hagiography


hagiography
hagiographic /hag'ee euh graf"ik, hay'jee-/, hagiographical, adj.
/hag'ee og"reuh fee, hay'jee-/, n., pl. hagiographies.
the writing and critical study of the lives of the saints; hagiology.
[1805-15; HAGIO- + -GRAPHY]

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Literature describing the lives of the saints.

Christian hagiography includes stories of saintly monks, bishops, princes, and virgins, with accounts of their martyrdom and of the miracles connected with their relics, tombs, icons, or statues. Written as early as the 2nd century and popular during the Middle Ages, hagiographies focus on lives of individual saints or on stories of a class of saints (e.g., martyrs).

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▪ religious study and literature
      the body of literature describing the lives and veneration of the Christian saints. The literature of hagiography embraces acts of the martyrs (martyr) (i.e., accounts of their trials and deaths); biographies of saintly monks, bishops, princes, or virgins; and accounts of miracles connected with saints' tombs, relics, icons, or statues.

      Hagiographies have been written from the 2nd century AD to instruct and edify readers and glorify the saints. In the Middle Ages it was customary to read aloud at divine office and in the monastic refectory (dining hall) biographies of the principal saints on their feast days. Besides biographies of single saints, other works of hagiography told the stories of a class of saints, such as Eusebius of Caesarea's account of the martyrs of Palestine (4th century AD) and Pope Gregory I the Great's Dialogues, a collection of stories about Saint Benedict and other 6th-century Latin monks. Perhaps the most important hagiographic collection is the Legenda aurea (Golden Legend) of Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century. Modern critical hagiography began in 17th-century Flanders with the Jesuit ecclesiastic Jean Bolland and his successors, who became known as Bollandists.

      The importance of hagiography derives from the vital role that the veneration of the saints played throughout medieval civilization in both eastern and western Christendom. Second, this literature preserves much valuable information not only about religious beliefs and customs but also about daily life, institutions, and events in historical periods for which other evidence is either imprecise or nonexistent.

      The hagiographer has a threefold task: to collect all the material relevant to each particular saint, to edit the documents according to the best methods of textual criticism, and to interpret the evidence by using literary, historical, and any other pertinent criteria.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hagiography — (  /ˌhæɡ …   Wikipedia

  • Hagiography — • The name given to that branch of learning which has the saints and their worship for its object Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Hagiography     Hagiography      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Hagiography — Ha gi*og ra*phy ( f[y^]; 277), n. Same as {Hagiographa}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hagiography — (n.) writing of saints lives, 1821, from Gk. hagios holy (see HAGIOLOGY (Cf. hagiology)) + GRAPHY (Cf. graphy). Related: Hagiographic (1819); hagiographical (1580s); hagiographer (1650s) …   Etymology dictionary

  • hagiography — ► NOUN 1) the writing of the lives of saints. 2) a biography idealizing its subject. DERIVATIVES hagiographic adjective hagiographical adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • hagiography — [hag΄ē äg′rə fē, hā΄jēäg′rə fē] n. pl. hagiographies [ HAGIO + GRAPHY] 1. a book or writing, or an assemblage of these, about the lives of saints 2. such books or writings as a field of study …   English World dictionary

  • HAGIOGRAPHY — Although hagiographies, embellished accounts of biblical worthies, are not unknown in previous ages, particularly in the apocrypha (e.g., lives of the prophets and Martyrdom of isaiah ), in the Middle Ages they developed as a specific genre of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • hagiography — UK [ˌhæɡɪˈɒɡrəfɪ] / US [ˌhæɡɪˈɑɡrəfɪ] noun [countable] Word forms hagiography : singular hagiography plural hagiographies 1) a book about the lives of saints 2) formal a book about a person s life that deliberately includes only good things about …   English dictionary

  • hagiography — noun Date: 1821 1. biography of saints or venerated persons 2. idealizing or idolizing biography …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hagiography — noun /ˌheɪdʒiˈɑɡrəfi,ˌhæɡiˈɒɡrəfi/ a) The study of saints. b) A biography of a saint …   Wiktionary


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