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Ökumenisches Heiligenlexikon

Alban Butler:
The Lives of the Fathers,
Martyrs, and Principal Saints


Das englischsprachige Standardwerk von Alban Butler: The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints wurde erstmals 1756 bis 1759 in London veröffentlicht. Butler populärwissenschaftliche, kurzgefasste Wiedergabe der Acta Sanctorum ist bis heute das Standardwerk der englischsprachigen Hagiographie. Das Werk ist von hohem wissenschaftlichem Standard, deutlich geprägt von katholischer Theologie. Natürlich ist manchmal der Stand der Erkenntnisse und v. a. der Kanonisierung nicht mehr aktuell.

Im Ökumenischen Heiligenlexikon finden sie die von Google gescannten Bände als pdfs:
• das englische Original in der 1812 bis 1866 in London erschienen Ausgabe mit dem Ergänzungsband von 1823 und
• die 1823 bis 1827 erschienene deutschsprachige Ausgabe, nach der französischen Übersetzung bearbeitet und sehr vermehrt von Dr. Räß, Professor der Theologie und Direktor am bischöflichen Seminar in Mainz, und Dr. Weiß, geistlicher Rat und Kanonikus am hohen Dom zu Speyer, Simon Müller'sche Buchhandlung, Mainz.

deutsche Ausgabe: englische Ausgabe:
Band 1: 1. bis 25. Januar Band 1: 1. bis 31. Januar
Band 2: 1. bis 29. Februar
Band 3: 11. Februar bis 12. März
Band 4: 13. März bis 22. April
Band 5: 13. bis 30. April
Band 6: 1. bis 19. Mai Band 5: 1. bis 31. Mai
Band 7: 20. Mai. bis 9. Juni
Band 10: 23. Juli bis 9. August
Band 11: 10. bis 27. August Band 8: 1. bis 31. August
Band 12: 28. August bis 15. September Band 9: 1. bis 30. September
Band 13: 16. bis 30. September
Band 15: 15. bis 31. Oktober
Band 16: 1. bis 15. November Band 11: 1. bis 30. November
Band 18: 6. bis 25. Dezember Band 11: 1. bis 31. Dezember
Band 19: 26. bis 31. Dezember + Ergänzungen 1. Januar bis 28. Juni Ergänzung von im 18./19. Jahrhundert Kanonisierten
Band 20: Ergänzungen 4. Juli bis 29. Dezember
Band 21: Register (alphabetisch, chronolgisch, Sachverzeichnis, Stände)
Band 22: Feste Advent bis Passionszeit
Band 23: Feste Karwoche bis Kirchweih

Preface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+JAMES DOYLE

Bibliograhische Angaben

The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints,
by Alban Butler
New York, Sept. 1895.
Imprimatur June 28th, 1895, Michael Augustinus, Archbishop of New York

Weitere Einleitungsartikel:

An Account of the Life and Writings of the Rev. Alban Butler

Preface

An Introductury Discourse