatively well-furnished record. One must know how to classify the documents, to
interpret them at their proper value, to weigh evidence, and to establish the degree of
credibility to which each witness is entitled. It is a long and infinitely delicate task
in which the inexperienced critic, unfamiliar with hagiography, meets with many a
A providential accident has preserved for us an exceptionally complete series of
documents concerning a saint of the persecution under Diocletian. Contemporary records,
narratives derived from them and revised more than once, entries in the martyrologies,
historical  proofs of the existence of a local cultus, the distant echoes of legend,
everything that tradition is in the habit of distributing with niggardly hand between
several saints is here united round a single name. The saint in question is St. Procopius,
the "great martyr," honoured by the Greek Church on 8th July, and inscribed on
the same date in the Roman Martyrology. In following step by step the traces of his cultus
in literary monuments we shall arrive at an exact appreciation of the value of the
documents concerning him. It will then be easy to extend to analogous cases the
conclusions to which this examination will have led us.[]
 Concerning all this see Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp.
St. Procopius is the first of those martyrs of Palestine, of whom Eusebius, at once
historian and eye-witness of the great persecution, has related the valiant resistance and
the intrepid calmness in the face of death. Two versions have come down to us of
Eusebius's tractate. The shortest and best known is usually read between the eighth and
ninth book of the Ecclesiastical History. The other, more developed, has only come
down to us in its entirety in a Syriac translation. Of the Greek text there only remain
fragments and abstracts. The chapter concerning Procopius in the longer recension has not
been found, like other chapters of the same work, in the Greek menologies. But the Latin
Passionaries have preserved this fragment of Eusebius's book, the only fragment, so far as
is known, to penetrate to the West. The following are the words in which the Bishop of
Caesarea relates the history of Procopius and his martyrdom. []
 Bibl. hag. lat., n. 6949.
The first of the martyrs of Palestine was Procoplus,  a man filled with Divine
grace, who, before his martyrdom, had ordered his life so well that from childhood he had
been vowed to chastity and to the practice of all the virtues. He had reduced his body
until he had given it so to speak the appearance of a corpse, by his soul drew from the
Word of God so great a vigour that the body itself was refreshed by it. He lived on bread
and water, and only ate food every two or three days; sometimes he prolonged his fast
during a whole week. Meditation on the Divine Word so filled his being that he
remained absorbed in it day and nig4 without any sense of fatigue. Filled with goodness
and gentleness, regarding himself as the least of men he edified every one by his
discourses.[] The word of God was his sole study, and of profane sciences he had but a
mediocre knowledge. Born at Elia, he had taken up his residence at Scythopolis where he
filled three ecclesiastical functions. He was reader and interpreter in the Syriac
language, and cast out evil spirits by the imposition of hands.
 The condition of the text renders the sentence very difficult to
translate. We can only give the general sense of the passage.
"Sent with companions from Scythopolis to Caesarea he had scarcely passed the city
gates when he was conducted into the presence of the governor, and even before he had had
a taste of chains or prison walls It. was at once urged by the judge Flavian to sacrifice
to the gods. But he, in a strong voice, proclaimed that there are not several gods, but
one alone, the creator and author of all things. This answer made a vivid impression on
the judge. Finding nothing to say in reply, he tried to persuade Procopius at least to
sacrifice to the Emperors. But the martyr of God despised his entreaties. 'Listen,' he
said,' to this verse of Homer.  It is not good to have several masters ; let there be
one single chief, one single king.'
Ouk agathon polukirane -- eis koiranos esto
Eis basileus [Iliad ii.204]
At these words, as though he had uttered imprecations against the emperors, the judge
ordered him to be led to the place of execution. They cut off his head, and he passed
happily to eternal life by the shortest road, on the 7th of the month of Desius, the day
that the Latins call the nones of July, in the first year of our persecution. This was the
first martyrdom that took place at Caesarea."
Comment would but weaken the impression made by this noble and sober narrative, and, in
our own day, no one would dream of putting it into a better style, as the process was
called in the Middle Ages. We shall see directly the sort of success it achieved.
It was not long before St. Procopius was in the enjoyment of all the honours accorded
to martyrs. It is perhaps scarcely right to quote in evidence the inscription of his name
in the Eastern martyrology, which has come down to us in the pseudo-Hieronymian
compilation. He figures on 8th July, under the formula, In Carsarea Cappadocia, Procopi.
The value of this evidence is not actually lessened by the erroneous reference to Caesarea
in Cappadocia, instead of to Caesarea in Palestine. This is a mistake which runs through
the Hieronymian martyrology and was wholly attributable to the editor. But the Oriental
annals depended, in the case of the Palestine martyrs, on Eusebius's book. They do not
therefore in themselves testify to the existence of a living cultus.
Happily, so far as St. Procopius is concerned, we  have other proofs establishing
the antiquity of the honours rendered him. Pilgrims journeyed to Caesarea to venerate his
holy remains,[] over which they erected a basilica. In 484 it was restored by the
Emperor Zeno.[] Scythopolis, the home of the martyr, also set up a shrine in his honour
the existence of which was attested in the sixth century.[] Devotion to St. Procopius
must soon have become popular and have spread far beyond the boundaries of Palestine. In
proof of this we find the blossoming of legends which early developed around the memory of
the martyr of Caesarea, and of which we shall attempt to trace out the principal phases.
 Antonini Itinerarium, 46, Geyer, p. 190.
 Chronicon paschale, ed. Paris, p. 327.
 Cyrilli Scythopolitani, Vita S. Sabae, c. 75, Cotelier, p. 349.
There are in existence a whole series of different versions, for the most part
unpublished, of the legend of St. Procopius, for the detailed study of which there is no
room here. On some other occasion we propose to discuss from a technical point of view and
to classify the various texts in their relations to one another. But the following are the
results to which this work of classification has led us.
Three main versions of the legend must be distinguished. The first, and the most
ancient, is represented by the text of the Paris manuscript, 1470,[] and by a Latin
Passion which has come down to us in a manuscript belonging to Monte Cassino.[] The
Latin version presupposes a Greek version varying somewhat from the one that we still
possess. We shall, however, restrict ourselves to a study of this latter, as  from
our immediate point of view the divergences are of no importance. The group thus composed
of the two texts will henceforth be referred to as the first legend of St.
 Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum graecorum bibliothcoe nationalis
Parisiensis, p. 149. [publ. in Les légendes grecques des saints militaires, p.
 Bibl. hag. lat., n. 6950.
The second legend is to be met with in a large number of manuscripts, in various
more or less developed versions. M. A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus has published the one which
is most widely spread, printed from a manuscript in the convent of Vatopedi on Mount
Athos.[] Unhappily this particular copy is abridged, and in order to analyse the legend
we have made use of the Greek manuscript Paris, 897.
 'Analekta hierosolymitikes stachyologias, vol. v., St.
Petersburg, 1898, pp. 1-27.
The title of third legend will be reserved for the group consisting of
two closely allied versions of which one has been published in Greek by the
Bollandists,[] and the other in Latin by Lipomani,[] and after him by Suriius.[]
 Acta SS., July, vol. ii., pp. 556-76.
 Tomus sextus vitlarum sanctorum patrum, Rome, 1558, ff. 10715V.
 De probatis sanctorum vitis, for 8th July.
We need not at this point take into consideration the various panegyrics of the saint,
which are usually derived from one or other of the preceding categories.
We shall begin by summarising the first legend of St. Procopius. As far as bulk is
concerned, it is seven or eight times as long as Eusebius's narrative: of its literary
qualities the reader must judge for himself.
The narrative opens with an imaginary edict by Diocletian, a violent attack upon the
faithful. The persecution breaks out and the judge, Flavianus, a monster of cruelty,
arrives at Caesarea. The Blessed Procopius was a native of Elia and performed the
functions of lector and exorcist. His ministry met  with so much success that the
attention of Flavianus was quite naturally drawn to him. Accordingly Flavianus summons him
to his presence.
The judge is seated on the judgment-seat when Blessed Procopius is led in. As soon as
he appears the people are unable to restrain their fury and roar like wild beasts:
"There is the man who despises our gods, and tramples under foot the decree of the
emperor ". Flavianus, inspired by the devil, asks the martyr: "What is your
name?" The martyr replies: "Ia m a Christian. My name is Procopius." The
judge: "Are you alone ignorant of the divine commands of the Emperor, in accordance
with which those who refuse to sacrifice to the gods must themselves be tortured and put
to death? I cannot express my astonishment at seeing you, at your mature age, acting with
such madness. How can you teach others, when you yourself have lost your senses? How dare
you pretend that God was born of a woman and was crucified! Who would not scoff at such an
invention ? I warn you, therefore, to forsake this foolish error and to sacrifice to the
gods and respectfully adore the image of the emperor, if you do not wish to suffer death.
It is to be hoped that the tortures undergone by those who have preceded you may teach you
a little sense."
This harangue by Flavianus is followed by a long speech from the martyr, who exhorts
him to recognise God the Creator. Among the arguments he brings forward are the views of
the philosophers, Hermes Trismegistus, Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Galen and
Scamandrus, who all proclaimed the unity of God. After various arguments in favour of
Christianity the orator is interrupted by the judge who mingles threats with his
exhortations.  The martyr replies, but this time with less calm, nor is he sparing of
insults. The invectives fade away into a lengthy dissertation, after which the judge
orders the tortures to be begun. The martyr is strung up, his body is scraped, his wounds
are made more painful by being covered with salt and rubbed with a rough hair-cloth. The
executioners tear the flesh on his face with iron hooks till he is past recognition, and
they break his bones.
Then the judge commands a certain person named Archelaus to cut the martyes head off,
but the man's hands are suddenly paralysed and he falls down dead.
The exasperated Flavianus sends Procopius to prison, loaded with chains. There the
martyr recites a long prayer. Christ appears to him in the guise of an angel and heals his
wounds. Three days later there is a second interrogatory, in the course of which Flavianus
reproaches him for having had recourse to magic in order to kill Archelaus and to efface
the scars of his own wounds. Then he orders him to be hung up and whipped with thongs of
ox hide; the executioners apply burning coal to his back and reopen all his wounds by
driving red-hot nails into his flesh. The saint does not cease speaking and overwhelms the
judge with reproaches and insults, to which the judge replies by fresh tortures. The
dialogue continues while more red-hot skewers are driven into the martyr's flesh. At
length Flavianus invents a fresh ordeal. He orders a little altar to be set up. The martyr
is made to stretch out his hand filled with burning coal, and incense is flung upon it
"If you throw the burning incense on the altar," declares Flavianus, "you
will have sacrificed to the gods." Procopius remains resolute and his hand never
moves. He weeps, but it  is not his own sufferings that draws tears from his eyes,
but the obstinacy of Flavianus. Thunderstruck, Flavianus at length pronounces sentence of
death. The Blessed Procopius is led outside the town to be executed. He begs for an hour's
reprieve, and offers up a lengthy prayer, after which he submits to the fatal blow. The
Christians carry off his body and give it decent sepulture.
Here we are indeed far removed from the discreet simplicity of Eusebius and the pious
enthusiasm which pervades his narrative. The Passio Procopii, that we have
summarised, is a piece of cold and clumsy rhetoric, relying for its effect on long
speeches supplemented by commonplace sentiments and descriptions of tortures.
It cannot be pretended that the hagiographer was compelled to write in this way for
lack of information concerning the saint. He had in his hands, not the mere summary by
Eusebius contained in the Ecclesiastical History, but his developed text. It was
there he learned that Procopius was a native of Elia, that he lived a holy life, that he
performed ecclesiastical functions-as he omits all reference to Scythopolis, the
assumption is that it was at Jerusalem-that the judge was named Flavianus, that the martyr
died by the sword. Everything that he adds is pure invention, as, for example, the episode
of Archelaus miraculously struck down at the moment when he is about to decapitate the
saint, the vision enjoyed by the martyr in prison, the instant healing of his wounds, and
finally the scene of the incense which is borrowed from the life of St Barlaam. []
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii., pp. 134-45.
It is not my, beneath these borrowed plumes, to  recognise the martyr commended by
Eusebius, the simple-minded Christian nourished on Holy Scripture, an entire stranger to
rhetorical methods and dialectical subtlety. True, we still have the lector, the exorcist
and the ascetic. In later legends the transformation is carried much farther. In them the
austere figure of the clerk of Scythopolis is wholly lost, and we have in his place a
mail-clad warrior, his sword by his side and his lance at rest.
We must now summarise the second legend, notably longer than its predecessor.
Diocletian initiated a terrible persecution against the Christians, despatching edicts
to all parts. The contents of the copy sent to Elia are given. The emperor himself goes to
Egypt where he defeats the usurper Achilles, and thence he proceeds to Antioch where he
receives from the senate a sort of profession of idolatrous faith.
Now there lived at Jerusalem, at that time called Elia, a noble lady named Theodosia
who had a son named Neanias, a pagan like herself. His mother brought him to Antioch in
order to recommend him to the kind notice of the emperor. The latter, captivated by his
good looks and by his zeal on behalf of the heathen deities, forthwith created him Duke of
Alexandria, and before he started to take up his new appointment urged upon him to seek
out the Christians and to punish them severely. And in order to convince him of the folly
of the Christians, Diocletian gave him a summary of the life of Christ with commentaries
of his own.
Thus Neanias takes his departure, like a second Saul, breathing hatred and vengeance.
But he too was to tread the road to Damascus. As he was leaving  Apamea, an
earthquake accompanied by lightning made itself felt, and a voice from a cloud was heard:
"Whither goest thou, Neanias?" At the same time a crystal cross became visible,
and he heard the words: "I am Jesus crucified, the Son of God". Neanias makes
various protestations, but the voice continues, "Thou shalt be to me a vessel of
election," and again, "By this sign thou shalt conquer ".
The converted Neanias journeys with his soldiers to Scythopolis, and there commissions
a certain Mark to make him a gold and silver cross similar to the one seen in his vision.
As soon as it was completed three figures appeared upon it with the names in Hebrew,
Emanuel, Michael and Gabriel. With the help of this miraculous cross Neanias put to flight
a body of Agarenians, killing 6,000 of them. He then returned home to his mother and broke
up all the family idols, distributing the precious metal among the poor. His terrified
mother denounces her son to Diocletian, and he consoles her by giving her permission to
select a new son for herself from among the senators. At the same time he despatches a
letter to the governor named Oulcion, charging him to examine Neanias and put him to death
with torture should he persist in his impiety. Neanias learns the contents of the
emperor's letter, tears it into a thousand fragments, and declares himself a Christian.
The governor orders him to be put in chains and escorted to Cxsarea.
Oulcion presides at the trial and condemns Neanias to be hung up and his flesh torn
with iron hooks. When the executioners are exhausted and all the martyr's bones are
exposed, he is led back to prison. There he is visited by angels, and favoured by a vision
of Christ who baptises him, changes his name to Procopius and heals all his wounds.
 The next day there is a fresh interrogatory. The governor attributes the healing
of the martyr to the power of the gods. Procopius immediately requests to be taken to the
temple. The impious judge and the people imagine that the constancy of the martyr has
given way and that he is about to sacrifice to the gods. He is therefore conducted to the
temple with much pomp. But far from denying his Christian faith, Neanias breaks the idols
in pieces by the virtue of the sign of the cross.
Here two long episodes occur. The first is that of the conversion of the soldiers, who
go to visit Procopius in prison. The martyr persuades his jailer to allow him to conduct
them to the bishop Leontius who baptises them, after which the martyr returns to prison.
He confirms the new converts in their faith, and later they are martyred before his eyes.
As a counterpart to this narrative concerning the soldiers we next have the history of
twelve matrons of senatorial rank who, in their turn, embrace the Christian religion and
die after enduring inexpressible tortures. Theodosia, -the mother of Procopius, is so
touched by the spectacle of their constancy that she too is converted and suffers death
Not long afterwards the governor Oulcion contracts a malignant fever and dies, and
Flavianus takes his place at Caesarea. The martyr is summoned before his tribunal, and
there follow almost all the scenes described in the earlier legend.
Is it necessary to bring evidence to prove that this version is of later date than that
which we have entitled the first legend? It is clear that this longer story is derived
from it and marks a definite step in the legendary development. Neither the setting nor
the  rhetoric of the first legend went so far as to alter the physiognomy of the
martyr in any essential details. It preserved at least the memory of his ecclesiastical
functions. In the later version the lector and exorcist disappears entirely, and we have
in his stead a young heathen soldier and magistrate miraculously converted to
Christianity. His name was originally Neanias, and it required nothing less than a vision
to impose the name Procopius upon him.
This detail alone should suffice to betray the methods of the hagiographer. He has
joined together two histories, that of Neanias which took place under the governorship of
Oulcion and that of Procopius with Flavianus as judge.
What is the origin of the Neanias legend ? It is impossible to say, nor is it necessary
to investigate further before relegating it among compositions of the purest fantasy. It
is a medley of stock incidents and reminiscences. The conversion of St. Paul, the vision
of Constantine, the Acts of St, Polycarp and many other narratives which it were tedious
to recall further, have furnished the compiler of this history with the main incidents.
The introduction of Neanias into the legend has completed the metamorphosis of St.
Procopius. Save for his name, nothing remains of him, and of Eusebius's narrative one can
recall only vague remiriiscences seen in the names of Elia, Scythopolis, Caasama and
The second legend is of great antiquity. It was current in the eighth century, and
inspired sufficient confidence to be produced before the Fathers of the second council of
Nicaea.[] The episode of the miraculous cross was quoted as evidence in favour of the
 veneration of images, as may be read in the Acts of the Council.
 Hardouin, Concilia, vol. iv., pp. 229-32.
In its third disguise the legend has enjoyed a notoriety no less widespread. It was
incorporated in the collection of Metaphrastes, and with the other documents was
reproduced in a large number of copies.[]
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xvi., pp. 311-29.
There are even in existence two versions of this recension, of which the one that would
appear to be the earlier in point of date has not yet been printed. We can, however,
gather a sufficient idea of it from the translation published by Lipomani.[] The second
provides the text of the Acta Sanctorum. These two versions of the third legend are
not sufficiently distinct to require separate treatment here. Without any inconvenience we
may pass over the details peculiar to each and restrict ourselves to the features they
possess in common.
 See above, p. 130.
Let us admit at once that between the second and third legend there are no essential
differences. The succession of incidents is the same in both cases, nor has the new editor
thought lit necessary to tone down the absurdities of his model. His efforts appear to
have been concentrated upon the style, and all the conventions of old-fashioned rhetoric
are pretentiously displayed throughout the pages in which the Passion of St. Procopius is
supposed to be related in a more attractive form. I will quote only a single instance in
illustration of the methods of a school of hagiographers which has enjoyed much
Each time the editor comes across an historical or geographical name he uses it as a
text on which to build up an -erudite little dissertation into which he drags all the
reminiscences that the name recalls to his mind. Thus, when be relates that Diocletian
arrived at Antioch, it reminds him that at Daphne, near the town, there was a celebrated
sanctuary of Apollo. He therefore hastens to add that the Emperor went there to make
solemn sacrifice to the God. Nor was it possible for him to forget that Antioch played an
illustrious part in the history of the primitive Church, and that it was there the
disciples of the new faith first received the title of Christians. The writer has no idea
of passing the fact over in silence. []
 Acta SS., July, vol. ii., p. 55, n. 5, 6.
A few lines farther on the question arises as to the native town of Theodosia, the
mother of Procopius. In all earlier texts the town had been said to be Elia. This is how
the new editor deals with the theme: "Theodosia occupied a leading position in the
city. This city had previously borne the names of Jerusalem and of Sion. But after it had
been taken by the Romans as a punishment for its crime towards Christ, Hadrian, who then
wielded the imperial sceptre, renamed it Elia."[]
 Ibid., n. 7.
The mention of Caesarea furnishes yet further occasion for a display of erudition.
Unfortunately in this instance the editor's learning is at fault, for he confuses Caesarea
Paneas or Philippi with Caesarea Stratonica in Palestine, and he flounders in his error.
"The judge commanded that the saint should be conducted to Caesarea, where he was
busy with the construction of a temple. We refer to that town of Caesarea which we are
accustomed to call of Philip, and which was formerly called Tower of Straton. The
Plicenicians named it Paneas, a title derived from the neighbouring  mountain range
Paneos. And as we have recalled that town, we should reproach ourselves were we to pass
over in silence an interesting story that has reference to it " . . . and he proceeds
to relate, in the words of Eusebius,[[l]] the well-known legend of the sculptured group
representing, according to tradition, Christ and the woman who suffered from an issue of
 Hist. Eccl., viii., 18.
 Acta SS., July, vol. ii., pp. 563-64, n. 27-29.
We need not proceed further with the accumulation of proofs of the pedantry of our
author. It has not diminished the popularity of his narrative. It is of this third legend
that there still exists the greatest number of copies, and it served definitely to instal
St. Procopius for all future ages in the character of a warrior martyr.
The inevitable result of transforming Procopius lector into Procopius soldier has been
to duplicate the individual. In certain synaxaries one may read, under the date 8th July,
the passion of the great martyr Procopius, that is to say the officer of the second and
third legend, followed by the commemoration of Procopius, exorcist, martyred at
Caesarea.[] This latter is further celebrated on 22nd November, and on that occasion a
slightly abbreviated version of Eusebius's account is read.[]
 Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, pp. 805, 808.
 Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, p. 245.
In some copies the commemoration of St. Procopius is repeated on the following day,
23rd November. But there he no longer bears his own name "Procopius of
Palestine," but is styled Procopius "who suffered in Persia "[]
 Ibid., pp. 247, 249.
Whence comes this qualification? We know of no  Persian martyr of the name of
Procopius- It is obvious that we are here in the presence of a blunder, but it is
impossible to ascertain its origin in any very precise way, and we can but chronicle
another of the many aberrations of the compilers of synaxaries. Those who are in the habit
of handling this class of volume will entertain no doubt whatever that it is the one and
only St. Procopius who is made to figure in these various disguises.[]
 The Vatican MS. 679 contains an enkomion eis ton hosion
martura Prokopion ton Persyn, of which the author is Hesychius, a priest of Jerusalem.
There is nothing in this document by which one may distinguish Procopius the Persian from
Procopius of Caesarea. See Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxiv., pp. 473-82.
The synaxaries of recent date and the menaea which have borrowed their historical
sections, only inscribe St. Procopius the officer, and add commemorations of his mother
Theodosia, of the twelve matrons put to death with her, and of the officers Antiochus and
Nicostratus, who, according to the legend, were in command of the soldiers converted by
The Latins[] have also studied the Acts of St Procopius, and we have seen that the
original narrative of Eusebius has been preserved as a separate document in their
passionaries alone. From it is derived the very exact commemoration contained in the
historic Latin martyrologies.[] We have explained further that the  first legend
of St. Procopius was probably known to the West through a Latin version made in Southern
Italy. The portion of the second legend that was read at the Council of Nicaea was
translated by Anastasius the librarian. But it is almost certain that a complete
translation must also have existed.
 1 will not discuss here the cultus of St. Procopius in Slavonic
countries. The literary monuments all have their origin in Greek sources. The others are
of comparatively recent date. Concerning the cultus of the saint in Servia see C. Jirecek, Das Christliche Element in der topographischen Nomenclatur der Balkanldnder in the Sitzungsberichte
der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. cxxxvi., 1897, n. xi., pp. 36-37.
 The following is the text of Adon: "In Palaestina natalis sancti Procopii
martyris, qui ab Scythopoli ductus Caesaream, ad primam responsionum eius confidentiam,
irato judice Fabiano (read Flaviano) capite caesus est". The same account
occurs in Usuard, Ed. Sollerius, pp. 388-89
We are justified in inferring this from a study of the Latin adaptations of the Acts of
St. Procopius. For the illustrious martyr has not been spared a single one of the
indignities to which clumsy hagiographers have subjected those saints on whom they have
bestowed special attention. Not satisfied with composing on his behalf a history in which
facts are completely travestied, and the character of the saint perverted, they have
further transformed his history into a sort of passe-partout, a specimen biography which
has been made to fit the lives of various obscure saints concerning whom all information
The second legend of St. Procopius served in the first place to furnish Acts for St.
Ephysius of Cagliari.[] Apart from a few-petty incidents clumsily tacked on to the
text, and a few names of places designed to connect the saint with Sardinia, the story
such as we know it has scarcely been revised, and in particular nothing has been done to
give it a greater appearance of probability.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. iii., pp. 362-77.
There is of course no question of a mission to Alexandria in the legend of Ephysius,
but the name of the city has become that of the mother of the martyr who, in the original
legend, was called Theodosia. Both are equally described as noble ladies of Elia and as
having for husband aChristian named Christopher. LikeProcopius,  Ephysius is taken to
Antioch by his mother and introduced to Diocletian, who entrusts him with the duty of
persecuting the Christians, not indeed of Egypt, but of Italy. The vision occurs at a
place called Vrittania, and it is at Gaeta that a silversmith named John supplies him with
a crucifix. By the power of the sign of the cross Ephysius scatters the Saracens and then
sets sail for Sardinia. He lands at Arborea, and in a short time makes himself master of
the whole island. It is from Cagliari that he writes to Diocletian and to his mother to
announce his conversion.
The emperor despatches to him one of his officers named Julicus, who, on Ephysius's
refusal to apostatise, subjects him to cruel tortures. Like Oulcion in the original
legend, Julicus is shortly struck down by a fatal fever. His place is taken by Flavianus,
whose acquaintance we have already made. This savage judge does not forget to inflict on
the martyr the ordeal of St. Barlaam, after which he condemns him to have his head cut
off. The sentence is carried out apud Caralitanam civitatem in loco qui dicitur Nuras.
The history ends with a short narrative concerning a St. Juvenalis, Archbishop of
Cagliari, an entirely unknown personage,[] and with the following declaration, which
however does not enable us to believe for a moment in the good faith of the biographer: Cuius
passionem ego presbyter Marcus, dum a principio usque ad finem oculis meis vidissem, oratu
ipsius beati martyris Ephysi fideliter veraciterque descripsi proesentibus atque posteris
 Acta SS., May, vol. vi., 732. 3d ed.]
 "And seeing that I, Mark, the priest, had beheld his passion with my own eyes
from the beginning unto the end, at the request of the blessed martyr Ephysius himself, I
have faithfully and truly recounted it in the hope that it will be profitable alike to our
contemporaries and to posterity." [Analecta Bollandiana, vol. iii., p. 377. 3d
 At Venice, in the church of St. Daniel, there is preserved the body of a St.
John, martyr (sancti Johanis ducis Alexandrini martyris), which was brought there
from Constantinople in 1215.[] For this unknown martyr some history some
needed, and no better plan was forthcoming than that of despoiling St. Procopius for his
benefit, and applying to him the legend in all its details and in its most complete and
fabulous form. In this case also the martyr was called Neanias in his pre-Christian days
and his mother was born at Elia, while it was the Emperor Maximian who entrusted to him
the duty of exterminating the faithful of Alexandria. The two prefects who successively
summoned him before their tribunal bore the names of Oulcion and Flavianus; the conversion
of the soldiers, of the twelve matrons and of the mother of the martyr all recur.
Leontius, instead of being Bishop of Caesarea, figures on this occasion as Bishop of
Alexandria, and it is in the latter city that John meets with his death.[]
 Flaminius Cornelius, Ecclesix Veneta antiquis monumentis ...
illustrata, vol. iv., Venice, 1749, pp. 170-71.
 Acta SS., May, vol. iv., pp. 304-7.
It is now time to summarise the preceding pages. Thanks to the testimony of Eusebius,
the existence of the martyr St. Procopius is fully established together with the main
outlines of his life and the manner of his death. Of itself this narrative would not be
sufficient to establish the fact of a traditional cultus, and the same is true, as has
been already explained, of the inclusion of the saint in the Hieronymian Martyrology. The
existence, however, of the shrines at Caesarea and at Scythopolis supply an
incontrovertible proof of veneration.
 The narrative of Eusebius was rapidly supplanted by legends throughout the East.
It has left no trace in the Greek menologies in which the place which one would have liked
to see assigned to it on 8th July is invariably filled by one or other of the legendary
forms. Of the three legends with which we are familiar it is the most historical version
that has enjoyed the least popularity.
One may say briefly that throughout the Middle Ages St Procopius was venerated in the
character attributed to him by the second legend. Even in our own day he still belongs to
the category of warrior saints. It is important to remember that the type is one common to
a number of well-known heroes-George, Theodore, Mercurius, Menas, Demetrius and othersand
that the only literary monuments in which we can inform ourselves concerning most of them
are documents of the same class as those which constitute the legend of Procopius. Let
us now see how much of them the historian must reject or retain.
 See our Légendes grecques des saints militaires, p. 1-119.
The historic residue is this: a Christian named Procopius, a native of Jerusalem, was
martyred under Diocletian by order of the judge Flavianus, and suffered death by the
sword. We have the good fortune to be able to verify these details, and to confirm their
accuracy, thanks to the single historical source which acquaints us with the personality
of St. Procopius, and which a providential accident has preserved for us. On the other
hand, the comparison of our legend with Eusebius's book establishes without a doubt that
all the other details are a pure invention.
Thus the names of the saint's parents, his state of life, his qualities, his life and
adventures, the tortures he endured, his imprisonment, the conversions he  brought
about, his miracles, the visions with which he was favoured, all these are mere
fabrications. Not only must the impossible Oulcion be expunged from the list of Roman
magistrates, but we must exclude from the Greek liturgical books the names of Theodosia,
of the twelve matrons and of the two officers as being the simple inventions of
And yet the legends we have been dissecting had their origin in a historical work of
the first quality.[] Such are the results hagiographers are capable of producing when
they have good documents to work upon. In what terms shall we qualify their productions
when, in the absence of all guidance, they have felt justified in giving free rein to
 Acta SS., July, vol. ii., p. 576.
In the dossier of St. Procopius, therefore, the legend fills the lowest place,
and if we had no other document to add to it we should find ourselves reduced even when
dealing with so illustrious a martyr to a series of notes of interrogation. The certitude
at which we may arrive of the historical existence of a saint and the legitimacy of his
cultus, in no sense depends on the popularity of his legend. A' few lines written by a
contemporary, the text of a martyrology based on the liturgical traditions of a Church, or
a basilica dating from ancient times, these are elements of far greater value to the
student, and one is thankful to be able to affirm that they are not wholly lacking in the
credentials of some very celebrated saints, whose credit has been seriously compromised by
the clumsy tactics of their biographers.
Such testimony is not to be found, alas, among the documentary evidence concerning St.
Ephysius of Cagliari or St. John of Alexandria. The very  existence of the former and
the antiquity of the cultus paid to him are only guaranteed, as we have seen, by a title
which is patently spurious. Saintship on this insecure basis is unhappily by no means
without precedent in the annals of Sardinian hagiography.
As for the martyr John, it appears that his body was stolen from the chapel of a
monastery in Constantinople as little known as the saint himself.[] His incompetent
biographer has only succeeded in accentuating our suspicions concerning his identity.
 Flaminus Cornelius, Ecclesiae Venetae, vol. iv., p. 171.
PAGAN SURVIVALS AND REMINISCENCES.
Rites and symbols common to Christianity and to ancient
religions - Suspicious Practices - Incubation -
Collections of Miracles - Literary borrowings from pagan sources - Unavoidable analogies -
The subject on which we are about to enter is fertile in surprises, and, let us confess
at once, in regrettable confusions. It has borne, and still bears, the brunt of an
over-ingenious criticism, eager to connect certain religious phenomena which come
specially within the range of hagiography with certain pagan beliefs and practices. By
means of a subtle exegesis, frequently based on a very wide learning, students try to
discern beneath the surface of Christian legend remains of the older mythologies and links
with an earlier worship; they point out, between rival religions, analogies or similitudes
which they maintain can only be explained by the fact of their having been borrowed.
There are men indeed who do not hesitate to assert that in the struggle between
Christianity and idolatry victory was not always on the side where it has been assumed to
be, and, as might be supposed, it is the cultus of the saints that supplies arguments in
support of this paradox.
 It were unfair to try and discredit the study of rites or of comparative religion
by insisting unduly on the exaggerations of those who have sinned in these matters by
over-refinement or by superficiality. The problem before us, in spite of the obscurity in
which it is involved, is worthy of serious examination.
A material but wholly external link between the new religion and the old consists in
the common possession of a certain number of rites and symbols which we are accustomed to
regard as our own special property, and which we are consequently surprised to discern
existing in polytheism and bearing much the same meaning.
In point of fact it would be very surprising if, when seeking to propagate her
doctrines in the midst of Grmco-Roman civilisation, the Church had adopted for her
intercourse with the people a wholly unknown language, and had systematically repudiated
everything that until then had served to give expression to religious feeling.
Within the limit imposed by the conventions of race and culture, the method of
interpreting the emotions of the heart cannot be indefinitely varied, and it was natural
that the new religion should end by appropriating to itself a whole ritual which only
required to be sanely interpreted to become the language of the Christian soul aspiring to
the one True God. All external signs which did not implicitly involve the recognition of
polytheism would find grace in the eyes of the Church, and if on the one hand she showed
no undue haste in adapting them officially to her use, on the other hand she did not
protest when they made their appearance as a means of expressing the religious instincts
of the people. Certain attitudes of prayer and reverence, the  use of incense and of
lamps burning night and day in the sanctuary, the offering of ex-votos as a testimony to
benefits received, are such natural expressions of piety and gratitude towards a divine
power, that it would be strange if their equivalents were not met with in all religions.
It is therefore an uncritical proceeding to fall back on the hypothesis of a direct
bon-owing, when human nature, acting under the influence of religious feeling, affords an
adequate explanation.[] Nevertheless I know there are persons who in our places of
pilgrimage cannot watch the faithful mounting the steps of the shrine on their knees,
without reflecting that the Emperor Claudius ascended the steps of the Capitol in the same
manner .[] Others are quick to recall that renowned fresco in the Naples museum in
which one may see a priest of Isis standing before the cd1a of the temple and 
presenting to the adoration of the congregation a form of pyx containing water from the
sacred Nile.[] With but little alteration this scene might be made to represent an
exposition of relics or a benediction in accordance with our existing rites. Cicero tells
us that at Agrigentum, there was a much-venerated statue of Hercules of which the mouth
and chin were worn away by the many worshippers who pressed their lips to it. The bronze
foot of the statue of St. Peter in Rome has not withstood any better the kisses of the
 The prayer of Demetrius, given by Seneca in De Providentia, v.,
5-6, offers one of the most curious examples in illustration of this. The following are
the terms in which the philosopher expresses the conformity of his will to that of the
gods: "Hoc unum de vobis, di immortales, queri possum, quod non ante mihi voluntatern
vestrm notam fecistis. Prior enim ad ista venissem, ad que nunc vocatus adsum. Vultis
liberos sumere? vobis illos sustuli. Vultis aliquam partern corporis? surnite. Non magnam
rem promitto; cito totum relinquam. Vultis spiritum? Quidni? nullam moram faciam, quo
minus recipiatis quod dedistis. A volente feretis, quicquid petieritis. Quid ergo est?
maluissem offerre quam tradere. Quid opus fuit auferre? accipere potuistis. Sed ne nunc
quidern auteretis, quia nihil eripitur nisi retinenti. Nihil cogor nihil patior invitus,
nec servio Deo sed adsentior, eo quidem magis quod scio, omnia certa et in aeternum dicta
lege decurrere. If the reader will compare this prayer with the Suscipe of St.
Ignatius, the eloquent outpouring which closes the volume of Spiritual Exercises, he will
be surprised at the resemblance between the two. Yet it is scarcely temerarious of me to
affirm that in the moment of composing it St. Ignatius was in no way inspired by the
recent reading of Seneca.
 Dion Cassius, lx., 23.
 C. A. Bättiger, Isis-vesper in Kleine Schritten, vol. ii., Dresden,
1838, pp. 210-30.
 Verr, iv., 43
Yet modem Christians have undoubtedly learnt nothing from the Sicilian contemporaries
of Verres, any more than the pilgrims dragging themselves on their knees in the fulfilment
of a vow, or a Catholic priest blessing his congregation with a reliquary are carrying out
rites inherited from the Romans under the Empire. What is true is that the same thought,
under analogous circumstances has found expression after an interval of centuries in
identical actions and attitudes. Concerning this point it appears to me that no further
discussion is called for.
It must however be confessed that there are certain rites of a markedly pagan character
sometimes brought to our notice, the origin of which is distinctly open to suspicion. The
curious ceremony which consists in dipping the images of saints into water, too obviously
recalls the sacred bath of the mother of the gods[] for it to be possible that there is
no connection between the two. In the same way, it has been thought the Church preserved
for many centuries a survival of the  rite of incubation, a superstitious usage
widely practised in the sanctuaries of Asculapius, Amphiaraus and Serapis. In its
essential features it consisted in sleeping in the temple, after due preparation and
certain prescribed ceremonies, with the object of being favoured in a dream by an
apparition of the divinity, and obtaining either a revelation as to the future or the
healing of some disease.
 Ovid, Fasti, iv., 337-46.
We possess very fall information concerning incubation, thanks mainly to the
inscriptions at Epidaurus.' The object aimed at was the dream in which the god revealed
himself and bestowed health, or, more frequently, indicated the treatment to be followed.
The somewhat complicated ritual which usually served as preparation was only a condition
for propitiating the divinity.
 Collitz-Bechtel, Sammlung der griechischen Dialekt-Inschritten, n.
3339-41; P. Cavvadias To hieron tou Askepoius en Epidauro, Athens, 1900, pp. 256-67. [A.
Defrasse- H. Lechat, Epidaure, Paris, 1895. 3d ed.]
Among the documents which have been collected on the subject of Christian
incubation[] a first place must be accorded to the miracles of SS. Cosmas and Damian
and SS. Cyrus and John. It would be difficult to deny that a number of their features do
recall incubation as it was practised in the temples of Aesculapius. The saints appear to
the patients during their sleep and either cure them or prescribe remedies. Nevertheless,
there is nothing to show that at these Christian shrines the practice of incubation was
systematically organised as it was at Epidaurus, or that we have in fact anything more
here than isolated occurrences.
 L. Deubner, De incubatione capita quatuor, Leipzig, 1900, 138
pages. [3d ed. has added about two pages of discussions of incubation, with particular
reference to practises in the Orient, largely drawn from his Les recueils antiques de
miracles des saints, Brussels, 1925.]
Without wishing to contest the fact of the survival, in certain basilicas, of a rite
that undoubtedly had its  superstitious side, we must not lose sight of the very
special character of the documents which give us information concerning it. It is an
admitted fact that the larger collections of miracles bequeathed to us by the Middle Ages
are compilations in which the most varied materials are mixed up at random, and which in
consequence can only be used with the utmost circumspection.
Greek hagiographic literature is notably less rich than the Latin in collections of
this kind. But the examples it does contain greatly surpass all others in their grotesque
and improbable features, and there can be no doubt that a close study of their origins
would lead to the identification of a number of pagan reminiscences and even of formal
One of the most celebrated collections is that of the miracles of St. Menas, attributed
to Timothy of Alexandria.[] Tillemont who was only acquainted with an incomplete
edition of the work containing but five miracles,[] declared that "the first is
altogether extraordinary, the second rather less so, the third and fourth not bad, and the
fifth in the highest degree scandalous". Tillemont was not the first person to be
scandalised, and editors of the Menaea[] felt they could not admit the narrative in
question without notable modifications. The fundamental idea of this imaginary miracle,
putting aside the burlesque treatment, is anything but Christian. The story bears as its
title, The Paralytic and the Dumb Woman, and it tells how the saint ordered a
paralytic to share the couch of a dumb woman, and it was as the  result of this
order, under the influence of surprise and emotion, that the one recovered the use of his
limbs and the other her powers of speech.
 Published by J. Pomjalovskij, Vie de St. Paisios le grand (in
Russian), St. Petersburg, 1900, pp. 62-89.
 Mémoires pour servir a I'histoire ecclisiastique, vol. v., p. 760.
 At the date 11th November.
This anecdote recalls too vividly certain comic cures attributed to Aesculapius, not to
have some connection with the iamata of the god. What proves moreover that it has
no personal connection with St. Menas, is that the story is to be found with identical
details in the volume of miracles of SS. Cosmas and Damian.[] As for those who resent
the idea of any literary interdependence between Christian miracles and the official
records of the marvellous cures wrought through the invocation of Aesculapius, it is
necessary to remind them of several well-authenticated examples of identical miracles in
the one and in the other which must be derived from one and the same source. The miracle
of the broken goblet, attributed to St. Lawrence by Gregory of Tours,[] may be read in
a closely similar form on one of the steleae at Epidaurus.[] The marvellous history of
the decapitated head, related on the same stelae, is an adaptation of a still more ancient
narrative;[] it also has been taken over by Christian chroniclers in spite of its
obviously grotesque character.[]
 Wangnereckius-Dehnius, Syntagmatis historici de tribus sanctorum
Cosmea et Damiani nomine paribus partes duoe, Vienna, 1660, pp. 481-83.
 In gloria martyrum, c. xxx.
 Collitz-Bechtel, SammIung der griechischen Diatekt-Inschritten, n. 3339.
Le miracle du vase brisé in Archiv für Religions-wissenschaft, ser. viii.
(1905), pp. 305-9.
 See O. Crusius in Mélusine, vol. v., p. 203.
 P. Perdrizet in the Revue des études anciennes, vol. ii., 1900, pp. 78-79;
also in Mélusine, vol. v., pp. 97-100.
The editors of volumes of miracles have freely availed themselves of both borrowing and
adaptation, and it will only be after a thorough inquiry into the sources  from which
these miracle books are derived that they can be made use of as historical documents. As
far as investigations have gone at present, it is impossible to ascertain what really
belongs to them, and it is consequently only with prudent reservations that they can be
quoted in evidence of the custom we are discussing.
It is therefore very difficult to decide to what extent incubation, as it appears to
have been practised in certain basilicas, continued to retain all the characteristics of
pagan incubation, nor do we know whether the Church ever formally sanctioned the rite in
certain places, while attempting to give it a Christian character. It is however quite
certain that the extent of its diffusion throughout the Christian world has been greatly
exaggerated. In point of fact the majority of examples that are quoted have no more real
connection with incubation than the story of Redemptus, Bishop of Ferentino, related by St
Gregory as follows:-
"Quadam die dum. parochias suas ex more circuiret, pervenit ad ecclesiam beati
Eutychii martyris. Advesperascente autem die, stratum fieri sibi juxta sepukrum martyris
voluit, atque ibi post laborem quievit. Cum nocte media, ut asserebat, nec dormiebat, nec
perfecte vigilare poterat, sed depressus, ut solet, somno, gravabatur quodam pondere
vigilans animus; atque ante eum idem beatus martyr Eutychius adstitit, dicens: Redemte,
vigilas? cui respondit: Vigilo. Qui ait: Finis venit universm camis, finis venit universae
carnis, finis venit universae carnis. Post quam trinam vocem visio martyris, quae mentis
eius oculis apparebat, evanuit" []
 "On a certain day as he was making the round of his diocese he
came to the church of blessed Eutychius, the martyr. As night was coming on, he had a bed
made for himself beside the martyr's tomb, and there after his labour he lay down to rest.
Towards midnight, so he declared, he was neither asleep nor yet could keep fully awake,
but his active mind oppressed with drowsiness, as often happens, seemed to be crushed by
some heavy weight. When lo! the said blessed martyr Eutychius stood before him, saying,
'Redemptus, sleepest thou?' To whom he answered, 'I am awake'. Whereupon he said, 'The end
of all flesh has come, the end of all flesh has come, the end of all flesh has come'.
After which triple utterance, the appearance of the martyr which had been perceptible to
his mental vision vanished." Dial., iii., 38. [There has been some reordering
of the paragraphs in the 3d ed.]
 Note that the bishop, without expecting any vision, merely had his couch prepared
in the basilica of the martyr. There was neither rite nor religious observance involved.
Save for the apparition, which was quite accidental, the incident was one which might
still occur in missionary lands. Bishop and priest are frequently compelled to pass the
night in the humble little chapels of the villages they pass through on their apostolic
journeys. In other instances we hear of sick persons who refuse to quit the tomb of the
saint until they are cured. They fall asleep and the cure comes to them, with or without a
vision, while they are sleeping. In all these instances there are certain details in
common with those of incubation, but the ceremonial as a whole and the institution itself
are not found.
In general the study of superstitious practices of which the existence has been proved
at certain shrines dedicated to very popular saints, should be carried on with far greater
discernment and a more critical spirit than is generally to be met with among folk-lorists
who have undertaken the duty of collecting documents for the historian. The accuracy of
their information is often more apparent than real, and not a few among them possess a
quite remarkable gift for establishing far-fetched resemblances.
Thus there is the ancient rite which consisted in passing through some aperture-a stone
with a hole  in it or the hollow of a tree-in order to be cured of certain diseases.
Folk-lorists may be excused for discovering reminiscences of the custom in certain
churches in which the tomb of the saint is raised from the ground in such a way as to
allow of pilgrims passing beneath, as for example at Gheel in Campine where lunatics make
the round of the choir by passing beneath the archway above which stands the shrine of St.
Dymphna. It must, however, be admitted that even if it exists at all, the connection
between such rites is extremely remote, and that there is a wide distinction between a
vain observance the efficacy of which depended upon a pierced stone, and a practice mainly
founded on a belief in the virtue of relics.[]
 H. Gaidoz, Un vieux rite médical, Paris, 1892, 85 pages.
But folk-lorists have gone much further than this, and have been determined to discover
examples of the suspected practice here, there and everywhere, even in the first ages of
Christianity and beneath the roof of our most venerable basilicas. St. Peter's in Rome
itself has not escaped. This is how Gregory of Tours de scribed the tomb of the apostle in
a celebrated chapter .[] "Hoc enim sepulcrum sub altare collocatum valde rarum
habetur. Sed qui orare desiderat, reseratis cancellis, quibus locus ille ambitur, accedit
super sepulcrum, et sic fenestella parvula patefacta. immisso introrsum capite, qum
necessitas promit efflagitat"[]
 In gloria martyrum, xxvii.
 "For this tomb placed beneath the altar is considered to be a very rare thing.
But he who desires to pray, opening the grating with which the spot is enclosed, comes
right over the tomb, and when the little orifice is exposed to view, inserting his head he
makes such petitions as his needs suggest."
Archeaologists are too familiar with the "fenestella confessionis " (the
window or orifice of the "confession ") for it to be necessary to explain its
purpose:  its position was affected by the arrangement of its surroundings and the
shape of the "confession," and in no sense whatever by any superstitious custom.
The sepulchre of St. Vendrandus at Clermont,[] which also had its "
fenestella," has been quoted with equally little reason; with still less, the tomb of
St. Martin which Gregory of Tours touched with his aching tongue "per lignum
cancelli".[] Far from recalling pagan rites, these acts of devotion at the shrine
of a saint inspired by a desire to approach as closely as possible to the relics, are
distinctly redolent of the spirit of primitive Christianity.
 In Gloria confessorum, xxxvi.
 "Through the bars of the grating." De virtutibus S. Martini, iv.,
2.-All these examples are quoted by Gaidoz, op. cit., pp. 36-37.
Nevertheless we are far from denying the survival, among Christian nations, of a
certain number of customs of which the origin is extremely remote, and which are in direct
opposition to Christian beliefs or Christian ethics. The greater number of the
superstitions against which the Church has perpetually made war with changeful tactics and
varying degrees of success, are an inheritance from our pagan ancestors.[] As a general
rule they have no direct relation with public worship, and their accidental association
with established religious practices or even their connection with the name of a saint
confers on them no sort of authorisation. The incident of the Count of Toulouse, who
suddenly left Montpellier in 1212 terror-stricken at having seen St. Martin's bird
flying on his left hand[]  has no reference either to hagiography or to the
history of religions, but is connected with the history of superstitions just as
definitely as the "sinistra cornix" of Moeris in Virgil. The same may be said of
all astrological practices[] and incantation formulas,[] in which one would be
surprised at meeting with the names of saints, did we not know that absurdity and
incoherence is the characteristic note of all manifestations of popular credulity. This
aspect of the question, however, need not detain us for the moment. What does interest us
is to know in what instances and to what extent hagiographic monuments reveal the
existence of an actual link between polytheism and any public and normal manifestation of
 See, for example, Weinhold's studies on the vestiges of ritual
nudity in various superstitious practices, Zum heidnischen Ritus in the Abhandlungen
der k. Akademie der Wissenschatten zu Berlin, 1896, i., pp. 1-50.
 Pierre de Vaux-Cernay, Hist. Albigensium, n. 47; Bouquet, vol. xix., p. 43:
"Viderat enim quandam avem quarn indigenae vocant avem sancti Martini, ad sinistram
volantem, et perterritus fuit valde. Ipse enim more Sarracenorum, in volatu et cantu avium
et ceteris auguriis spern habebat."
 In a collection of portents published by D. Bassi and E. Martini, Catalogus
codicum astrologorum graecorum, Codd. Ital., Brussels, 1903, pp. 158-69, one may find
the following invocations recommended: Stephen, Thecla, Michael, Parasceve, George, Irene,
Cosmas and Damian, Catherine, Demetrius, Anastasia, the Holy Cross, Anne, the Blessed
Virgin, Nicholas, Barbara, Pantaleone and Gregory. They would appear to be the saints
whose names had been given to the stars from which the portents were derived.
 In Egypt the names of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and the forty martyrs of
Sebaste have more than once been found inserted in magic formulas. R. Pietschmann, Les
inscriptions copies de Farâs in the Recueil de travaux relatifs à la
philologie et à l'archeologie egyptiennes et assyriennes, vol. xxi., 1899, pp.
175-76. See also W. Pleyte and P. A. Boeser, Manuscrits coptes du musée d'antiquites
des PaysBas, Leyden, 1897, pp. 441-86.
Saint-worship and hero-worship - The centre of hero-worship -
Solemn translations -
Relics - Fortuitous coincidences.
The debate at this point has to be transferred to a vast arena, for it is the
veneration of saints itself which is denounced as being a prolongation of idolatrous
paganism. The critics admit that, in its first beginnings, the religion of Christ was pure
and undefiled, and rejected everything that could obscure the conception of the one True
God. But when the faithful ceased to be an elect few, and when the Church was, so to
speak, invaded by the populace, she was forced to relax her severity, give way before the
instincts of the mob, and make concessions to the polytheistic ideas that were still
stirring in the brain of the people.
By the introduction of the cultus of the saints, the Church opened the door to a
clearly marked current of paganism. There is no essential difference, so it is affirmed,
between the saints of the Church and the heroes of Greek polytheism. Beyond question the
two cults resemble each other in their manifestations, but they are also identical in
their spirit, and we are clearly here in the presence of a pagan survival.[] Such is
the thesis that is developed by the folklorists with much self-complacency.
 "Christianorum quoque religio habebat atque habet suos
semideos, suos heroas; sanctos scilicet martyresquc." L. Deubner, De Incubatione, p. 57: "Die Heiligen der christlichen Kirchen vor allern die der griechischen Kirche,
stellen die gerade Fortentwicklung des griechischen Heroenkults dar. Die Heilige sind die
Heroen der Antike." G. Wobbermin, Religionsgeschichtliche Studien, Berlin,
1896, p. 18. See also E. Maass, Orpheus, Munich, 1895, p. 244.
We cannot neglect the details of the parallel. Nothing could be more instructive, if
only that it enables  us to appreciate the exact value of certain hagiographic
[l] Concerning hero-worship see F. A. Ukert, Ueber Dämonen, Heroen
und Genien in the Abhandlungen der k. sdchsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschalien, vol. i., pp. 138-219; Preller, Griechische Mythologie, W. Schmidt, Der
Atticismus, vol. iv., Stuttgardt, 1896, p. 572, and above all F. Deneken, Heros, in
Roscher, Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, vol. i., col. 2441-589.
[P. Foucart, Le Culle des héros chez les Grecs, in Mémoires de I'Institut, vol.
x1ii, 1922, p. 1-166. Added in 3d ed.]
Among the Greeks, heroes are mortals made superior to the vulgar herd by the gifts they
have received from the gods. Privileged beings, holding a position midway between divine
and human nature, they can lay claim to some portion of the power of the immortals, and
they are enabled to intervene effectually in human affairs.
These heroes, the mortal sons of some divinity, great warriors, benefactors of humanity
or founders of nations, were specially honoured in the city with which they were connected
either by birth or by their exploits. They became its protectors and patrons. Every
country, indeed every town, had its heroes to whom monuments were erected and whom the
people invoked in their prayers.
The centre of devotion to a hero was his tomb, which was sometimes erected in the
middle of the agora, the cerftre of public life. In most cases it was sheltered by a
building, a sort of chapel known as heroon. A great number of tombs of heroes
adorned the celebrated temples, just as the tombs of saints are honoured in Christian
 On this special point see K. Th. Pyl, Die griechischen
Rundbauten, Greifswald, 1861, p. 67 ff.
When the actual body of the hero could not be venerated a cenotaph was erected to his
memory. But no means were neglected to secure the veritable  remains, for the people
had faith in the power of a hero's bones and ashes, and when the precious object which was
to serve as a protection to the city could be discovered, it was seized upon and conveyed
thither with the greatest pomp and with ceremonies which undoubtedly recall the
translation of Christian relics.[]
 Lobeck, Aglaophamus, p. 280; Rohde, Psyche, vol. i.,
The most celebrated account of one of these pagan translations is that of the
transference of the remains of Theseus to Athens,[] under the archonship of Apsephion (B.C. 469). The hero rested in the island of Scyros, but the spot of his interment was
carefully kept secret by the inhabitants. An oracle arrived in the first instance from
Delphi, recommending the Athenians to go and take possession of the bones of Theseus and
cherish them in their own city with all the honour that was due to them. Cimon, son of
Miltiades, proceeded to lead an expedition against Scyros, took possession of the island
and instituted a search for the tomb. A further prodigy revealed the exact spot: he was
simply to dig at the place that an eagle would point out to him with beak and talon. In
the coffin was found the skeleton of a tall man with spear and sword. Cimon carried his
precious burden on board his trireme, and the remains 'of the hero made a triumphal entry
into Athens amid sacrifices and every demonstration of joy. He was laid to rest in the
centre of the town near the site of the gymnasium, and the tomb of the hero, who, in his
life-time had been kind and helpful to the humble, became an inviolable refuge for slaves
and other needy persons anxious to escape from the exactions of the mighty. A great
sacrifice in his honour was established on the eighth of the  month of Pyanepsion in
memory of his return from Crete, but he was also commemorated on the eighth of other
 Plutarch, Theseus, 36; Cimon, 8.
This page of Plutarch might be adapted, with but few alterations, to more than one
medixval translation of relics. In the majority of cases these solemn journeys of relics
are preceded in the same way by heavenly warnings; miraculous incidents accompany the
discovery of the sacred remains; the people provide a brilliant and enthusiastic welcome -
magnificent shrines are erected for their reception, and their presence is regarded as a
protection to the country; finally an annual feast-day is inaugurated in honour of the
Nor was this an isolated case. The translations of the ashes of heroes were of frequent
occurrence in Greece.[] Thebes recovers from Ilion the bones of Hector, and presents to
Athens those of CEdipus, to Lebadea those of Arcesilaus, and to Megara those of Aigialeus.
Rarely are these disinterments ventured upon without an authorisation or command from some
oracle. In spite of these divine interventions it is frequently necessary to have recourse
to cunning in order to gain possession of a sacred tomb, and the incident of Lichas
possessing himself of the body of Orestes [] forms a curious counterpart to certain
expeditions in search of the relics of a saint
 Pausanias is our leading authority on this point. The most important
documents have been quoted by Rohde, Psyche, vol. i., p. 161, and by Deneken
 Herodotus, i., 67, 68.
Not infrequently also it happened, as in the Middle Ages, that a new cultus sprang up
at some fresh discovery of human bones. Whenever these were of  large size they were
assumed to be the skeleton of a hero, and sometimes an oracle would be consulted as to his
name. Thus it was that the Syrians learnt from the god of Claros that the body of a giant
found in the dry bed of the Orontes was that of a hero of the same name, of Indian
 Pausanias, viii., 29, 4.
It is not only in the honours paid to the mortal remains of heroes that we may trace an
analogy between pagan practices and devotion to relics. just as, in our own churches,
objects that have belonged to saints or that recall their memory in some special way are
exposed for the veneration of the faithful, so in the temples visitors would be shown
divers curiosities whose connection with a god or hero would command their respect. In
Rome were to be seen the bones of a whale found at Joppa which were said to be those of
the monster to which Andromeda was exposed. In other places might be seen the cithara of
Paris, the lyre of Orpheus, the ships of Agamemnon and iEneas. And as the eager credulity
of travellers rendered the neocoroi and the periegetai as ingenious as our
modern vergers and ciceroni, in the end no relic was too improbable for them to
profess to exhibit: Leda's egg, the white sow with her thirty little'ones sacrificed by
Aeneas on the site of Alba, the anvil which Jupiter suspended to Juno's feet, and the
remains of the clay out of which Prometheus had created man.[]
 The documents have been collected by Lobeck, Aglaophamus, p
52. Ukert, op. cit., pp. 202-4; Friedilinder, Sittengeschichle, vol.ii., chap. i., Die
No single detail will be lacking from the parallel when we have pointed out that, like
ourselves, the ancients were not without experience of duplicated  relics, and were
surprised to discover at Memphis the hair which Isis had torn out in her despair at the
death of Osiris and which they had already been shown at Coptos. More remarkable still the
tombs of certain heroes were to be found on more than one spot. Thus that of Aeneas was
pointed out not only at Berecyntus in Phrygia, but also at Aenea in Macedonia, and on the
shores of the Numicius near Lavinium.[]
 J. A. Hild, La légende d'Enée in the Revue de I'histoire
des religions, vol. vi., 1882, p. 67.
Would it not appear as though the critics had established their case now that we have
had to admit the existence among the Greeks of a cultus which in every detail recalls that
paid to our saints, a cultus with relics, translations, inventions, apparitions and
spurious or even forged relics. Can further parallels be needed to prove that the
veneration of saints is merely a pagan survival?
The theory is plausible, and yet it will not stand for a second before the judgment of
history. The cultus of the saints is not an outcome of hero-worship, but of reverence for
the martyrs; and the honours paid to the martyrs from the outset by the early Christians,
men who had known the baptism of blood, are a direct consequence of the high dignity of
those witnesses to Christ as proclaimed by our Lord Himself. From the veneration with
which their mortal remains were treated and from the confidence of Christians in their
intercession arose the cultus of relics, with its varied manifestations, with, alas, its
too natural exaggerations,-indeed, we may frankly say, with its excesses, excesses which
have occasionally compromised the memory of those to whom it was intended to pay honour
 See Les origines du culte des martyrs. p. 1-119. 3rd ed.]
It seems scarcely necessary to insist that heroworship among the Greeks never possessed
the same  theological foundation and was never expressed in the same exact
definitions which always place an infinite distance between God and man favoured by God.
But it had an analogous starting-point and developed under the influence of general ideas
which are not without some affinity with those which urged swarms of the faithful towards
the tombs of the martyrs. Hence it necessarily arrived at practically identical
consequences, and the history of these two cults represents a logical and parallel
development without however any interdependence. It was not necessary to remember the gods
and the heroes in order to turn in perfect confidence to the martyrs, to beg of them the
healing of the sick, to place perilous journeys and difficult undertakings under their
protection or to bestow on them visible proofs of gratitude for benefits received.
Moreover it was certain to come about that the tomb of a martyr should be regarded not
only as an honour but as a safeguard to the town that possessed it, and that the patron
saint should receive all those honorary titles which in earlier days had fallen to
protecting heroes: Sosipolis, Sosipatris, Philopolis and the like.[]
 Upon these grounds M. Gelzer maintains that St. Demetrius came to
replace the tutelary god of Thessalonica. His words are these: "Der Typus einer
solchen Paganisierung des Christentum ist nun vor allem der heilige Demetrius. Er ist
gleichsarn die Personifikation oder die Fleischwerdung des antiken griechischen
Polisgedankens. Wie Apollon und Herakles führt er den Beinamen Sosipolis." Die
Genesis der Byzantinischen Themenverfassung in the Abhandlungen der kgl.
sächsischen GeselIschaft der Wissenschaften, vol. xviii, 1899, n. 5, p. 54.
In the same way, there is no real reason for supposing that the earliest narratives of
the finding of relics, whatever may be the analogy of the facts or the similitude  of
the details, were inspired by the records of pagan translations. These narratives, of
which the earliest date from the fourth century, were neither forgeries nor imitations.
They are the natural outcome of an identical state of mind under similar circumstances.
We must however, guard against exaggeration. If we are told that the ideas disseminated
through society by hero-worship predisposed the mind to a ready acceptance of the rdle of
saints in the Christian dispensation and of their value as intercessors before God, I see
no reason whatever for contesting the statement. The markedly rapid development of the
cultus of saints and martyrs may well be explained by the fact that the human mind was
already prepared to accept it. In point of fact, ancient ecclesiastical writers made no
sort of difficulty about admitting the existence of analogies between the cultus of
martyrs and that of heroes. Indeed, Theodoret made use of the fact as the startingpoint of
his controversy with the pagans. Although other people should take exception to our
practices, he declares, you should be the last to complain, you who possess heroes and
demi-gods and deified men.[]
 Grac. affect. curatio, viii., Schulze, vol. iv., pp. 902-3.
As for certain exaggerations which from time to time have made their appearance to the
detriment of the religious spirit, I see no reason whatever for connecting them with
unconscious reversions to paganism. We have already pointed out sufficiently the popular
tendency towards material and tangible things to account for these aberrations, which need
to be continually kept in check, and which are to be found more especially in countries
where passions are strong and imaginations keen. A statue or the body of a saint which
appeals to a mares eyes, impresses him far more vividly than  mysteries which appeal
only to his faith. I should not therefore regard the manifestations of Neapolitan piety as
mere paganism,[] though I am far indeed from proposing them as a model to be imitated.
 The work by Th. Trede, Das Heidenturn in der Römischen Kirche, 4 vols., Gotha, 1889-91, is not only very wearisome to read, but is the outcome of a
very superficial study. The author is intimately acquainted with the Neapolitans, but his
prejudices, which he is never able to set aside, show that he is quite incapable of
understanding the character of the people and their exuberant devotion. Throughout the
work he makes no allowances for them.
Pagan survivals in worship - Holy places - Christian
transformations - Adaptation of names -
A method for ascertaining primitive titles - Sacred sources.
We believe we have sufficiently demonstrated by examples that too much value must not
be attributed to exterior resemblances or fortuitous coincidences when any question arises
regarding the continuity that may have existed between certain Christian practices and the
Graeco-Roman faith, not to mention other religions. The matter has to be investigated
somewhat more closely, and wherever, in hagiographic matters, there is question of going
back to the origins of a traditional cultus, three essential elements must be studied: the
place, the date, and the legend. We will examine briefly the various questions connected
with these points.
It was only after the complete triumph of Christianity that it became possible to
establish her sanctuaries on the very sites of ancient temples that were either disused or
had been wrecked. The Christians had not awaited the final abandonment of pagan monuments
to erect magnificent buildings in accordance with the  requirements of their liturgy.
In many cases they attacked the ancient religion on its own ground and contested its
We are fairly well instructed concerning the methods adopted by the Church to combat
superstitions attached to certain localities. In most cases she did so by erecting a
basilica or a chapel, and by fostering there a new cultus of her own in order to distract
popular attention, and to supply Christian nourishment to the religious instincts of the
We know, for example, how Caesar Gallus (351) caused the body of the martyr Babylas to
be conveyed to Daphne, which was at that time both a centre of idolatry and a scene of
debauchery, and how in order to house it he commanded a church to be built in the
immediate vicinity of the temple of Apollo of which the oracle was forthwith reduced to
silence. Julian, enraged at receiving no reply from it, caused the relics of the martyr to
be returned to Antioch.[]
 The documents on this point have been collected by Tillemont, Mémoires,
vol. iii., p. 405.
In the time of St. Cyril there was a little town named Menouthis near Canopus, about
twelve miles east of Alexandria, celebrated for its oracle which the heathens came in
crowds to consult and by which even Christians were sometimes led away.[] It is true
there was a Christian church at Menouthis dedicated to the apostles that had been built by
Theophilus of Alexandria, but the den of superstition attracted greater crowds than the
house of God. Cyril put a stop to these idolatrous gatherings by causing the bodies of SS.
Cyrus and John which until then had lain in the Church of St.  Mark at Alexandria, to
be transported in isolemn state to Menouthis. Such were the beginnings of one of the most
famous shrines of Christian Egypt.
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. ii., p. 1083; Deubner, De incubatione,
pp. 80-98. [See Analecla Bollandiana, vol. xxx, p. 448-450, 3d ed.]
Gregory of Tours relates[]how, in the Gévaudan district, there was a large lake on
a mountain named Helanus, to which, as he says, the country folk made some sort of
libation, by flinging stuffs, cakes and various objects into the water. Every year the
people would arrive with waggons, bringing food and drink with them, slaughtering cattle
and giving themselves up for three whole days to feasting. The fourth day, just as they
were starting for home, they were always caught in a violent storm. The Bishop of Javols
arrived on the scene and exhorted the crowd to abstain from evil practices, threatening
them with divine wrath. But his preaching was in vain. Then, under the inspiration of God,
he built a church in honour of St. Hilary of Poitiers on the shores of the lake,
transported thither certain relics of the saint and began his exhortations anew. This time
he was more successful, the lake was abandoned and the objects that formerly had been
flung into its waters were offered to the basilica. Moreover the storms ceased to rage at
the time of the festival, which henceforward was consecrated to God[] as the dedication
 in gloria confessorum, ii. [Helanus becomes Helarius in
the 3d ed.]
 We have less reliable information concerning the substitution that took place on
the Mons Garganus. But it has long been admitted that the legend of the sanctuary contains
echoes of the oracle of Calchas so celebrated on this spot. See, for example, F.
Lcnormant, A travers I'Apulie el la Lucanie, vol. i., Paris, 1883, p. 61; G.
Gothein, Die Culturentwicklung Südi-Italiens, Breslau, 1886, pp. 67-75.
In this particular instance we see that the Church did not take possession of the
sacred spot, but that she  ruined it by competition. When once the temples were
definitely forsaken she was too wise to abandon to secular usages sites that had
frequently been selected with great discrimination, and she consecrated them to the one
true God whenever circumstances rendered such a course possible.
The history of the liquidation of the property of vanquished paganism has been related
many times, and it has been possible to draw up long lists of churches erected upon the
foundations of heathen temples, or built with their very stones, or indeed simply
installed in the ancient edifice.[] The classic examples of this latter category are
the Pantheon in Rome and the Parthenon at Athens.
 Marangoni, Delle cose gentilesche e profane trasportate ad uso e
adornamento delle chiese, Rome, 1744, pp. 256-87; L. Petit de Julleville, Recherches
sur 1'emplacement el le vocable des églises chrétiennes en Grèc in the Archives
des Missions scientifiques, second series, vol. v., Paris, 1868, pp. 469-533; P.
Allard, L'art paien sous les empereurs chrétiens, Paris, 1874, pp. 259-98.
In the case of many other less illustrious temples replaced at a later date by
Christian churches the memory of their primitive destination has been less carefully
preserved. Certain learned men have invented an ingenious theory in order to supplement,
in many instances, the silence of history. Because it has sometimes been possible to note
an analogy between the Christian title of the transformed temple and its earlier title,
they have felt justified in attributing to the Church a systematic Christianisation of
pagan sanctuaries supposed to be based upon a very accommodating consideration for new
converts. In order to permit them the illusion of not having wholly broken with the past,
the new churches were placed under the patronage of saints  who, by their name or
legend, recalled the divinity who had previously been honoured on the same spot.
Thus, at Eleusis we find a church of St. Demetrius on the site of a temple of Demeter:
it is the name of the goddess but slightly modified. It is true that there was also a
church of St. George, but it was again Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, who was
disguised under the name of the "holy agriculturist," Georgios.[] In
other places St. George has taken the place of Theseus or Hercules, but on those occasions
it is as the vanquisher of wild beasts that he is substituted for the victor over the
Minotaur or the destroyer of the Lernean hydra.[] Thus, whether the analogy be phonetic
or symbolic the arch~eologists make capital out of it, and find little difficulty in
pointing out some resemblance between the new patrons and the old.
 Petit de Julleville, op. cit., pp. 492, 493.
 Ibid., pp. 504, 505.
It is somewhat more difficult to prove that these resemblances have been generally
sought after, and the proof should certainly be forthcoming whenever it is proposed to
link the name of the saint with that of the deity he displaced. It is clear that most
valuable topographical indications might be collected by this process.[] But its
efficacy is entirely illusory, and if certain critics have put it to strange uses, others
have regarded it with well-merited suspicion.
[3 A few examples are offered in the 3d ed. - Hi1arius, Cyril of
Alexandria and St. Cyr, bishop Babylas at Antioch - with the warning that "from a
small number of examples one may not conclude a system." This revised section largely
subsumes the following paragraph, "in those instances . . . a sacred lake,"
which does not appear in the 3d ed.]
In those instances in which we have historical proof of the action of the Church,
favouring the cultus of a saint in order to uproot some superstitious practice, we have no
reason to suspect any link between either the name or the legend of the saint and those of
the pagan divinity he supplanted. Remember the martyr-bishop  Babylas opposed to
Apollo; Cyrus and John, the one a soldier, the other a monk, brought to Menouthis to
combat the oracle of the goddess; and Hilary of Poitiers, confessor and pontiff, enticing
the populace from the shores of a sacred lake.
I am far from denying that here and there popular devotion may occasionally have become
tinged with the still vivid memories of ancient superstitions and that they have often
profoundly modified the physiognomy of certain saints; that, for example, SS. Cyrus and
John have ended by becoming types of healing saints, or disinterested physicians, like
Cosmas and Damian, or that this latter group-of which the origin and true history will
probably always evade research -have assumed in popular imagination a new and definite
character as kindly genii eager to help humanity in imitation of the Dioscuri.[] But,
as far as facts are concerned, nothing authorises one to affirm that the Church has
systematically encouraged these transpositions of names leaving the thing unaltered, and
indeed it is most improbable that in early days she should have lent herself to such
 Pagans were in the habit of noting the resemblance as may be seen
from various texts of the miracles of SS. Cosmas and Damian. They have been collected by
Deubner, De incubatione, p. 77. Dr. R. Harris who has searched all
hagiographic literature for replicas of Castor and Pollux has strangely overlooked Cosmas
and Damian. [The omission, however, has been supplied in his later book, The Cult of
the Heavenly Twins, Cambridge, 1906, pp. 96-104.]
A few examples are necessary to put the reader on his guard concerning this seductive
theory to which we have referred. Thus there is St. Elias, dedicated to whom there exist
in Greece a large number of chapels built on the summit of hills and mountains. Some 
writers have admitted that Elias usually takes the place of his namesake Helios, the god
of the sun.[] The assimilation is specious, but it is not bome out by the facts. It is
not on the heights of Greece that the shrines of Helios were the most numerous. Moreover,
sun-worship became almost completely absorbed in Apollo-worship, a fact which upsets the
play upon words that is supposed to account for the numerous chapels erected to St. Elias.
The history of the prophet as it is related in the Bible, his being carried up to heaven
in a chariot of fire, his apparition at the side of Christ in the Transfiguration,
"made of him the natural patron of high places".[] It is probable enough that
the invocation of St. Elias has taken the place in many instances of some pagan divinity,
but there is nothing to prove that the divinity in question was Helios.
 C. Wachsmuth, Das alte Griechenland im neuen, Bonn, 1864, p.
23; Petit de Julleville, op. cit,, pp. 505-6.
 F. Lenormant, Monographie de la voie sacré Éleusinienne, Paris, 1864, p.
Moreover in order to draw conclusions from these titles they ought at least to be
primitive and to belong to a time anterior to the moment when the dedication of the
sanctuary was altered. But in point of fact several of those quoted are of more recent
At Athens, for example, the church of St. Paraskeve occupies the site of the Pompeion,
a building dedicated to the Organisation of religious processions,[] as Pausanias tells
us: es paraskeuen esti ton pompon. [. Is it not obvious that there must be some
connection between St. Parakeve, the titular saint of the church,  and the
preparation, paraskeue, of processions which took place on the same spot? And yet
we are in a position to affirm, without fear of error, that no such connection exists, and
that we are in the presence of a simple coincidence the importance of which has been
exaggerated by certain archaeologists.
 Petit de Julleville, op. cit., pp. 488, 514; A. Morrimsen, Athenaer
christianw, p. 89.
 Pausanias, i., ii., 4.
In point of fact St. Paraskeve can only have bestowed her name upon the chapel at a
comparatively recent date, for she was unknown to the ancients, and liturgical documents
of the tenth and eleventh centuries prove that her cultus, and still more her popularity,
were posterior to that period. Need we add that even had her memory been held in honour
from the most remote times, no one would have dreamt of bestowing her name on the little
edifice to which Pausanias refers. If the author makes use of the word paraskeue in
this connection it was certainly not the name by which the building in question was known
to the people.
It may be observed that various scholars, starting from a vague resemblance between
names combined with certain topographical data, have built up regular romances on the
strength of some hagiographic text. Among these productions we may class the attempt of a
mythologist [] to prove that St. Donatus took the place of Pluto, or, what comes to the
same thing, of Aidoneus, King of the Molossi, whose name, every one is ready to admit,
bears a resemblance to "Aios Donatos ". I should be the first to concede that we
possess no really authentic records concerning St. Donatus, and moreover that various
scraps of mythological lore have been made use of in order to supply him with a 
biography. But the erudite fiction which seeks to identify him with the god of the
infernal regions merits as little consideration as the traditional narrative.
 E. de Gubernatis, Aidoneo e San Donato, studio di mitologia
epirolica in the Rivista Europea, an. v., 1874, vol. ii., pp. 425-38.
At the back of more than one learned disquisition on the origins of devotion to the
saints one may discern the idea that the great martyrs and thaumaturgists of the ancient
world, more especially those who were early regarded as the patrons of cities, were the
direct inheritors of some tutelary deity whose altars attracted the multitude. The
concourse of pilgrims could thus be easily explained by the renown attached to the spot.
The wave of popular devotion would merely have been slightly deflected from its earlier
course, abandoning the temple of the idol in order to flow past the Christian
 Exception might be taken on more than one point to the ideas on this
subject expressed in his posthumous volume by E. Lucius, recently published by G. Anrich, Die
Anänge des Heiligenkults in der christlichen Kirche, Tübingen, 1904. See Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxiv., p. 487.
The instances, previously quoted, of a species of Christian "canalisation" of
the irresistible stream of religious emotion, are by no means rare in history.
Occasionally even, we are willing to admit, the phenomenon may have been spontaneously
produced, without any intervention from the leaders of the Church. But all this does not
justify us in formulating a general law which, if true, would have a very important
bearing on the study of comparative religions. It would not be difficult, with the
assistance of texts and documents, to quote the name of some god or pagan hero specially
honoured in each of the Greek towns which later were to become the centres of Christian
pilgrimages. This only amounts to saying that one local cult replaced  another just
as one may note everywhere that one religion succeeded to another. But it does not follow
that there was any bond of connection between the two.
On the Capitoline hill in Rome there was a temple dedicated to the lord of heaven, who
there received through many centuries the incense of kings and people. In later centuries
pilgrims from the whole world flocked to Rome to the tomb of the prince of the apostles.
Yet would any one seriously suggest that St. Peter is the direct heir of Jupiter
A chapter of popular hagiography connected with the christianisation of centres of
superstition by the introduction of the cultus of the saints is suggested by the passage
from Gregory of Tours already quoted. We refer to water-worship, which was all the more
difficult to uproot as the object of it could neither be destroyed nor removed at will.
The number of wells placed under the patronage of some saint is very considerable. Certain
devoted students of local history have drawn from the fact conclusions which cannot all be
equally commended for accuracy and definiteness.[] It would be a wearisome undertaking
to attempt a synthesis of this mass of material, incongruous and ill-classified as it is.
We shall not embark upon the task, although we cannot refrain from inquiring whether the
majority of  the wells to which the names of saints are attached are in any sense
witnesses to the struggle of the Church against paganism.
 It would be difficult to draw up anything like a complete
bibliography on this subject, and we do not propose to undertake the task. References to
it may be found in A. Bertrand, La religion des Gaulois, Paris, 1897, pp. 191-212; Bulletin
archiologique du comité des travaux historiques, 1897, pp. 150-60; 1898, pp.
Lxv-lxvi. Consult also the important work by R. C. Hope, Holy Wells: Their legends and
Superstitions, in The Antiquary, vol. xxi., 1890, pp. 23-31, and the following
volumes; also the book by the same author, Legendary Lore of the Holy Wells of England, London, 1893, 222 pages.
This is clearly not the case. It would be extremely difficult to prove that all these
springs were the objects, in remote times, of superstitious worship, and it is obviously
false to assert that the memory of a saint could only be connected with them by an act of
ecclesiastical authority. As we have already shown, the common people never miss an
opportunity of baptising the noteworthy spots in their locality, and quite naturally they
bestow upon them any name that happens to occupy their minds. A well dedicated to St.
Martin is not necessarily a holy well; it merely testifies to the popularity of St.
Martin. One must therefore distinguish carefully between the wells which only attract
attention by their name, and those which have been a centre of devotion or superstition.
To this second category belong all those to which the heathen were in the habit of
offering their prayers and their gifts.
Dates of festivals - Alteration of object - Difficulty of
proving coincidences - A method for ascertaining
dates of pagan festivals - Examples.
An important element in seeking to establish the first beginnings of a cultus is the
correspondence of dates. Celebrations which attract a large concourse of people are
necessarily fixed for specified days. Every one will agree that there is nothing more
difficult to alter than the date of a fair or pilgrimage; in nothing does the tenacity of
popular custom display itself more forcibly than in the faithful observance of festivals.
One may be perfectly certain that if a Christian people has retained anything whatever
of a pagan festival it will certainly be the date.
Generally speaking, it may be said that when it was simply a question of affording some
compensation to converts compelled to renounce all pagan rejoicings, they were invited to
keep the feasts of the martyrs which were celebrated on the anniversary of their death. In
this way St. Gregory Thaumaturgus organised annual reunions for his people in honour of
the martyrs, and thus facilitated the transition from worldly pleasures to purely
 Vita S. Gregorii Thaumat., Migne, P. G., vol. xlvi., p. 954.
It was far otherwise where the bishops had to combat some definitely idolatrous
festival and to uproot some celebration of immemorial antiquity. When, as must frequently
have happened, it was impossible for them to prevent the people coming together, the only
thing for them to do was to change the purpose of the gathering, and thus sanctify the
day.2 The Bishop of Javols would never have triumphed over the superstitions that were
rife in his diocese, had he been content to celebrate the feast of St. Hilary on the
shores of Lake Helanus on the day appointed by the liturgy. What  he did do was to
celebrate.it on the day of the heathen festival: in hac solemnitate quae dei erat, says
Gregory of Tours.[] Hence the coincidence of the dates becomes an element of the first
importance for those who are anxious to establish any bond of continuity between the pagan
and the Christian feast-day.
[2 On the island of Malta at the end of the sixteenth century, a feast
in honour of St. John the Baptist was celebrated, the ceremony of which had plainly showed
pagan aspects. R. Wünsch, Das Frühlingsfest der Insel Malta, Leipzig, 1902, there
saw the feast of the return of spring, christianized at an unknown period. He had reason;
but I cannot follow him when he pretends to recognize in the procession of 12 March (pp.
68-70) a following of that custom already long abolished. And I like less his ideas on the
ceremony of Good Friday at Athens, which for him recalls the feasts of Adonis; and not at
all the minute paralleling of St. John the Baptist and Adonis which is not essential to
his thesis. 3d ed.]
 See above, p. 170.
But if all are agreed as to the importance of this class of proof, they are far from
agreement as to the difficulty of demonstration. Precise details are indispensable and it
may well be asked whether the subject is of a nature to afford it. The differences between
the various calendars, the difficulty of bringing them into agreement, the multiplicity of
feasts in honour of the same divinity, the liturgical divergencies in various localities,
all complicate the problem of the date to such an extent as to render the assimilation
almost always illusory.
Where it is merely a question of establishing a parallel between some Christian
solemnity and a festival of the Roman calendar the problem is simple enough and one can
arrive at definite conclusions. Thus it may freely be admitted that the greater Litanies
of St. Mark's Day are a Christian continuation of the Robigalia observed on 25th
April.[] The date, taken in conjunction with the similarity of the rite, and the
identity of the object of the festival, leaves no place for reasonable doubt.
 Anrich, Mysterienwesen, Leipzig, 1894, p. 231; Duchesne, Christian
Worship (Eng. tr.), pp. 261-62.
But the solution in other cases is often far less easy to arrive at. The number of
pagan festivals being very considerable, the chances of a purely fortuitous coincidence
are proportionately great, and it seems  probable that the natalis invicti, which
was celebrated on 25th December, had no influence on the choice of that day as the Feast
of the Nativity of our Lord. The selection of the date would appear to have been the
result of a calculation having as its basis 25th March, that being presumed to be the date
of the death of Christ.[] This last theory, which makes the cycle of the feasts of the
infancy of our Lord depend upon Easter, certainly the older celebration, is more probable
than the other, which rests only on an ingenious identification of date.
 Duchesne, op. cit., pp. 247-54; Thurston, Amer. Eccles.
Rev., Dec. 1898, pp. 561-576. [See also an article by P. H. Grisar, Relazione tra
alcune leste cristiane antiche e alcune usanze pagane, in Civilt,i cattolica, ser.
xvii, vol. xii, p. 450-8. 3d ed.)
People have also professed to see in the Feast of the Purification a Christianised
version of the Lupercalia. In point of fact this last was kept not on the 2nd of February
but on the 15th.[]
 Marquarctt, Le culte chez les Romains, vol. ii., pp. 179-83.
A. Dufourcq in Etudes sur les Gesta martyrum, Paris, 1900, p. 207, asks himself
whether the date of the feast of St. Hippolytus, 13th August, has not been fixed by that
of the pagan festival Dianae in Aventino (Marquardt, op. cit., vol. ii., p.
373). The link he suggests between the two feasts is of the slenderest, and 13th August in
undoubtedly the date of the death of St. Hippolytus. [After the Marquardt citation the 3d
ed. adds: Cf. D . DeBruyne, in Revue Bénédictine, vol. xxxiv, p. 18-26.]
Coincidences are far more difficult to establish when it becomes a question of
comparing our own calendar with that of the Greeks or Asiatics, and with very varying
systems of festivals. Thus we find that the festival of the gods and the heroes was
celebrated at Athens not only on a special date but on the corresponding date of each
month.[] These repeated commemorations increase very materially the possibilities of a
coincidence, and it becomes obvious that we must  not hastily jump at conclusions
because two feasts happen to fall on the same day.
 Chr. Petersen, Ueber die Geburtstagsleier bei den Griechen, Leipzig,
1857, pp. 313-14. See also A. Mommsen, Feste der Stadt Athen, Leipzig, 1898, pp.
We have already pointed out how inconclusive is the reasoning which professes to
recognise, in the Christian titles of certain ancient shrines, the primitive name of the
tutelary divinity of the same place. It is equally dangerous to attempt to deduce the
unknown date of a pagan festival from Christian data presumed to have some sort of
connection with it.[] The efforts already made in this direction have always appeared
to me, if their authors will forgive my saying so, particularly unfortunate, in spite of
the remarkable ingenuity of which they give evidence. The following is a recent example. A
series of deductions, drawn from the survival of the worship of the Dioscuri, would seem
to point to the existence from the very earliest times of a monthly festival in honour of
the two heroes, which would fall, in accordance with common usage, on the corresponding
date of each month, either the 18th or the 19th. The following is the argument by which we
arrive at this unexpected discovery.[]
 M. H. Usener is of a different opinion. This is how he expresses
himself: "Die christlichen Heiligen die an die Stellen von Göttern gesetzt worden
sind, gestatten uns in ihrem Gedenktag die Zeit des ursprUnglichen G6tterfestes mit
Sicherheit zu erkernnen und dadurch das Wesen des Festes und der Gottheit zu
ermitteln," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, vol. vii., 1904, p. 14.
 J. Rendel-Harris, The Dioscuri in the Christian Legends, London, 1903, p.
62. The same author has recently published on this subject a new work which is scarcely an
improvement on its predecessor: The Cult of the Heavenly Twins, Cambridge, 1906.
See H. Thurston, S.J., in The Month, cviii. (1906), pp. 202-7; Analecta
Bollandiana, 1907, no. 1. [The 3d ed. omits the reference to Rendel Harris' 1906 work,
and to Thurston's article; it adds: This is a veritable obsession of Dioscures. Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. xxvi, p. 332-33; vol. xxxviii, p. 182-3.]
We start with the assertion that a whole series of saints are merely Castor and Pollux
in a Christian disguise; then the dates of their feasts are collocated in the following
19th April.-St. Dioscorus.
19th May.-St. Polyeuctes.
18th June.-SS. Mark and Marcellianus.
19th June.-St. Judas-Thomas and SS. Gervase and Protase.
18th August.-SS. Florus and Laurus.
18th September.-St. Castor.
18th December.-St. Castulus.
19th December.-St. Polyeuctes.
I have shown elsewhere that not one of the above saints has anything whatever in common
with the Dioscuri.[] Nearly all of them are clearly defined historical personages,
while their cultus is regularly established and rests on a traditional basis. Add to this
the fact that no Dioscuri are to be met with in the martyrologies for 19th April. It is
the 18th May that must be meant, for on that date the memory of St. Dioscorus, lector, was
celebrated in Egypt. Th eigth of May is not the date of the martyrdom of St. Polyeuctes.
This saint is the second in the group of Timotheus and Polyeuctes inscribed in the Syriac
martyrology for 20th May, and it is only by the commonplace blunder of a copyist that the
names have been repeated among the martyrs of the i 9th.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxiii., pp. 427-32.
But putting aside all these difficulties, admitting even that there may have been some
sort of link-which as a matter of fact there was not-between the Dioscuri and the saints
already enumerated, let us suppose that their feasts were all celebrated on the same day
of the month, the 18th. Should we be justified in concluding that in all probability the
festival of the Dioscuri was fixed for the 18th of every month? Far from it, for it is
obvious at a glance that the date of the 18th in the  Julian Calendar does not
correspond with the 18th in the Greek, Syrian or Asiatic calendars, in accordance with
which the festival of Castor and Pollux, had it been celebrated monthly, would in the
first instance have been fixed.
We have here a further example of the necessity of not being satisfied with a mere
coincidence of dates.[] One of the arguments brought forward to prove that SS. Florus
and Laurus are merely the Dioscuri under another name, is the date of their feast, 18th
August, for St. Helena is also commemorated on this same day. Helena, in the fable, is the
sister of Castor and Pollux. Give Florus and Laurus their correct names, and you will then
discover in the martyrology an authentic feast of the Dioscuri and their sister.
 Harris, op. cit., pp. 1-19. See also Analecta
Bollandiana, vol. cit., pp. 428-29; and compare The Month, March, 1907, pp. 225
The matter, however, is not quite so simple as it appears. It so happens that the
collocation of Florus and Laurus with Helena is entirely fortuitous. No single Latin
martyrology makes any mention of Florus and Laurus, who are only known to Greek tradition,
whereas no Greek synaxary names Helena on i8th August; she is always associated with
Constantine on 11th May, and does not appear in any other place. It was the accidental
result of a compilation composed of Greek and Latin elements that brought Helena and the
Greek martyrs together at the same date in the martyrology. This fortuitous collocation
does not go back further than the sixteenth century, a simple observation which should
suffice to eliminate from the ancient calendar the supposed festival of the Dioscuri
corresponding to 18th August.
We shall have something to say later concerning the  theory which has resulted in
fixing 7th January as the date of the festival of the " Epiphany of Dionysus "
In order to establish a connection between St. Pelagia, specially honoured on 8th
October, and Aphrodite, much emphasis has been laid,[] among other reasons, on the date
of the festival, supported by the text of an inscription at Aegm in Cilicia, in the
Theo Sebasto Kaisari kai Poseidoni asphaleiw kai Aphrodeite Euploia []
Euploia is the title of the Aphrodite of Cnidus. It might at least be expected that the
first thing to prove would be that the goddess was honoured on 8th October. Not at all.
One solitary date has been verified in connection with the worship of the Pelasgic
Venus,[] and that has reference to a local festival, the dedication of a temple and
statue to the goddess at Nigra Corcyra (Curzola) on 1st May, in the year 193 Of the
Christian era. But it is pointed out that Poseidon is mentioned in the same votive
inscription, and that in point of fact the 8th of each month was dedicated to Poseidon. I
must confess that the argument would make but a feeble impression upon me, even if it
could be proved that the God of the sea had his festival on the 8th of the month in
Cilicia as well as at Athens.
 H. Usener, Legenden der heiligen Pelagia, Bonn, 1879, p. xxi.
 C. I. G., 4443.
 C.I. L., iii., 3066, Signia Vrsa Signi Symphori templum Veneri Pelagiae a solo
fecit et signum ipsius deae posuit Falcone et Claro cos. k. mais.
Pagan legends - Christian adaptation s - Three cases to be
considered - Examples: Legend of St. Lucian of Antioch
- Legend of St. Pelagia and allied legends - St. Livrada.
The legends which offer the most vulnerable points, those which in their entirety or in
certain portions appear to reflect pagan traditions, are those which have most attracted
the attention of critics, and it is in fact mainly through such legends that they have
attempted to connect a certain number of the saints-and not the least celebrated among
them-with paganism. We must follow them upon their own ground and attempt to outline the
methods which should be applied to this branch of research.
If people merely wish to assert that among a series of legends certain features are to
be found that were already in circulation among the nations of classical antiquity, we
have nothing to say against their view, and indeed when we ourselves were treating
generally of the origins of our hagiographic narratives we quoted sufficient examples of
such adaptations to leave no room for doubt on the point.[] The further our researches
in the domain of comparative literature can be carried, the greater will be the number of
these parallels, and people will be surprised to discover in mediaeval lore so many
remnants[] of classical antiquity.
 See above, pp. 30-35.
 In order to convey some idea of the discoveries that may still be made in this
direction, I will quote a page from the collection, justly celebrated in the Middle Ages,
in which St. Gregory has brought together so many quaint narratives, stories of saints,
pious anecdotes, visions and revelations with which, with charming candour, he entertains
his deacon Peter. The thirty-sixth chapter of book iv. of the Dialogues bears the
curious tide, De his qui quasi per errorem educi videntur e corpore. One of the
incidents related by St. Gregory thoroughly illustrates the title. The saint had gathered
it from the lips of a certain Stephen who related it as his own experience. Stephen had
died and saw his soul conducted to hell. Brought before "the judge who presided
there" he was refused admittance. "That is not the man I sent for," said
the judge, "it was Stephen the blacksmith." Forthwith the soul of the dead man
was returned to his body and the blacksmith, his namesake and neighhour, died (Migne, P.
L., vol. lxxvii., p. 384). It is impossible to be mistaken in this matter. The friend of
St. Gregory was an unscrupulous person who boasted of being the hero of a tale he had read
in some book. Without speaking of St. Augustine, he might have read it in Plutarch, or
still better in Lucian's Philopseudes, in which Cleomenes relates in similar
fashion how having been taken to Hades before the tribunal of Pluto he was sent back to
earth again, and one of his friends, the blacksmith Demylus, was taken in his stead. See
E. Rohde, Psyche, 2nd edition, vol. ii., p. 363; L. Radermacher, Aus Lucians
Lügenlreund in Festschrift Theodor Gomperz dargebracht, Vienna, 1902, p. 204.
[The 3d ed. adds a reference to A. Jülicher, Augustinus und die Topik der Aretalogie, in
Hermes, vol. liv, 1919, p. 94-103.]
 But whether such material was used in its raw state or whether it was first given
a Christian colouring, there is, as a general rule, no reason for talking of pagan
infiltration or even of pagan survivals. It is not the religious element which is
responsible in these cases, it is the stream of literary activity carrying along with it
the debris of earlier ages.
The problem to be solved is whether a Christian legend perpetuates in any sense a
religious incident appertaining to paganism, in other words, whether it is the expression
of an ancient cultus, surviving under a Christian form. One must, therefore, in the first
place, put aside all legends that are independent of any religious observance. In
hagiographic collections such as menologies and passionaries and in compilations such as
synaxaries; and martyrologies there are many names and documents which represent merely a
literary tradition. These may well date from classic times  without our having to
discuss the possible influence of paganism.
Our business is with saints whose cultus is proved by a church erected in their honour,
by a regularly observed festival or by relics offered to the veneration of the faithful.
Such cases may come under three categories.
In the first place, it may happen that legends whose dependence upon pagan antiquity is
admitted to have been purely literary may end by giving birth to a cultus. In its origin
the History of the Seven Sleepers was a pious romance which, little by little, left the
sphere of literature to pass into the domain of liturgy.[] The heroes of this wholly
imaginative work end by being honoured as saints of whom the burial-place is shown, and
whose relics are in request. Similarly, Barlaam and Joasaph, the principal personages of a
Buddhist romance, eventually, after long delays, attained to similar honours. But their
artificially created cultus does not bury its roots in the distant past of Buddhism any
more than that of the Seven Sleepers is a continuation of a religious episode of the
polytheism of Greece.
 Acla SS., July, vol. vi., p. 376.
In the second place, a legend possessing pagan features may have for its subject an
authentic saint whose cultus dates from a period anterior to the legend and is quite
independent of it The problem suggested by these circumstances is not always easy to
solve. It may be that the fabulous element has become mingled with the history of the
saint merely in virtue of that inevitable law which connects legendary incidents totally
devoid of any special religious interest with the name of any illustrious personage. But
it is also possible that the  saint has inherited the attributes of some local deity
together with the honours paid to him. No point is more difficult to unravel in practice.
We must not indeed forget that a great number of practices and expressions and stories,
beyond doubt religious in their origin, and implying, if we press them, doctrines that
were clearly polytheistic, have by degrees wholly lost their original significance, and
have become either mere embellishments or conventional formulae devoid of objectionable
meaning. The graceful little genii that painters and sculptors love to set climbing among
the festoons and vine-branches are mere decorative motifs, just as the Dis Manibus
Sacrum was written quite guilelessly at the head of Christian inscriptions on tombs
without people seeing in the fact anything save the obligatory prelude to an epitaph.[]
 F. Becker, Die heidnische Weiheformel, D. M., Gera, 1881, pp.
Indeed the history of the saints supplies many examples that allow us to appreciate the
exact value of certain facts which at first sight would appear to be dependent on religion
and worship but which in reality are only connected with them by a very slender thread.
The Byzantines sometimes named stars after the saints whose feasts corresponded with
their rising. Thus the star of 26th October became the star of St Demetrius, that of 11th
November was named after St. Menas, that of the 14th was the star of St Philip.[] It is
difficult to see in these appellations anything further than the expression of a date, and
I should not like to assert that the Byzantines believed that the  saints ruled over
the stars or that they attributed to them in the firmament functions from which the gods
had been deposed.[] It seems to me clear that, putting aside certain superstitious
customs.[] they talked of the star of St. Nicholas just as we should speak of the
Michaelmas term. When sailors referred to the autumn equinoctial gales as the
"Cyprianic winds" the expression [] no doubt testified to the popularity of
St Cyprian, but in no way implied any practice of piety.
 Catalogus codicum astrologorum griecorum II.: Codices venetos
descripserunt, G. Kroll and A. Olivieri, Brussels, 1900, p. 214.
 Cumont, Catalogus, etc., vol. iv., 1903, p. 159.
 See above, p. 159.
 Procopius, Bell. Vand., i., 21; [Greek quotation] Cf. i., 20, Dindorf, pp.
Hence it does not follow because some characteristic belongs both to mythology and to
the legend of a saint that therefore the saint must be regarded as a deity in disguise. It
would scarcely be logical to raise doubts concerning the existence of St. George merely
because of his legend, and it is highly temerarious to affirm positively that in his
person " the Church has converted and baptised the pagan hero Perseus." []
When the origin of the shrines of St. George has become better known we shall perhaps be
enabled to replace him on the historical footing which hagiographers have done so much to
undermine. No one has, however, been able to prove hitherto that his cultus among
Christians was a mere prolongation of some pagan devotion. []
 E. S. Hartland, The Legend of Perseus, vol. iii., London,
1896, p. 38.
[5 In the 3d ed. these two sentences have been further developed and he draws upon his Légendes
grecques des saints militaires, pp. 45-50, and 75; the cultus of St. George is
perfectly localized at Lydda in Palestine, and the episode of the dragon, he pointedly
observes , does not enter into any of the ancient legends of St. George.]
The majority of the hagiographic legends that are adorned with mythological rags and
tatters appertain in all 'probability to saints who have nothing else in common with
pagan deities. Yet this is not a universal law. Certain very well-authenticated saints
have developed in certain shrines such special features that in the cultus paid to them it
is difficult to deny the survival of a pagan ritual or belief. Whatever may have been the
primitive history of SS. Cosmas and Damian they were represented at an early age as the
successors of the Dioscuri, and the honours paid to them at certain of their shrines
undoubtedly betray points of contact with pre-existing forms of worship.[]
[1 See Les recueils antiques de miracles des saints, p. 8-18. 3d
For a long time sailors also had their own special ways of honouring St. Nicholas[]I
and St. Phocas,[] and of attributing to them powers which remind one of the heroes of
antiquity. One might therefore describe these saints as the successors of Poseidon. No
doubt little by little the figures of the holy protectors took the place of the sea god,
but the phenomenon is due to accidental circumstances, and even when heir to a pagan god
the saint none the less preserves his individuality.[]
 The sailors of Aegina wish each other a good crossing in the
formula, "May St. Nicholas be seated at thy helm". E. Curtius, Die
Volksgrüsse der Neugriechen, in Sitzungsberichte der k. Preussischen Akademie, 1887,
 L. Radermacher, St. Phokas, in Archiv für Religionswissenschaft, vol. vii, 1904, p. 445-452.
 The scholarly author of Hagios Nikolaos, Leipzig, 1913-17, M. Anrich,
arrives at the same conclusion after a thorough examination of the question - vol. ii., p.
505. 3d ed.[
We have still to consider a third case, that of the legend which reveals purely and
simply the continuity of a religious tradition, to-day Christian, yesterday idolatrous and
superstitious. It is no longer a question of deciding, whether an authenticated saint has
assimilated some of the characteristics or even the general physiognomy of an earlier
deity; but of ascertaining by a careful study of all the narratives concerning the saint
 whether he himself is not a god or pagan hero raised to the altars after a decent
The distinctions we have sought to establish may seem to some over-subtle, but to
ourselves they appear indispensable unless we wish to be satisfied with superficial
resemblances and far-fetched comparisons. In order to realise the difficulties of
mythological investigations, based upon the analysis of legends of saints, it will suffice
to examine thoroughly one or two individual cases over which scholars have already
exercised their wits and to measure the results of a criticism as searching as it is
ingenious. We propose to restrict ourselves to the legends of St. Lucian[] and St.
Pelagia,[] and the interpretation which we shall suggest is very different from that
which has been current for some years past.
 H. Usener, Die Sintfluthsagen, Bonn, 1899, pp. 168-80.
 Id., Legenden der heiligen Pelagia, Bonn, 1879, xxiv., 62 pp.
St. Lucian is one of the most celebrated martyrs of the fourth century. He died at
Nicomedia, 7th January, 312, and his body was conveyed to Drepanum, a town on the coast of
Bithynia which was re-named Helenopolis by Constantine in honour of his mother. Nothing
could be better authenticated than the fact of of his martyrdom, nothing more firmly
established than his cultus, witnessed to by the basilica of Helenopolis as well as by
Among the principal testimonies to the history of St Lucian we have that of
Eusebius,[] a panegyric by St John Chrysostom,[] and a celebrated legend[]
incorporated in the menology of Metaphrastes, but dating undoubtedly from a much earlier
 Hist. Eccles., ix., 6.
 Migne, P. G., vol. L, pp. 519-26.
 Ibid., vol. cxiv., pp. 397-416.
 We need not stop here to discuss the life of St. Lucian[] in its general
features, but it is necessary to dwell upon certain details of the legends which have been
made use of in support of the theory which it is our intention to examine.
 The best work we possess on the Acts of St. Lucian is that of Pio
Franchi, Di un frammento di una Vita di Costantino, taken from Studi e documenti
di storia e diritto, vol. xviii., 1897, pp. 24-45.
In the first place, the author of the passion relates that the martyr suffered torture
by hunger for fourteen entire days: Tessares kai deka tas pasas hemeras.[].
After the first few days he announced to his disciples that he would celebrate with them
the Feast of the Theophany and would die on the following day. This prophecy came true: in
the presence of the emperor's representatives, filled with amazement at his prolonged
endurance, he repeated three times "I am a Christian," and expired.[]
 Passio S. Luciani, n. 12, Migne, P. G., vol. cxiv., p. 409.
 Ibid., n. 15.
Others affirm, writes the chronicler, that while still alive he was flung into the sea.
The Emperor Maximian, exasperated by his constancy, had commanded that he should be cast
into the waves with a heavy stone fastened to his arm, so that he should be deprived for
ever of the honours of Christian burial. And he remained in the sea fourteen days, the
precise number he had spent in prison; Tessares kai deka tas holas hemeras. On the
fifteenth day a dolphin is supposed to have brought his sacred body back to land, and to
have died immediately after depositing his precious burden.[]
 Ibid., n. 16.
No one can fail to recognise in this marvellous incident one of the most popular of all
legendary themes of classic antiquity. The dolphin, the friend of man,  who bears
him, living or dead, upon his back, is the subject of more than one poetic fable and of a
whole host of works of art.[] Melicertes, Hesiod, Arion-in this latter case also the
dolphin expired on the sandwere all popular types, and there is nothing surprising in the
fact that so poetic a legend should have passed into the realms of hagiography. The
dolphin further plays a part in the lives of St. Martinian,[] St. Callistratus,[]
St. Arianus[] and others. This circumstance alone is sufficient to prove that the
dolphin episode in the legend before us is purely adventitious and has only an accidental,
and in no sense a mysterious, connection with its history, even should we fail to
ascertain the precise circumstances under which St. Lucian came to be associated with this
reminiscence of a classical myth.
 O. Keller, Thiere des klassischen Alterthunts, Innsbruck,
1887, pp. 211-35 ;A. Marx, Griechische Märchen von dankbaren Tieren, Stuttgart,
1889, p. 1 ff.
 Acta SS., Feb., vol. ii., p. 670.
 Ibid., Sept., vol. vii., p. 192.
 Ibid., March, vol. i., p. 757; Synaxarium ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae,
p. 308. '
It has been suggested that dolphins may have been carved on the sarcophagus of the
martyr, and that this decorative design may of itself have sufficed to set popular
imagination working.[] This explanation combined with the mythical tradition which had
not been lost at that period and which the sight of the dolphins would recall, is not
lightly to be set aside. But it has the disadvantage of being a pure hypothesis suggested
by the necessities of the case. In point of fact we  possess no information
concerning the decoration of the sarcophagus of St. Lucian.
 P. Batiffol, Étude d'hagiographie arienne. La Passion de saint
Lucien d'Antioche, in Compte-rendu du Congrès scientifique international des
catholiques, Brussels, 1894, vol. ii., pp. 181-86.
A second explanation has been brought forward which possesses the merit of being at
least founded on fact.[] St. Lucian was martyred at Nicomedia, yet his basilica is
situated, not in that town, but across the gulf, at Helenopolis. The translation of the
sacred remains probably left no impression on popular memory, and later on the inhabitants
explained the anomaly by the familiar device of a miraculous intervention of which
tradition furnished them with so many examples.
 P. Franchi, op. cit., pp. 3943.
The presence of the dolphin in the Nicomedian legend has, however, suggested
conclusions of a far more radical nature to our school of mythologists.
Note, they say, the persistence with which the number 15 recurs in connection with the
name of St. Lucian. Putting aside, suggestive as it is, the fact that among the Greeks his
feast has been transferred to the 15th of October, let us study the legend itself. The
saint expired after fifteen days of suffering; the dolphin brought his body to shore on
the fifteenth day; he died the day after the Epiphany which was the 15th of the month of
Dionysius, and observe that at Helenopolis his feast is celebrated on the eve which is
precisely the 15th of the month of Tishri.[]
 In the Syriac Martyrology. See D,- Rossi-Duchesne, Martyrologium
Hieronyinianum in Acta SS., Nov., vol. ii., p. Iii.
And what meaning has the dolphin? It is one of the attributes of Dionysus. And why is
it connected with the memory of St. Lucian? Because his feast coincided with the feast of
Dionysus which was observed in Bithynia on the 15th of the month of Dionysius. Therefore
it was a pagan feast which the people  still remembered and which they associated
with this Christian commemoration. The dolphin of the legend of St. Lucian is a witness to
the affection of the new converts for their ancient superstitions.
Such is in brief the reasoning of these learned critics.
One would of course be bound to discuss these weighty conclusions, if in point of fact
we knew from other sources that the great solemnity in honour of Dionysus was really
celebrated on the 15th of the month, coinciding with 7th January, and also that a legend
of Dionysus, current in Bithynia, was one of the numerous replicas of the history of the
dolphin bringing to shore the body of Melicertes. But we know nothing of the kind. It is
to the legend of St. Lucian itself that we are referred for the evidence of these
 "Durch die legcnde des Lukianos wissen wir das die Bithynier
die -epiphanie des Dionysos am xv. des auf wintersormenwende folgenden monats Dionysios
feierten. Wir wissen daraus auch, unter welchen mythischen bilde die erscheinung des
gottes geschaut wurde. Als entseelter auf dem rucken eines gewaltigen delphin zurn lande
gebracht, das war das bild Bithynischer epiphanie." Usener, vol. cit., p. 178.
What can we think of this logical structure save that it is destitute of any sound
basis and that not only do we discern no sort of link between St. Lucian and Dionysus,
but, in studying the matter closely, we find that Dionysus disappears completely from the
scene, to leave us in the presence of one of the most ordinary phenomena of folk-lore in
all countries? It seems superfluous to insist on the feebleness ofthe argument-it should
rather be called the suggestion--drawn from the number 15, which itself has not even been
established beyond question. The Arian commentary on job, which would appear to contain an
echo of the same tradition  as the passion of St. Lucian, bears another figure: Hic
namque beatus duodecim diebus supra testas pollinas extensus, tertia decima die est
 "For this blessed saint after lying for twelve days upon a bed
of minute shells breathed his last upon the thirteenth day." Migne, P. G., vol.
xvii., p. 471.
Thus the legend of St. Lucian involves no sort of reflection upon the Christians of
Bithynia. It would justify no one in suspecting the purity of their faith or in attempting
to prove that they had more difficulty than other people in forgetting Dionysus. Moreover,
it remains to be proved that the great festival of the god really did coincide with the
day after the Christian Epiphany, the day of the martyrdom of St. Lucian. For, so far,
neither his own legend nor any historical text has furnished any proof of the assertion.
The legend of St. Pelagia has been the starting-point of a most laborious inquiry,
conducted on the same principles, of which the results, although accepted by many scholars
who have not felt bound to investigate them further, are certainly surprising. Its authors
profess to have discovered that the Church continued, though admittedly under a very
modified form, to pay homage to Aphrodite, to Venus, to the goddess of carnal pleasure and
Pelagia, known also as Margarito, was, owing to the splendour of her pearls and jewels,
one of the most celebrated as also one of the most corrupt of the dancing-girls of
Antioch. One day she entered the church while Bishop Nonnus was exhorting the faithful.
Touched by grace she begged for baptism, and when she quitted the white robe of the newly
baptised she donned a hair shirt and a man's tunic, and left Antioch in secret in order to
hide herself on Mount Olivet  outside Jerusalem. There she lived for three years in a
little cell under the name of Pelagius, after which she entered upon the reward of her
life of penance. The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 8th October.
Under this form, and taken by itself, the history of Pelagia offers no very improbable
features, and it would certainly not be easy to draw from it any conclusions favourable to
a mythological survival. But its critics compare it with other legends with which it
constitutes a whole, of which the pagan origin and character are according to them clearly
In the first place, on 8th October, a commemoration is made of another Pelagia of
Antioch, a virgin martyr, whose heroic death was related by St. John Chrysostom in a
panegyric preached in her honour.
The same day recalls the martyrdom of a third Pelagia, of Tarsus, who preferred death
by fire in a brazen bull to the love of the emperor's son. []
 The three legends are surnmarised in Synaxarium ecclesiae
Constantinopolilanae, pp. 117-20. The sources in Bibl. hag. graec., pp.
Pelagia of Tarsus reappears at Seleucia on 22nd August under the name of Anthusa, with
a history[] of which the incidents, if not the closing scenes, recall the preceding
 Published by H. Usener in the Analecta Bollandiana, vol.
Xii., pp. 10-41.
St. Marina of Antioch, in Pisidia, commemorated by the Greeks on 17th July,[] and
St. Margaret of Antioch by the Latins on 2oth July,[] suffered death like Pelagia of
Tarsus, for having scorned the advances of the judge, the prefect Olybrius.
 H. Usener, Acta Sancta, Marinae et Christophori, Bonn, 1886,
 The different versions of the Passion of St. Margaret, Bibl. hag. lat., 5303-10.
 It is easy to trace the connection of yet another group of saints with the
St. Margaret, commemorated on 8th October, flies from her nuptial chamber disguised as
a man. She hides herself in a monastery where she passes under the name of Pelagius.
Accused of having seduced a nu'n she suffers the penalty for a sin she could not have
committed. Her innocence is only established after her death. She receives the name of
 Acta SS., Oct., vol. iv., p. 24.
Maria, or Marina (12th Feb.), also enters a monastery disguised as a man. One day the
daughter of an innkeeper travelling in the neighbourhood accuses the supposed monk of
being the father of her baby. Marina is driven from the monastery and forced to maintain
the child. The severity of her penances re-open the doors of the cloister to her, but only
after her death is the discovery made that she has been the victim of calumny.[]
 Migne, P. G., vol. cxv., p. 348 ff.
St. Eugenia (24th Dec.) ruled as abbot over a monastery of monks. She also was falsely
accused by a woman before the tribunal of her father who was prefect of Egypt.[] It is
also in Egypt that we meet with a St. Apollinaria (5th Jan.) who hides herself under the
name of Dorothea, and suffers a similar misfortune.[] Euphrosyne of Alexandria (25th
Sept.) adopts the name of Smaragdos and lives peacefully in a community of monks until at
length she is recognised by her father.[]
 Ibid., vol. cxvi., p. 609 ff.
 Acta SS., Jan., vol. i., pp. 257-61.
 A. Boucherie, in Analecia Bollandiana, vol. ii., pp. 196-205.
Theodora of Alexandria (11th Sept.). convicted of infidelity, retires into a monastic
house for men in  order to do penance. She is denounced for misconduct and
rehabilitated after her death.[]
 K. Wessely, Die Vita S. Theodora, Vienna, 1889, pp. 25-44. We
refrain from mentioning Porphyria of Tarsus, who is not a saint, or Andronicus and
Athanasia who, in our opinion, burden M. Usener's list quite superfluously. He might,
however, have included in it St. Papula who lived with some monks of the diocese of Tours
and was placed by them at the head of their monastery. Gregory of Tours, In gloria
It is clear that all these legends are interconnected, as may be seen partly by the
similarity in the names: Pelagia, Marina, Pelagius or Margaret recalling the surname of
Margarito given to the courtesan of Antioch, and partly by the theme: a woman disguised as
a monk and keeping the secret of her sex until death. Sometimes the theme is complicated
by the further theme of calumny, which, under the circumstances, is only a logical
development of the main idea.
Before indicating the series of deductions by means of which folklorists have succeeded
in recognising Venus or Aphrodite in the person of St. Pelagia, let us try to determine
the starting-point of the whole series of legends which we have just summarised.
In the fourth century the Church of Antioch celebrated on 8th October the feast of a
St. Pelagia,[] a quite historical personage, concerning whom both St. John
Chrysostom[] and St Ambrose[] have furnished us with information. But her history in
no way resembles that of the penitent courtesan, and there is nothing in it to suggest
anything in the nature of masquerading. Pelagia is a maiden of fifteen who sees  her
father's house in the hands of the soldiery. To escape from their outrages she begs for a
delay, the time to array herself in her finest robes. And while the soldiers are waiting
below for their victim she flings herself from the roof and preserves her virginity by a
 Date furnished by the Syriac Martyrology, Acta SS., Nov.,
vol. ii., p. 1xi.
 Migne, P. G., vol. I., pp. 579-85.
 De virginibus, iii., 7, 33; Migne, P. L., vol. xvi., p. 229; Epist.
Xxvii., ad Simplicianum, 38; ibid., p. 1093.
Should we then admit the existence of a second St. Pelagia of Antioch, the penitent
sinner? The identity of dates, 8th October, gives food for reflection. An admirable
passage from St. John Chrysostom may profitably be recalled at this juncture.
In his sixty-seventh Homily on St. Matthew, the saintly doctor recalls the history of a
celebrated actress whose name he does not give, and who came to Antioch from one of the
most corrupt cities of Phoenicia, having become so notorious, thanks to her evil life,
that her fame had spread as far as Cilicia and Cappadocia. She brought ruin to a large
number of persons, and the very sister of the emperor fell a victim to her seductions.
Suddenly she resolved to reform her life, and, under the influence of grace, she wholly
renounced her evil ways. She was admitted to the sacred mysteries, and after her baptism
lived for long years in the strictest austerity, wearing a hair-shirt, and shutting
herself up in a voluntary prison, where she allowed no one to visit her.
Nothing justifies us in assuming that this anonymous penitent became after death the
object of an ecclesiastical cultus, indeed the way in which St. John Chrysostom speaks of
her seems to imply the contrary. But it may be taken as certain that the narrative known
under the name of Pelagia's Repentance Is neither more nor less than an adaptation of the
incident related by St. John Chrysostom. The editor, who  bestows on himself the name
of James, no doubt considered it too simple and therefore introduced into it the idea of
the disguise with which more than one tale would have made him familiar.
It is very difficult to decide whether the so-called James originally intended to write
an edifying romance in which a heroine named Pelagia should play the leading part, or
whether, by means of fresh data, he proposed to write the legend of the venerated saint of
Antioch. We know from illustrious examples both how quickly historical tradition
concerning local saintsmay disappear beneath the action of legendary compositions, and
also how little hagiographers hesitate in making alterations that render their subjects
almost unrecognisable. However this may be, whether or no in the mind of the so-called
James there was any identity between his heroine and St. Pelagia of Antioch, it was
inevitable that such identity should soon be assumed to exist.[]
 It must not be maintained that no confusion has existed, not can the
three saints bearing the name of Pelagia, and entered in the synaxaries for 8th October,
be produced in support of such a contention. The similarity of the date is in itself
sufficient to explain the error. The three notices referring to the three namesakes are
the outcome of a very ordinary proceeding among compilers of synaxaries. Whenever they met
with two traditions concerning one and the same saint which were not easy to reconcile,
they had no hesitation in resolving him into two distinct people.
The further legend of Pelagia of Tarsus in Cilicia appears to us to be the result of
the double tradition that surrounded the name of Pelagia. In certain aspects she recalls
the courtesan of Antioch, whose reputation, as we are expressly told by St. John
Chrysostom, had penetrated as far as Cilicia, and who had also had relations with the
imperial family. On the  other hand, Pelagia of Tarsus was a virgin, and in that, as
in her martyrdom, she recalls the primitive Pelagia whose cultus was established as early
as the fourth century.
The history of Pelagia in its double form proved highly successful and gave rise to an
amazing wealth of legendary lore of which other examples may be found in hagiographic
literature. The version by the self-styled James, at once the most interesting and the
most highly coloured, is that which has enjoyed the greatest popularity. The true
personality of the saint of Antioch, shadowy at the outset, soon disappeared entirely in
the interest taken in her legend. This latter lost by degrees every vestige of historic
fact; even the account of the conversion became eliminated and the purely legendary
residuum passed under various names, thus degenerating into the primitive form of a tale
strictly so called, thanks to which we have the saints Mary or Marina, Apollinaria,
Euphrosyne and Theodora, who are simply literary replicas of the Pelagia of the
self-styled James; or else, as in the case of St. Eugenia, the theme of a woman hiding her
sex was tacked on to other narratives having for their hero some historic personage.
We have dealt at length with this development, which we regard as a somewhat
commonplace phenomenon to be explained by the normal action of the legendary ferment If
there is any item of religious interest to be deduced from all this, it is the fact that a
traditional cultus may have the life crushed out of it by legend. But the cultus in this
instance was Christian, so too was the subsequent legend, although mingled with elements
drawn from the domain of general literature. Nowhere does a pagan influence make itself
 Such, however, as may be supposed, is not the interpretation accepted by those
who profess to identify Pelagia with Aphrodite.
After having glanced over the series of narratives of which we have given a summary,
the conclusion is arrived at that "this bird's-eye view must give rise, even in the
most prejudiced minds, to the conviction that one and the same divinity reappears in'the
multiple variety of these legends like a trunk despoiled of its branches; thus the image
that was profoundly impressed upon the soul of the people, though banished from its
temples, continued to draw from its secret roots sustenance for the new branches that were
shooting out on every side. . . . The Hellenism of the Imperial epoque contained but one
conception which could have produced all these legendary forms: that of Aphrodite. It was
necessary to tear from the hearts of the faithful the dangerous image which personified
carnal beauty; it was accepted as it was, but purified in the fire of repentance and
suffering in order to render it worthy of heaven." []
 Usener, Legenden der heiligen Pelagia, p. 20.
Clearly the point now is to prove that Aphrodite or Venus is indeed no other than the
heroine of our legends.
Nothing, it seems, is more simple. Aphrodite was the goddess of the sea, and she is
known under a profusion of titles which recall this quality: Aigaia, Epipontia,
Thalassaia, Pontia, Euploia, and finally Pelagia, of which Marina is merely a translation.
And this is the whole kernel of the demonstration; and as, in point of fact, nothing is
to be drawn from the dates of the festivals it is the whole of the [ 205] argument.[]
Is it needful to add that I consider it a weak one?
 The question of the date has been already discussed, p. 185.
If only the name of Pelagia had been a rare or unusual one among women, if it had been
less well known at Antioch, the common home of the various versions, or again, if the
title of Pelagia had been one of the popular epithets applied to Aphrodite, there might
have been some excuse for this loose reasoning. But only one solitary example[] of a
Venus Pelagia and two of a Venus Marina, both supplied by Horace,[] are to be
discovered, whereas there is every reason to believe that Pelagia was quite a common name
both at Antioch and elsewhere. []
 C. I. L., iii., 3066. Cf. Preller-Robert, Griechische
Mythologie,vol. i., 1894, pp. 364-65. Nothing on the subject among the Greek
poets, C. F. H. Bruchmann, Epitheta deorum quae apud poetas graecos leguntur, Leipzig, 1893, p. 68.
 See T. B. Carter, Epithela deorum quw apud poetas latinos leguntur, Leipzig,
1902, p. 102.
 C. I. G., 3369, 3956, 9497.
Doubtless we shall be excused from dwelling on other comparisons which are intended to
support the main contention. Thus Anthusa of Seleucia is compared with the
Aphrodite Anthera of Knossos; Porphyria of Tyre with the Venus Purpurina of
Rome; Margarita with the Venus Genitrix because Casar dedicated to her a cuirass
studded with pearls.[] What erudition wasted on a futile task!
 Usener, op. cit., pp. xxi-xxii.
We cannot however neglect a further consideration produced in support of the theory we
are combating, one that is really ingenious and intended to demonstrate an unequivocal
trace of the worship of Aphrodite under one of its most monstrous developments, in the
very heart of Christianity. Attention is specially  drawn in the Pelagian legends to
the contrast between pleasure and penance, between lust and chastity, and to the
ever-recurrent theme of sex-disguise. The object of this is to bring us back to the
goddess of Amathus in Cyprus, who could be regarded at will as Aphrodite or Aphroditos,
and who wore the dress of a woman with the beard of a man. In the sacrifices offered at
this shrine the men were dressed as women and the women as men.[] It was the worship of
the Hermaphrodite. The legend of Pelagia, it is suggested, has retained the imprint of
this; but the cultus continues formally within the Church; the bearded woman has been
raised to the altars. In Rome it is St. Galla; [] in Spain, St. Paula; [] and in
other places SS. Liberata, Wilgefortis, Kilmmernis, Ontkommer, etc .[]
 Usener, op. cit., p. xxiii.
 Acta SS., Oct., vol. iii., pp. 147-63.
 Ibid., Feb., vol. iii., p 174.
 Ibid., July, vol. v., pp. 50-70.
I have already pointed out that the incident of sex dissimulation is a most ordinary
theme in circulation in every literature; and as for the supposed replicas of the
Hermaphrodite, they could not have been more ill chosen. Can any one seriously bring
forward the case of Galla, whose history, told by St. Gregory, is of the most vulgar kind?
Physicians, in order to induce her to marry again, assured her that if she did not do so
she would grow a beard, and so it came to pass.[] Paula is an obscure saint of Avila
whose history is a repetition of that of Wilgefortis. This grotesque legend, however, is
very far from possessing the mysterious origin which some people are anxious to attribute
to it. It took its rise, as has already been shown, from the diffusion of the picture of
the Volto  Santo of Lucca, and is merely a coarse interpretation of an unusual
 St. Gregory, Dial., iv., p. 13
 See above, p. 110.
Mythological names - Other suspicious names - Iconographic
parallels - The Blessed Virgin - Saints on horseback.
In the preceding pages it has been made clear that saints' names play a certain rôle
in the researches of mythologists, and that not infrequently a real importance is
attributed to them in the question of pagan survivals. Thus we have been assured that
" the Greek nations of the continent, the Islands and Asia Minor turned with ardour
towards the ancient gods of the Hellenes, on whom they were content to bestow new and
often very transparent names: Pelagia, Marina, Porphyria, Tychon, Achilleios,
Mercurios," etc.[] It is easy to show that assumptions based merely upon the name
are, in the present instance, particularly misleading.
 Gelzer, Die Genesis der byzantinischen Themenverfassung, p.
From very remote times the Romans were in the habit of bestowing the names of Greek
divinities more especially upon slaves and newly enfranchised persons; later, the names of
Roman gods became equally popular. The Greeks conformed to the custom which became more
prevalent as polytheism died out. Hence the frequency with which one meets with the names
of gods and heroes such as Hermes, Mercurius, Apollo, Aphrodite, Pallas and Phoebus,[]
as well as with derivatives from mythological names, such as Apollonios,  Pegasios,
Dionysios, etc.[] Several of these are the names of quite authentic saints, and this
fact should suffice to show that, in a general way, a pagan name should not throw
suspicion on the saint who bears it. Certain names, moreover, are only mythological in
appearance. St. Venera, for example, whose name recalls that of Venus, is no other than St
Paraskeve, vendredi, in its Latin or Italian form.[]
 The sources are given by H. Meyersahm, Deorum nomina hominibus
imposita, Kiliae, 1891.
 H. Usener, Gotternamen, Bonn, 1896, p. 358 ff.
 A fact admitted by Wirth himself, Danae in den christlichen Legenden, Vienna, 1892, pp. 24-26.
This is not to say that in the calendar of saints we do not come across strange names
which may give rise to legitimate suspicions. In Corfu (Corcyra) honour is paid to an
obscure female saint named Corcyra, Kerkura, who plays a part in the legend of the
Apostles of Corcyra, Jason and Sosipater.[] It would be difficult not to believe that
this St. Corcyra stands in the same relation to the Island as Nauplius to Nauplia,[]
Romulus to Rome, Byzas to Byzantium, or Sardus to Sardinia,[] and that she is simply
the product of the brain of the hagiographer. A study of the Acts of SS. Jason and
Sosipater entirely confirms this impression.[]
 Acta SS., June, vol. v., pp. 4-7. Compare Synaxarium
ecclesiae. Constantinopolilanae, pp. 633-36.
 A. Boeckh, Encyklopaedie der philologischen Wissenschaften, 2nd ed.,
Leipzig, 1886, p. 560,
 "Sardus Hercule procreatus.... Sardiniam occupavit et ex suo vocabulo insulae
nomen dedit." Isidore, Etymol., xiv., 6, 39, Migne, P. L., vol. lxxxii., p.
519. Isidore's compilation is rich in analogous examples.
 Mustoxidi, Delle cose Corciresi, Corfu, 1848, pp. xi.-xx.
There is yet another class of names which may well excite distrust. I refer to those
which express a quality or function such as Therapon, Sosandros, Panteleemon and others.
It is almost always to saints with a  marked reputation as thaumaturgists that names
of this character are applied, nor is it always the result of chance. I am well aware that
people have denounced, and with reason, the mania for transforming into myths all
personages whose names correspond with the activity attributed to them. "It would be
quite easy," writes Boeckh, "considering that nearly all names in classical
times possessed a meaning, to explain the greater number of them by myths, and it would be
somewhat embarrassing to decide how the Greeks should have named their children in order
to guard them from the danger of losing their identity and seeing themselves reduced to a
state of myth. Sophroniscos, the father of Socrates, would fall under grave suspicion, for
it is Socrates who makes men wise, sophronas; his mother Phaenarete has in point of
fact been suspected by Buttmann, for Socrates is ho phainon ten areten."[]
 Boeckh, Encyklopaedie, p. 581.
The matter could not be expressed better. But, in the case before us, the existence of
the saints who appear to be the personification of attributes is frequently only
guaranteed by strange legends, and we know, moreover, that people are quick to bestow on
the saints they invoke, names in keeping with the rôle they are presumed to play.
St. Liberata, Ontkommer or Kummernis offers an example of this. The homage paid to her was
in reality addressed to Christ, as originally it was the crucifix of Lucca that people
venerated before the transformation wrought in accordance with the data of the legend. The
cultus of other saints of the same stamp may possibly have veiled a worship of a very
different character, difficult to specify and connected by mysterious links with some
pagan  superstition. Such an hypothesis cannot be wholly excluded, but it certainly
cannot be asserted as a general principle. It is, for instance, very improbable that it is
applicable to St Panteleemon whom Theodoret places among the most celebrated martyrs of
his day[] and who possessed many famous shrines in the time of Justinian .[]
[1 See our Origines dit culte des martyrs, p. 220. The 3d ed.
deletes the phrase about Theodoret placing St. Panteleemon among the most celebrated
martyrs of his day.]
 Acta SS., July, vol. vi., p. 398.
We cannot bring this chapter to a close without touching cursorily on a point which
will illustrate in some degree the ideas we have already developed. Just as, in the domain
of legend, certain scholars have been eager to mark the stages of a sort of Christian
metamorphosis having its starting-point in absolute paganism, so certain Christian
pictures and statues appear to them simply as the Christianised interpretation of an
idolatrous idea. In such a matter the danger of assuming the existence of a real
dependence from certain outward resemblances becomes particularly evident, the more so
because the arts afford after all only a narrow range of expression.
In point of fact it may be said that the few timid attempts in this direction that have
hitherto been undertaken have been remarkably unfortunate, and that, in almost every
instance, a simple confrontation with definite historical data has proved sufficient to
shatter all the conclusions drawn from the vague analogy between certain Christian
compositions and figures of admittedly pagan origin. Need we recall the extraordinary
pretension of a certain learned person to trace the type of the Virgin with the seven
swords, so popular in Catholic countries,back to the Assyrian goddess Istar?[] As it so
happens the genesis of this representation of Our Lady of Seven Dolours, as indeed of the
devotion  itself, is known in all its details, both the time and the place of its
origin having been accurately ascertained. We have evidence that it does not date back
farther than the sixteenth century, and that it comes from the Low Countries.[]
 H. Gaidoz, La Vierge aux Sept Glaives in Mélusine, vol.
vi., 1892, pp. 126-38.
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xii., pp. 333-52, [P. Soulier, La conférie de
Notre-Dame des Sept Douleurs dans les Flandres, Brussels, n.d., 11 pp.; A. Duclos, De eerste
eeuw van het broederschap der Zeven Weedorninen van Maria, Brussels, 1922, 142 pp.]
Another writer has professed to discover numerous analogies, indicative of a common
origin, between the worship of the Madonna and the worship of Astarte. He has even gone so
far as to recognise in those pictures of the Virgin to be seen in our churches adorned
with a long triangular embroidered robe a continuation of the sacred cone which
represented the Eastern divinity.[]
 See Mélusine, vol. iii., 1887, p. 503; also G. Rösch, Astarte-Maria
in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, vol. 1xi., 1888, pp. 265-99.
Again, an effort has been made to prove the descent of the Madonnas of the thirteenth
century from the type of Gallic mother-goddesses "through the medium of Gallo-Roman
types of a more skilful execution which already wear a virginal expression".[]
This channel of transmission is supposed to be found in statues representing goddesses in
the form of a woman nursing her child. Surely every one can see that such a group would
very easily suggest the mother of God, and that it is in no way surprising if here and
there our forefathers were deceived by the resemblance. But so far were they from needing
a model from which to represent the Blessed Virgin in that attitude, that this is
precisely the type of the most ancient Madonna known to us, that painted on a wall of the
catacomb of Priscilla.[]
 J. Baillet, Les Déesses-Mères d'Orléans, Orleans,
1904, p. 14.
 It is more surprising that arch2cologists of eminence should have allowed
themselves to be mistaken concerning the significance of an Egyptian stele representing
Isis with Horus at her breast. Gayet in Les monuments coptes du musée de Boulaq in
the Mémoires de la mission archéologique du Caire, vol. iii., pl. xc, p. 24 has
no hesitation in recognising it as the Blessed Virgin giving to the Holy Child, although
with the proviso "that this representation must belong to the earliest times of
Coptic evolution when the antique manner was still predominant". G. Ebers, Sinnbildliches, Die Koptische Kunst, etc., Leipzig, 1892, has also adopted the explanation. But M.
C. Schmidt had only to turn round the stone of which the reverse side had served for a
Christian epitaph to eliminate the stele from the series of Coptic monuments and restore
it to the worship of Isis and Horus. C. Schmidt, Ueber eine angebliche
altkoptische Madonna-Darstellung in the Zeitschrift fur aegyptische Sprache,
vol. xxxiii., 1895, pp. 58-62.
 From the fact that Horus is always represented on horseback, piercing a crocodile
with his lance, we must not rush to the conclusion that St. George, who is equally
represented on horseback, killing a dragon is identical with the Egyptian divinity.[]
Apart from the fact that the great majority of warrior-saints are represented on
horseback,[] and that the sight of an equestrian statue might suggest this iconographic
type, the legend of St. George, the dragon-slayer, a legend without sort of link with the
god Horus, would naturally induce Christian artists to confer upon the image of the saint
what has come to be its consecrated form. St. Menas with the two camels, his indispensable
companions, equally recalls Horus and his crocodiles. It may well be that Coptic sculptors
derived their inspiration from so widely spread a representation and in this way helped to
create the popular type of the great martyr. But it does not follow that he should
therefore be regarded as a pagan divinity, and made into a sort of  understudy to
Horus.] The classical origin of the type of St. Peter seated on a throne with the keys
in one hand- and the other raised in blessing is beyond dispute. But is St. Peter in
consequence to be ranked entirely with the personages represented in a similar
 Clermont-Ganneau, Horus et saint Georges in the Revue
Archéologique, N.S., vol. xxxii., 1876, pp. 196-204, 372-99, pl
 See J. Strzygowski, Der koptische Reiterheilige un Georg in Zeitschrift
für aegyptische Sprache, vol. xl., 1902.
 I. A. Wiedemann, Die Darstellungen auf den Eulogien des heiligen Menas in
the Actes du sixieme congrès des Orientalistes, vol. iv., Leiden, 1885, pp.
 H. Grisar, Analecta Romana, Rome, 1899, pp. 627-57.
CONCERNING CERTAIN HAGIOGRAPHIC HERESIES.
Direct relation established between the history of a saint and
his legend - Exaggerated confidence in hagiographers-
Ill-considered appeals to local tradition - Confusion between a probable and a truthful
narrative - Excessiv
importance attributed to the topographical element - Legend held in utter contempt.
To draw up a catalogue of the principal errors committed by hagiographers and critics
ever since the world has studied the lives of the saints would be indeed an onerous task.
There is no form of literature into which people rush so frequently without any sort of
preparation, and if it be true that goodwill is sufficient to give pleasure to the saints,
it is less true that nothing more is needed in order to praise them worthily, or to
appreciate at its true value the quality of the praise bestowed upon them. Hagiographers,
alas, have sinned greatly, and the only consolation left us is to believe that much will
be forgiven them.
But if it be futile to hope that we may draw them all back into the straight paths of
historical criticism, let us try at least to warn them against certain gross errors which
have become accredited among them, and which day by day render the misunderstandings
between history and poetry more serious, and the conflict between science and piety more
acute. These erroneous beliefs usually circulate in a nebulous condition. In  the
light of the principles which we have attempted to lay down, it should suffice in most
cases to reduce them to precise terms in order to expose their falsity forthwith.
The first and most widely spread error consists in not separating the saint from his
legend. A narrative will be accepted because it refers to a well-authenticated saint,
while the very existence of another saint will be held in doubt because the stories
concerning him are improbable or even ridiculous. It is one and the same principle which
may, according to the school that acts upon it, lead to either of these equally absurd
It will not take us long to demonstrate its falseness. The various divisions of our own
work go to show that the saints run a continual risk of being compromised by the
literature written in their honour, for the very reason that the people on the one hand
and the hagiographers on the other are much in earnest in singing their praises. Moreover
the documents concerning them are exposed to all the perils of transmission. Thus there is
no sort of immediate proportion between the legitimacy and popularity of the cultus of a
saint and the hist6rical value of the written documents which attest its existence. One
martyr whose cultus has never spread beyond the narrow walls of his basilica, may live for
us in authentic Acts of an incomparable beauty. Another, whose tomb attracts pilgrims from
the whole world, is only known to us from narratives whose interest is far inferior to
that of the Arabian Nights but whose historical value stands on much the same level.
Dare I say that the value of the Acts of the saints is in inverse ratio to the
celebrity of their cultus? As  a general proposition this perhaps would not be quite
accurate. But it cannot be denied that legend having been most active round the most
popular saints, historical tradition has been more difficult to preserve in much
frequented sanctuaries than elsewhere. And this is true of all great pilgrimage centres.
Except in certain quite special cases, we know nothing either of their origin or their
patrons save the most fabulous reports.
We are therefore fully justified in looking with suspicion upon the legend, while
retaining full confidence in the saint.
I will not go so far as to maintain that one should admit the existence of a saint
whatever his legend may be. It will be remembered that we have come across more than one
hagiographic narrative having reference to an imaginary personage, and yet bearing all the
appearance of an authentic document. Some other evidence is therefore needed in order to
establish the real existence of the object of the cultus. If it is a fact that, in the
course of centuries, every other trace of his career has become obliterated then we may
reasonably entertain doubts on the subject. When we affirm that a particular saint has
never existed we simply assert the fact that he is only known-to us by a legend of
insufficient authority to prove his existence.
A second very common error is to place an exaggerated confidence in the biographers of
the saints. People seem to transfer to these pious writers something of the respect due to
the saints themselves, and the oft-repeated phrase, "We read in the Lives of the
Saints," without any one taking the trouble to specify the biographer referred to,
shows clearly that people implicitly attribute the highest qualities of the historian to
every member of the fraternity.
 If one insists upon knowing upon what grounds so much faith is placed in the
author of the life of a saint, one is probably told that by his piety, his reputation or
the dignity of his office he was one of the remarkable men of his day. People forget to
add whether there is any reason for believing him to have been well-informed, and capable
of making the most of the sources he had at his command. And while the known writers are
accepted thus uncritically, the anonymous ones-and the great majority of legends bear no
name by which to authenticate them-are allowed to benefit by the reputation for science
and integrity which has been conferred on the whole corporation of hagiographers, a
reputation, as we have seen, wholly unmerited.
Need we dwell, at this juncture, on the injustice done to the saints themselves, by
quoting, as their authentic utterances, the words some obscure scribe has placed on their
lips after having evolved them laboriously from his own mediocre intelligence?
I shall be told that these remarks can only apply to readers wholly destitute of
critical sense or of literary pretensions. Not at all. What is true is that in more
scientific circles the same monstrous error is found under another name: it is the
confusion between authenticity and veracity. The first step is to prove that the Acts are
authentic, that, for instance, St. Eucherius is incontestably the author of the Passion of
the Martyrs of Agaunum, the second is to make use of the Passion as though it were a
document of the first value, and with it to encumber the history of the later
persecutions; and so on.
We shall not be wandering from our subject if we call attention to the further illusion
of those who profess  a sort of blind admiration for that highly respectable
collection known as the Acta Sanctorum and who have developed the unfortunate habit
of quoting it as though it were the Gospel. How frequently have we not read concerning
some strange miracle or some suspicious revelation for which the writer was anxious to
gain credence, this naive remark, "This fact is admitted by the Bollandists".
The uninstructed reader would of course assume that after having submitted the incident
to a minute examination, these "pitiless critics "-this is the consecrated
phraseology-have allowed themselves to be disarmed, and that, in the face of the evidence,
they have been unable to deny the correctness of the narrative, or to contest the
supernatural character of the event.
Need we point out that it would be paying too much honour to any group of men, however
learned, who merely apply methods that are known to and at the command of every one, to
attribute to them a decisive authority in questions of infinite delicacy and not easily
susceptible of hard and fast rulings? Neither Bollandus, nor Papebroch, nor any of their
successors have ever entertained any such pretensions. As a general rule they have
abstained from attempting to solve insoluble problems, holding it to be a sufficient task
to classify the hagiographic texts, to print them with scrupulous care, to make known with
all attainable exactitude, their origin, their sources, their style, and if possible to
pronounce upon the talent, the morality and the literary probity of their authors.
Should therefore some honest writer experience the desire of conciliating his public by
making it known that he has not neglected to turn over "the vast collection" -
the epithet is once more de rigueur - of the Acta  Sanctorum, I
must beg him at least not to make the editors responsible for all that it contains. Let
him content himself with a formula that can compromise no one, such as: " The account
of this incident has been published by the Bollandists". But to infer from this that
the Bollandists guarantee its authenticity is to draw an unwarrantable conclusion."
If the Bollandists," writes one of their number, "believed definitely in all the
miracles and all the revelations they publish, there could not be men of more robust
 Ch. de Smedt, Des devoirs des écrivains Catholiques, Brussels,
1886, p. 16. [This last sentence is deleted in the 3d ed.]
We now come to a third error which consists in setting the tradition of the church in
which a saint is specially honoured in opposition to the solid conclusions of scientific
Among those who make use of this argument are some who, without knowing it, confuse
apostolic tradition, the rule of faith for all Christians, with the popular tradition of
their particular church. Such persons should be sent back to their theology in order to
learn not to use the word "tradition" in an unqualified sense save in dogmatic
But without going to this extreme, a considerable number think themselves justified in
contesting the results of criticism by pleading respect for local traditions.
Unfortunately what it is usual to dignify with the title of the tradition of a particular
church, is merely the current version of the legend of the patron saint, and the form of
respect claimed on its behalf is to consider it straightway as a tradition of historical
value: an inadmissible pretension if it is hoped by these means to evade the necessity of
weighing the evidence. In order to do that it is essential to go back to the beginning.
 If the history of the saint, as officially accepted, belongs to one of the three
first categories of hagiographic texts enumerated in an earlier chapter, it may be
conceded that at least in its main outline local tradition is an historical tradition ; if
not, then it is no use quoting it at all. Historical tradition is that which goes back to
the event itself; popular tradition often arises several centuries later, and sometimes
even unceremoniously dislodges the most solidly established historical tradition.
History informs us that St. Procopius of Caesarea belonged to the priesthood. Legend,
as accepted throughout the East, transformed him at a later date into an officer, and soon
he was universally known under the title of Procopius dux.
Current tradition describes Pope Xystus as dying on the cross, and every one is
familiar with the verses on St. Laurence by Prudentius:-
Fore hoc sacerdos dixerat
Jam Xystus adfixus cruci.[]
 "'Twas this his bishop had foretold, Xystus when fastened to
the cross." Peristeph., ii., 21-22. [Instead of "current tradition"
("la tradition courante") the 3d ed. reads "Prudence fait mourir":
"Prudcntius has Pope Xystus . . ." Ed.]
Yet we know for a fact from a letter by St. Cyprian, who was not only a contemporary,
but a well-informed contemporary, that Xystus died by the sword .[]
 Epist. lxxx., Hartel, vol. iii., p. 840.
Concerning St. Agnes there were current, as early as the fourth century, the most
contradictory reports, every one of which would probably be disproved by history, if
unhappily history had not been wholly silent where she is concerned.[]
 Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, S. Agnese nella tradizione e nella
leggenda, p. 26.
The traditions of the various churches in France which claim apostolic descent only
date from the  period at which these legends, on which their pretensions are based,
first won acceptance. This period is, in most cases, quite easy to ascertain, and it is
simply arguing in a vicious circle to seek to authorise the legend by the tradition of
which it was itself the source.
And yet the argument is pressed: " Are you unaware," these writers say to us,
"of what took place in the churches in the fifth and sixth centuries when, in
response to the eagerness of the faithful to listen to the acts of the martyrs in
religious assemblies, the ancient and venerable narratives of an earlier period were
collected from all parts, and recorded in a more methodical and oratorical style? The new
editors, writing under the very eyes of the bishops, would certainly have abstained from
introducing into their narrative any important circumstances up to that time unknown to
the people." []
 [Dom Guérangerj Les actes des martyrs depuis l'origine de
1'église chrétienne jusqu'a nos temps, vol. i., Paris, 1856, p. xxxiv.
This manner of looking at the problem fails to correspond in any way with the actual
It is assumed, what has to be proved in every individual case, that the Passions of a
debased age were, in fact, derived directly from "ancient and venerable narratives of
an earlier century," whereas we know how rarely the hypothesis can be verified.
Further, it is assumed that the Acts of the Martyrs were very generally read aloud at
the liturgical Offices. We know that in the very great majority of churches such was not
the case, and consequently that we can count neither on the vigilance of the bishops nor
on the sensitive ears of the faithful for the maintenance of historical traditions
concerning the martyrs.
 Hence episcopal control over local hagiography and the devotion of the people to
a received version of the history of a saint constitute facts that require demonstration
and can in no sense be accepted as an hypothesis to be taken for granted.
In point of fact wherever we are in the position to trace the diverse phases of the
genesis of a legend, we are able to demonstrate in the clearest possible way the lack of
this double conservative influence. The case of St. Procopius which we have studied in
detail is sufficiently conclusive on this point. Could it be said that the priests and the
faithful of the diocese of Lyons kept jealous guard over the memory of the curé d'Ars if
they in any way countenanced a biographer who represented him as being, not at home in his
presbytery, but at the head of an army?
The hagiographic legends of antiquity belong incontestably to popular literature. Not
only do they bear no official hall-mark, but what we have been able to ascertain
concerning their origin and their development affords us no guarantee of their historical
value. The faithful found in them a means of edification and they required nothing
further. Even in our own day, how many people are quite satisfied with those deplorable
compilations known as the Petits Bollandistes or the Grande Vie des Saints in
which history holds but an inferior place, but of which the narratives serve as food for
A fourth error consists in accepting a hagiographic narrative as historical merely
because it contains no improbabilities.
I may say at once that mediaeval hagiographers intent on impressing their readers with
what was marvellous and extraordinary, have so encumbered  their passionaries with
fabulous tales, that the absence of any extravagant element of itself creates a favourable
impression. If people went no further than that we should have nothing to complain of.
But we must first examine in what form the document has come down to us. Many Passions
of martyrs have been transmitted to us in texts of varying lengths, some developed, others
obviously abridged or even cut down to a short lesson. Now the abridged texts frequently
make a more favourable impression than the originals, the developments which betray the
methods of the compiler having largely disappeared. One may compare, for example, the
short Passion of St. Theodotus with the longer version that has also been preserved.[]
On the evidence of the abbreviated version alone, one might perhaps pronounce a very
different judgment on the hagiographer and his work. It would be easy to apply a similar
test to many other abridged narratives of which the original is still in existence.
 Both have been published by M. Pio Franchi de' Cavalieri, I martirii
di S. Teodoto e di S. Ariadne in Studi e testi, vol. vi., pp. 85- 87, 61-84.
Unhappily the confusion between what is true and what is probable may frequently be
recognised even in the methods of that higher criticism by means of which students have
professed to disentangle the historical narrative concealed from our view beneath a
confused mass of legendary, lore. Supposing it to be true that all the improbabilities of
a narrative are interpolations: it will then suffice to exclude this extraneous element in
order to bring the document back to its primitive condition.
The process may appear somewhat naïve ; nevertheless it has been put into operation by
men who were  far from simple themselves. I will only quote, as an interesting
example, the case of a scholar like Lami who by making a judicious selection from the
fabulous legend of St. Minias, succeeded in compiling a reasonable history, but one that
was as little veracious as its predecessor.[]
 Sanctae ecclesiae Florentiaer monumenta, vol. i., Florence,
1758. This is how he expresses himself: "Eius actis insinceris et apocryphis fides
adhiberi ab homine cordato non potest; tentare nunc juvat an ea defaecare, et fabellis,
quibus scatent, purgare et ad verosimilem historiam redigere, mihi res ecclesiae
Florentinae inlustrare adgresso fortunate liceat". (p. 589).
If it is rare for historians ostensibly to indulge in practices of this kind, they
frequently apply the method in all unconsciousness. Thus they are guilty of doing so
whenever they make use of suspicious documents on the specious plea that they contain
" good parts ". Le Blant was guilty of the practice on a large scale when he was
hunting up" supplements to Ruinart ". If these "good parts" are
anything except portions of the original historical record which the compiler had before
him, they are of no possible use-as any one can see for rehabilitating the document.
A fifth error consists in classifying a document as historical merely because the
topographical element can be certified as correct.
This blunder has been committed hundreds of times, and it must be admitted that in many
instances the argument to be drawn from topographical precision is, at first sight,
beguiling. How often does it not occur that this is the one point capable of verification,
and if the document is found to ring true in this respect what more natural than to assume
the excellence of the whole?
And yet we may go very far astray by relying too  much on topographical tests! It
would be easy to quote many wholly psychological novels, the wanderings of whose heroes
through Paris could be traced without difficulty. When the world has forgotten that
Bourget wrote novels, we should be compelled, according to this theory, to accept his
stories as real history, and the problem as to whether or no David Copperfield is compiled
from autobiographical memoirs would be solved by the fact that all the herds journeys can
be verified on the map. All that scientific criticism may assume from a narrative
topographically correct, is that the author had familiarised himself with the places in
which his personages reside, which in most cases simply means that he wrote at Rome,
Alexandria or Constantinople, according to the special knowledge he may display, and that
he had seen the tomb or the basilica which he describes.
Bearing this in mind it is easy to appraise the value of certain archaeological
discoveries which have seemed to justify what had hitherto been regarded as somewhat
dubious acts of martyrs. It has become possible to prove that these Acts have been
written-a fact that is in no way surprising-in the vicinity of the sanctuaries whose
origins they were supposed to relate. But the authority of the narrative gains nothing
thereby, and after, as before, the "confirmation" supplied by the monuments, we
are free to assert that the whole legend had its birth in the imagination of a poet.
There was much excitement some years ago over a discovery which was held to have
rehabilitated the Acts of SS. John and Paul. This is how M. Le Blant []  describes
the circumstances: "Little reliance was placed on a text which was thought to be
founded in part on original documents but to have been corrupted by the introduction of
some wholly inadmissible details. Nevertheless the tradition of the martyrdom inflicted on
the two saints in their own house continued to survive. Indeed the precise spot where they
were executed was shown, and in the sixteenth century a marble slab was let into the
pavement towards the centre of the church, beating these words, Locus martyrii SS.
Ioannis et Pauli in adibus propriis. One of the Passionist fathers attached to this
church, the Rev. Dom Germano, whose intelligent initiative cannot be too highly praised,
was anxious to ascertain whether the conformation of the ground was in accordance with the
belief to which the inscription testified. He set about excavations and explored the soil
beneath the church, and almost at once he made the discovery, beneath the high altar, of
two rooms of a house, which from the materials out of which they were constructed as well
as from their interior decoration, undoubtedly belonged to the beginning of the fourth if
not to the end of the third century. Hence it is clear, as the Passio relates, that
the church was built on the site of an ancient house."
 Les perseculeurs et les martyrs, p. iii.. See also P. Allard, La maison des martyrs, Paris, 1895. Taken from the Correspondant, 39 pages.
It is useless to continue the quotation, for we have arrived at the one definite result
of these excavations. They have in no way solved the problem as to whether the
hagiographic text was founded on original documents in spite of its containing some 11
inadmissible details ". Since then proof has been forthcoming that the story of SS.
John and Paul does not depend on any historical source, but is merely an adaptation of the
 history of SS. Juventinus and Maximinus,[] and in spite of all the interest that
surrounds the "house of the martyrs" none of the difficulties of the legend have
been solved by it. Indeed the only solution to which no serious objection can be taken is
that the patrons of the title of Pammachius are the holy apostles John and Paul
transformed by legend at an early date into officers of Julian's court, after the pattern
of other similar transformations with which we are by this time familiar.
 P. Franchi de' Cavalieri, Nuove note agiografiche in Studi
e testi, vol. ix., Rome, 1902, pp. 55-65. See also Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxii.,
p. 488. [The sentence following - "Indeed familiar." - was deleted in the 3d ed. Ed.
We have now pointed out to the reader various vicious methods in order to put him on
his guard against over-confidence in hagiographic legends. We have been exclusively
occupied with the historical point of view, and it must be admitted that only too often
the history of the saints has been obscured by legend. But it would be a fresh error to
assume from this that the legends of the saints-I refer here to legends in general-are
unworthy of attention. A comparison will at once make my meaning clear.
Let us suppose that an artist and an archaeologist are both standing before a religious
picture, some great work by an Italian or Flemish master.
The artist would rave enthusiastically of the beauty of the conception, the skill in
the composition, the intensity of the expression, the depth of the religious feeling.
If the archa2ologist were one in whom the aesthetic sense is lacking, he would give
vent, before the masterpiece, to a series of criticisms, possibly accurate in themselves,
but which would have the effect of exasperating  his artist friend. Here we have a
fantastic landscape absolutely at variance with what we know of the physical features of
the country; there a style of architecture unheard of in that region, while the costumes
belong neither to the period nor to the people. His feelings would be outraged to see St.
Lawrence wearing a dalmatic when before the tribunal, and he might possibly ridicule that
charming scene in which St. Peter preaches from a pulpit in a Roman piazza while St. Mark
sits at his feet and takes down the sermon, dipping his pen in an inkstand respectfully
held for him by a kneeling disciple.
This is the sort of criticism which our archaeologist might pass upon Fra Angelico, Van
Eyck or Perugino. No doubt he would study with curiosity the robes worn by the holy women
at the tomb, the weapons of the soldiers escorting our Lord to Calvary, and the buildings
by the roadside, because he would recognise in them contemporary documents of the time of
the painter, and he would perhaps grow indignant with the art connoisseur, indifferent to
these antiquarian details, and wholly absorbed in that which constitutes the true value of
the work, the expression of the ideal.
Which of the two is the more just appraiser of this legend in line and colour, the
enthusiast who seeks to penetrate into the inspired soul of the artist, or the unfortunate
being who experiences precisely the same emotions before a great work of art as before a
case of antiquities in a museum?
I would not be so bold as to transfer this comparison in all its rigour to the two
camps that have grouped themselves round the hagiographic literature of the Middle Ages,
that of the simple readers and sincere  admirers, and that of the despisers of these
legends. It must be admitted that the pious chroniclers of the lives of the saints have
not, as a general rule, been as happy as the painters, and that they have produced few
master-pieces, few works even which, taken alone and judged on their own merits, would
have attracted any notice or held public attention.
And yet, who can deny that in spite of all the ignorance of technique and the
clumsiness of execution, there is exhaled, not indeed from each individual legend, but
from out the store-house of mediaeval lore, something of that mysterious and sublime
poetry which pervades the walls of our ancient cathedrals? Who will dispute the fact that
these legends give expression with unparalleled vigour to the beauty of Christian faith
and the ideal of sanctity?
Let us not forget that there is frequently a notable difference between what our worthy
hagiographers wished to say and what, in point of fact, they have succeeded in saying.
Their amplifications are often cold, the attitudes of their personages awkward and formal,
their situations forced. But the thought which inspires them is noble and elevating, and
their eyes are fixed on that perfect beauty of which pagan antiquity was wholly ignorant,
the beauty of the soul filled by the grace of God, while their very helplessness in
reproducing it in all its glory only aids us to esteem it the more.
For a long time the Golden Legend, which is so accurately representative of the
hagiographic labours of the Middle Ages, was treated with supreme disdain, and scholars
showed no mercy towards the worthy James de Voragine. "The man who wrote the 
Legend," declared Louis Vivès, "had a mouth of iron and a heart of lead."
It would in fact be hard to speak of it too severely if it were conceded that popular
works are to be judged according to the standards of historical criticism. But people are
beginning to realise that this is an injudicious method, and those who have penetrated
into the spirit of the Golden Legend are very far from referring to it in scornful
 Analecta Bollandiana, vol. xxiii., p. 325.
I confess that, when reading it, it is somewhat difficult at times to refrain from a
smile. But it is a sympathetic and tolerant smile and in no way disturbs the religious
emotion excited by the picture of the virtues and heroic actions of the saints.
In this picture God's friends are represented for us as what is greatest on earth; they
are human creatures lifted up above matter and above the miseries of our little world.
Kings and princes honour and consult them, mingling with the people in order to kiss their
relics and implore their protection. They live, even here on earth, in God's intimacy, and
God bestows upon them, with His consolations, something also of His power; but they only
make use of it for the good of mankind, and it is to them that men have recourse in order
to be delivered from sufferings both of body and soul. The saints practise all the virtues
in a superhuman degree; gentleness, mercy, the forgiveness of injuries, mortification,
renunciation, and they render these virtues lovable, and they urge Christians to practise
them. Their life is, in truth, the concrete realisation of the spirit of the Gospel, and
from the very fact that it brings home to us this sublime ideal, legend, like all poetry,
can claim a higher degree of truth than history itself []
 In a letter to Count John Potocki Joseph de Maistre quotes, with
comments of his own, an example of what he calls "Christian mythology". We
cannot do better in order to elucidate our own thought than cite this eloquent passage:
"Listen and I will give you one of these examples. It is taken from some ascetical
work the title of which I forget. A saint, whose name I have also forgotten, had a vision
in which lie saw Satan standing before the throne of God. And listening, he heard the evil
one say: 'Why hast Thou damned me, I who only offended against Thee once, whereas Thou
hast saved thousands of men who have offended against Thee many times?' And God replied,
'Hast thou asked for pardon even once?' Such is Christian mythology! It is dramatic truth
which preserves its value and its effect quite independently of literal truth, and would
indeed gain nothing by it. What does it matter whether the saint in question did or did
not hear the sublime words I have quoted? The great point is to know that forgiveness
is only refused to hint who has not begged for it." See Count Joseph de Maistre, Lettres
et Opuscules inédits, vol. i., Paris, 1851, pp. 235-36.
ABBACIRUS (Greek: Abba kuros), 49
Abercius, St., inscription of, 85.
Accounts of eye-witnesses, 112-13.
Achatius, Passion of 120.
Acta Petri, 52.
Acta Sanctorum, 218, 219.
Acta Sincera, 115-24.
Adam, footprints of, 43.
Adar, King, 43
Aemilianus, judge, 79.
Aeneas, 164, 165.
AEsculapius, 152, 154.
African Church, 73
Agape and Chionia, Passion of, 120.
Agatha, St., Acts of, 123.
Agathangelus, St., 95, 96.
Agnes, St, 85, 104, 110, 118, 123, 221.
Alban, St., of Verulam, 79
Albanus, St, 63.
Aldegonde, St., 25, 101.
Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem, 117
Alexander of Cologne, 90o.
Alexander the Great, 17, 18, 20, 24
Alexander's Oak, 40
Alexander Severus, 22.
Alexandrinus, St., 117
Alexis, St., 103.
Aliscans, romance of, 105.
Ambrose. St, 34, 118, 200
Ambrose, St, of CahoOrs, 33
Amis and Amile, 109
Andreas and companions, Passion of, 120.
Angelo, St., 72.
Anthusa. See Pelagia of Tarsus.
Antonina, St., 86, 87.
Antony, St., of Padua, 34
Anulinus, pro-consul, 24.
Aphrodite. See Venus.
Aphrodite, Anthera, 205.
Apollinaria, St., 199, 203.
Apollonius, 117, 118, 207
Apostolic descent of French churches, 55, 220, 221.
Aquileia, siege of, 27
Arabian Nights, 9, 29, 215.
Archelaus, 132, 133
Ariadne, St, 34
Arianus, St., 194
Aristides, apology of, 94
Aristotle, 131, Arnold, St., of Metz, 102.
Asterius, St, of Amasea, 75, 118
Astorius and companions, acts of, 121.
Athalie, by Racine, 5.
Athanasiu3, St, 72.
Augustine, St., 48, 73, 118.
Augustus Caesar, 34
Austremonius, St., 20
Azazai, St., 103.
BABYLAS, martyr, 8o, 169, 173.
Balaam's ass, 53.
Barbara, St-, 34, 103, 111.
Barlaam, St., 118, 133, 143.
Barlaam and Joasaph, SS., 3, 63, 94, 114, 188.
Barnabas, St., 106.
Basil, St., 118.
Basil of Ancyra, 118.
Bavon, St, 101
Bees, Legend of the, 34.
Beleth, John, 20.
Benno, St., of Meissen, 34.
Bernard, St., 89.
Bertulph, St., 29.
Birds coming to life on spit, 50.
'Birds of prey, protective, 29.
Blessed Virgin, 43
Bollandists, 218, 219.
Bollandistes, Petits, 222.
Bona Memoria, misreadings of, 83.
Boniface of Tarsus, 62.
Bourget, Paul, 225.
Byzantine artists, 76.
Byzantium, siege of, 27.
CAESAR, 18, 24.
Caesar Gallus, 169.
Caesarius of Heisterbach, 90.
Caesarea, Bishop of, See Eusebius.
Callistratus, St., 194.
Caprasius, St., 102.
CaracalIa, Emperor, 79.
Carthage, siege of, 27
Carved figures, wrong interpretation of, 45
Casilinum, siege of, 27
Cassian, St., 104.
Cassianus Tingitanus, 119.
Cassiodorus, martyr, 209.
Cassiodorus, Senator and Dominata, SS, 71.
Castissima, St, 102.
Castor, St., 183.
Castor and Pollux, 182, 184.
Castulus, St., 183.
Cataldus, St-, 53-
Catherine, St., of Alexandria, 57, 71, 111.
Cecilia, St., Acts of, 123.
Cephalophorous (or head-bearing) Saints, 46, 81.
Chanson de gesle of Amis and Amile, 209.
Charlemagne, 18, 20, 54.
Christianisation of Pagan shrines, 170-72.
Christian legends derived from Paganism, 186-92.
Cimon, son of Miltiades, 162.
Clare, St., 48.
Claudius, Emperor, 150.
Claudius, St., Acts of, 121.
Clement of Ancyra and Agathangelus, SS., Passion of. 95-97.
Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, 4.
Clothair, King, 50.
Cloud, St., 48.
Commodus, Emperor, 78.
Conrad, author of Exordium, 90.
Constantine, Emperor, 1, 24, 32, 192.
Constantine, Emperor, vision of, 137- --
Corcyra, St., 208.
Cornelius, St., 43.
Cosmas and Damian, SS., 87, 123, 152, 154, 173, 191.
Costos, father of St. Catherine, 57.
Crucifixes, miraculous, 30-31; and see Volto Santo.
Curé d 'Ars, 222.
Cyprian, St., of Antioch, 20, 63.
Cyprian, St., of Carthage, 20, 24, 95, 108, 190, 221.
Cyprian, life of, by Deacon Ponus, 113.
Cyprianic winds, 190.
Cyricus and Julitta, 119.
Cyril, St., 169.
Cyril, St., of Gortina, 32.
Cyrillus, Acts of, 121.
Cyrillus and companions, 118.
Cyrus and John, SS., 48, 49, 152, 169, 173.
DAMASUS, Pope, 2, 74, 104.
Daphne, fable of, 34.
Dativus and companions, Passion of, 120.
David, King, 42.
David Copperfield, 22.5.
Deae MatreS, 211.
Decius, Emperor, 20, 22, 23, 35
Demetrius, St., 145, 172, 189.
Denis, St., translation of, 106.
Derelict vessels, relics on, 51
Didymus and Theodora, Acts of, 119.
Digna et merita, misreadings of, 84.
Diocletian, Emperor, 22, 23, 24, 35, 125, 134, 139, 143, 145
Dionysius, month of, 195.
Dionysius, St., 117
Dionysus, Epiphany of, 185.
Dionysus, feast of, 195-97.
Dioscorus, St., 183.
Dioscuri, the, 173, 182, 183, 191.
Dis Manibus Sacrum, 189.
Distortion of Truth, 12-14
Dolphins, part played by, 193-96.
Domnina, St., 118.
Donatianus and Rogatianus, 120.
Donatus, St., 175.
Dorothea. See Apollinaria.
Dorotheus of Tyre, 55.
Drifting relics, 30-32, 51-52.
Drosis, St., 118.
Duplication of Saints, 80-81, 140, 201-03.
Dymphna, St., 9, 105,157.
EAGLES in hagiographic legend, 29.
Eleutherius, St, mosaics of, 82.
Elias, St-, 173-74-
Elizabeth, St., of Hungary, 29, 90.
Elizabeth, St., of Portugal, 29.
Emerita, St., 84.
Emeterius and Chelidonius, SS., 91.
Emmerammus, St., arrival of, at Ratisbonne, 31.
Enfances Vivien, romance of, 205.
Ephysius, St., of Cagliari, 142-43,146.
Epipodius and Alexander, Acts of, 121.
Erminus, St., 101.
Eucherius, St., 217.
Eugenia, St., 199, 203.
Eulalia, St, 104, 118.
Euphemia, St, 75.
Euphrosyne, St., 102.
Euphrosyne of Alexandria (or Smaragdos), 199.
Euplus, Passion of, 120.
Eusebia, abbess, inscription of, 46.
Eusebius, 1, 117, 119, 126, 128, 133, 134, 140, 141, 144, 145, 192.
Eusebius, St., and companions, 118.
Eustace, St., 28.
Eutychius, martyr, 104, 155
Exaggerations of popular mind, 53-
Expeditus, St-, 48.
FABLE, definition of, 3.
Fasciola, Titulus de, 47.
Faust, legend of, 63.
Faustus and Januarius, Acts of, 121.
Felicitas and Seven Sons, 119.
Felix, St., 118, 120.
Felix and Adauctus, SS., 84.
Flavianus, judge, 130-33, 137, 144, 145.
Florian, St., 29, 103.
Florentius and Julianus, SS., 102
Florentius, St., of Mont Glonne, 103
Flores and Blanchefieur, romance, 29, 109.
Florus and Laurus, SS., 183, 184.
Forgeries, 105-6, 114-15.
Fortunata, St., martyrdom of, 67.
Forty Martyrs, 118.
Fra Angelico, 228.
Francis Xavier, St., 30.
Frodoberta, St., 43.
Fronto, St., of Pdrigueux, 99.
Fructuosus, St., 79, 119.
Fursey, St., Abbot, 25, 52.
Gallienus, Emperor, 24.
Gallus, St., 101.
Genesius Arelatensis, Acts of, 121.
Genesius, the comedian, 119.
Geneviave de Brabant, 9.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, 79.
George, St., 42, 71, 145, 172, 190, 210.
George, St., Bishop of Suelli, 34
Germano Dom, 226.
Gervase and Protase, SS., 183.
Golden Legend, 77, 229-30.
Gregory the Great, Pope, 63, 108
Gregory of Nyssa, 72, 75, 118.
Gregory of Tours, 77, 101, 154, 157, 158, 170, 177, 180, 206.
Gregory Thaumaturgus, St., 179.
HADRIAN, Emperor, 139.
Hagiographer, definition of, 60-61.
Hagiographer, as historian, 67-69.
Hagiographers, exaggerated confidence in, 216-19.
Hagiopographic document, definintion of, 1-2.
Hagiographic fiction, dangers of, 64.
Hagiographic forgeries, 205-6, 114-15
Harnack, 115, 116.
Helena, St., 184.
Herbert,biographer of St. Bernard, 90.
Hercules, statue of, 30.
Hermes Trismegistus, 131
Herodotus, 34, 119
Hero-worship among the Greek, 161-67.
Hervatus, St., 34.
Hieronymian Martyrology, 82, 128, 144.
Hilary, St., of Poitiers, 62, 171, 173, 179.
Hippolytus, St., 75, 117.
Historical romances, 114.
History, how written in the Middle Ages, 65-66.
Holy Land, early pilgrimages to, 41,42.
Homer, 127, 131.
Honoratus, St., of Buzengais, 29.
Horace, house of, at Venusium, 41.
Hubert, St., 28, 102.
IGNATIUS, St., of Antioch, 54,
Ignatius, St., of Loyola, 100.
Iliad, the, 55
Images, immersion of, 151.
Imaginative romances, 115.
Imaginary saints as objects of devotion, 64.
Incubation, rite of, 152-56.
India, cradle of tales, 7
India, epic poets of, 9.
Infancy, prodigies of saints in, 52.
Inscriptions, erroneous interpretations of 84-87
Interpolated Acts, 122.
Interrogatories, authentic, 212.
Interrogatory of martyrs, how fabricated, 93-95.
Irenaeus, St., 117, 120
Irene and Cyrimna, SS., 103.
Isaac, St., 34
Isquirinus, Prefect of Périguex., 21.
JACOB, Bishop ofJerusalem, 117
Jacob and Marianus, 119.
James, St., arrival of in Spain, 31
James, St., of the Marches, 34
James, self-styled, 202, 203.
Januarius, St, 42.
Jason and Sosipater, SS., 208.
Javols, Bishop of, 170, 179.
Jerome, St., 35.
Job, Arian commentary on, 196, 197.
John, St., the Baptist, 52, 71.
John, St., Chrysoatom, 116, 118, 192, 200-2.
John, St., Colombini, 100.
John, St., martyr, 144, 146, 147.
John, monk, 64.
John and Paul, SS., 225-27
Joseph, St., of Arimathea, 106.
Judas's thirty pieces of silver, legend of, 37.
Judas Thomas, St-, 183.
Julian, Emperor, 169, 227.
Julian, St., 46, 52.
Julian, St., the Hospitaller, 63.
Julianus, St., 118.
Julicus, officer, 118.
Julitta, St., 118.
Julius, Passion of, 121.
Junianus, St., 50.
Jupiter Capitolinus, 177.
Juvenalis, St., 143
Juventinus and Maximinus, SS., 118, 227.
KENTIGERN, St., 33.
Kilmmernis, St., 206, 209.
LAMBERT, St., 102.
Landoald, St, 50.
Laurentius, St., 117, 118.
Lawrence, St., 21, 24, 104, 108, 110, 154, 220, 228.
Leaena, courtesan, 35.
Le Blant, 47, 121-24, 224-26.
Legenda Aurea, 10.
Legend, definition of, 4, 8-10.
Legendary themes, transmission of, 26-30.
Leo and Paregorius, 120.
Leobardus, St., 101.
Leonidas, St., and companions, 117.
Leontius, Bishop, 136, 144.
Liberata, St. (or Uncumber), 46, 109, 206, 209.
Liberius, St., 52.
Licence in mediaeval writers, 88, 89.
Louis, St., visit to Calabria, 20.
Lubentius, St., arrival at Dietkirchen, 31.
Lucca. See Volto Santo.
Lucian, St., 104, 192-97.
Lucianus, St., 11:8.
Lucianus and Marianus, 120.
Ludwin, St., 50,51.
Lyons, martyrs of, 118.
MACEDONIUS, St., and companions, 128.
Madonna, worship of, 211.
Magloire, St., 33.
Malchus and Alexander, SS., 117.
Malta, sprin festival at, 179.
Mamas, St. 152, 117.
Mamertine prison, 42.
Mar Benjamin, 103.
Marciana, St., Acts of, 80.
Marcianus and Nicander, Passion of, 121.
Marcus Aurelius, 22.
Margaret, St., 71.
Margaret, SL, of Antioch, 198-200.
Margarito. See Pelagia.
Marianus Scotus, Blessed, 50.
Marina, St., of Antioch, 198-200, 203, 204.
Mark, St., 228.
Mark, St., of Arethusa, 104.
Mark's Day, St., litanies of, 180.
Mark, goldsmith, 135.
Mark and Marcellianus, SS., 183.
Mar Mikha, 103.
Martial, St., 55.
Martin, St., 19, 24, 42, 101, 1058 178.
Martin, St., duplication of, 82.
Martin, St., Pope, 68.
Martin, St., tomb of, 102.
Martina, St., 102, 110.
Martinian, St., 194.
Martinianus, St., 62.
Martius and Quintianus, 101.
Martyrs of Agaunum, 120, 217.
Martyrs of Egypt, 121.
Martyrs of Palestine, 1, 113, 119.
Martyrs, Persian, 118.
Martyrs, twenty African, 118.
Martyrology, Hieronymian, 82, 128, 144
Mary, the Blessed Virgin, 43.
Mary, reputed girdle of, 31.
Mary, Dolours of, 210.
Maternus, St., arrival at Rodenkirchen, 31
Maurilius, St, 33.
Maurus, St., 59, 206.
Maxentius, Emperor, 57.
Maximian, Emperor, 24, 144,.193.
Maximus, St., 117
Maximus and Crispina, Passion of, 120.
Medard, St, 29.
Meinulf, St., 28.
Menhirs at Carnac, 43
Melicertes, 194, 196.
Menas, St., of Egypt, 32, 77, 145, 153, 154, 189, 210.
Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus, SS., 72.
Menologies of Greek Church, 6o.
Mercurius, St., 145, 207.
Metaphrastes, collection of, 88, 113, 138, 192.
Metrical Lives of Saints, 107.
Midas, King, 27.
Minias, St., 224
Miraculous element in legend, 50, 51.
Montanus and Lucius, Passion of, 120.
Moses, 42, 43.
Mother Goddesses, 211.
Myth, definition of, 5.
Myth, hagiographic, 6.
NAMES, transformation of, 49.
Neamas, 134-37, 144
Nero, Emperor, 22, 24, 55
Nicephorus, martyr, 59, 115.
Niccphorus Callistus, 35.
Nicetas, martyr, 35,
Nicholas, St., 46, 190, 191.
Normus, Bishop, 197.
Numerian, Emperor, 23.
ODO of Glanleuil, 106.
Oedipus, 63, 163.
Ogier the Dane, iog.
Olive, St., 105.
Olybrius, Prefect, 198.
Onesimus, St., 103.
Ontkommcr, St. See Liberata.
Ouen, St., 23, 34, 48.
Oulcion, governor, 135-37, 143, 144, 146.
PALLADIUM of Troy, 33
Pancratius, St, 103.
Panteleemon, 208, 210.
Papebroch, Father, 218.
Paralytic and the dumb woman, legend of the, 153-54.
Paraskeve, St., 174-75, 208.
Passera Santa, 48, 49
Passio Bonifati, 119.
Passio Cypriani, 112.
Passio Nicephori, 62, 119.
Patricius, Bishop of Prusa, 121.
Patrick, St., 19, 42.
Patroclus, St., 102.
Paul, St.: 52- 55, 87, 134, 137
Paul, St. life of, 35.
Paul, Acts of, 4.
Paula, St., 206.
Paulinus, St., of Nola, 118.
Pausanias, 30, 174, 175
Pedena, Bishopric of, 32.
Pelagia, St., 118, 185, 192, 197-206, 207.
Pelagia, St., of Antioch, 198, 201, 202.
Pelagia, St., of Tarsus, 198, 202-3.
Pelagius. See Margaret.
Perpetua and Felicitas, SS., Acts of, 24, 128.
Peter, St, 42, 47, 55, 177, 211, 228.
Peter, St., statue of, 151, 157.
Peter and Paul, SS., 84.
Peter the Deacon, 106.
Petrus Balsamus, 119.
Petrus, Passion of, 120.
Phidias and Praxiteles, 45
Phileas and Philoromus, Passion of, 121.
Philip, St., apostle, 189.
Philippus, Passion of, 121.
Philomena, St., 86.
Phocas, St., 118, 191.
Pionius, Passion of, 120.
Placidus, St., 72, 106.
Plagiarism, 88, 102-104.
Plato, 34, 131.
Plutarch, 40, 163.
Pollio, Passion of, 120.
Polycarp, St., 128.
Polycarp, Acts of, 24, 137
Polycrates, Ring of. 33.
Polyeuctes, St., 183.
Popular intelligence, Characteristics of, 40.
Porphyria of Tyre, 205, 207.
Potamizena, St., 118.
Prato, Girdle of BVM. St, 31.
Praxedes, St, 49.
Priscilla, catacomb of, 211.
Priscus, St., 117.
Proconsular acts, 111, 112.
Procopius, St., martyr, 119, 126-146, 220, 222.
Procopius, St., legends as related by Eusebius, 126-28.
Procopius, St., first legend, 130-34, 142-
Procopius, St., second legend, 130, 134-38,142, 145.
Procopius, St., third legend, 130, 138-40.
Procopius, St., duplication of, 141-43.
Prudentius, 75, 91, 226, 117, 220.
Ptolemaeus and Lucius, SS., 117.
Puns in hagiography, 48.
Purification, feast of, 181.
Quirinus, Passion of, 121.
Quirinus and Cassianus, SS., 218.
RELICS of the past, 76.
Remaclus, St., 102.
Redemptus, Bishop of Ferentino, 155-56.
Rieul, St., 34.
Rock opening by miracle, 34.
Roman Legendarium, 73,114.
Roman martyrs, cycle of legends of, 39.
Romance, definition of, 3, 4.
Romanus, St., 117.
Rome, siege of, by Gauls, 27.
Romeo and Juliet, palace of, 43.
Rosanna, St, 109.
Rossi, De, 86.
Ruinart, Dom, 115-24, 224
Rumwold, St., 52.
SABAS GOTHUS, Passion of, 121.
Saints identified with our Lord's life, 54
Saints, illustrious birth of, 54.
Saladin, legend of, 54
Salonae, Siege of, 27.
Sanctus, mediaeval use of term, 83, 108.
San Salvador, church of, at Valencia, 30.
Santa Maria del Grao, Valencia, 30
Saturninus, Passion of. 120.
Savinus, St, 58
Schiller, ballad of Fridolin, 44
Scillitan martyrs, 78, 87, 112, 1113, 118.
Sebald, St., 50.
Sebastian, St., 210.
Secundianus, Marcellianus and Veranus, SS., 102.
Segnorina, St., 34
Serenus, Acts of, 121.
Sergius and Bacchus, SS., 28.
Servatius, St., 29.
Seven Sleepers, legend of, 36, 58, 188.
Severus, Emperor, 79
Sicily, miraculous crucifixes in, 31
Simon Magus, 42, 52.
Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, 117
Sisinnius and companions, 118.
Socrates, 118, 131, 209.
Solomon, eagle summoned by, 29
Soteris, St., 117
Sozomen, 35, iz8.
Staff, standing erect, 50.
Stanislaus, St., of Cracow, 29.
Stars named after saints, 189-90.
Stephen, St., 21, 73
Stephen of Lusignan, 57, 58
Sulpicius Severus, 61, 101.
Sunbeam, hanging cloak on, 50
Supplement to Acta Sincera, 122-24
Symphorian, St., 102.
Synaxaries of Greek Church, 75.
Syrus, St., of Pavia, 54.
Tale, definition of, 4, 6-8.
Tarachus and Probus, 120.
Tatiana, St., 102.
Thasos, siege of, 27.
Thecla, St, 4, 34
Theoctista, St., 88.
Theodora of Alexandria, 199, 203.
Theodora and Didymus, SS., 118.
Theodore, St., 1, 71, 75, 77, 145
Theodore, St., duplication of, 81.
Theodore, St., Siceotes, 32.
Theodoret, 108, 128, 167, 210.
Theodorus, martyr, 118.
Theodorus, confessor, 118.
Theodosia, 134, 139,141, 142,146.
Theodotus, St., 71
Theodotus, Passion of, 223
Theodotus of Ancyra, 119.
Theodulus the Stylite, 62.
Theophilus of Alexandria, x169.
Therapon, St., legend of tree of, 44.
Theseus, translation of remains, 162.
Thierry, or Theodoric, d'Apoldia. 68,90.
Tiberius, Emperor, 18, 45
Tillemont, 122, 153
Timothy of-Alexandria, 153
Timycha, Pythagorean, 35.
Topographical element in legend, 224-25.
Torture ofmartyrs, how fabricated, 95-97
Toulouse, Count of, 158
Tradition, meaning of, 219-21.
Tradition, oral, 74, 75
Tradition, pictorial, 75, 76.
Tradition, written, 72-74.
Trypho and Respicius, Acts of, 121.
ULPHUS, St.; 34
Uncumber, St. See Liberata.
Urban, St., Acts of, 123.
Ursinus, St-, 55.
Ursius, St., 63.
Ursmar, St., 101.
VALERIAN, Emperor, 24, 35.
Van Eyck, 228.
Venera, St., 208.
Venerandus, St., tomb of, 158.
Venus, 185, 197, 200, 204, 207.
Venus Genitrix, 205.
Venus, the Pelasgic, 185, 205.
Venus Purpurina, 205.
Vidian, St., 104.
Vigilius, St., 118.
Vincent, St., 29.
Vincent, St., Passion of, 91.
Vincent, St., Madelgarus, 200, 101.
Vincentius, St., 118,120.
Virgil, 19, 123, 159.
Virgil, house of, at Brindisi, 41
Vita Leobardi, 101.
Vitalis and Agricola, SS., 118
Vitus, St., 29.
Vivis, Louis, 230-
Volto Santo of Lucca, 31, 110, 207, 209.
Voragine, James de, 229.
WALDETRUDIS, St., 101.
Westminster Abbey, throne of English kings, 38.
Wilgefortis, St. See Liberata.
Women disguised as men, 63,199, 206.
Wood of the Cross, legend of, 36.
XYSTUS, Pope, 220.
Zeno, Emperor, 129.
Zeno of Elea. philosopher, 35,
The Legends of the Saints: An Introduction to Hagiography
From the French of Père Hippolyte. Delehaye, S.J., Bollandist
Translated By V. M. Crawford
[Reprinted University of Notre Dame Press 1961
With an Introduction By Richard J. Schoeck]
This text is part of the Internet
Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and
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© Paul Halsall, October 21, 2000