The Golden Legend was a collection of hagiographies compiled by Jacobus de Varagine, a scholar of the late medieval period. It was most likely written between 1259 and 1266 and added to over the centuries. Although it’s difficult to date its composition, it probably dates from that time. It is one of the most popular collections of hagiographies in Europe. Today, its importance is recognized both historically and today.
It depicts the lives of the saints and was the most widely read book of the late Middle Ages. It was written by Jacobus de Voragine, a scholarly friar and later archbishop of Genoa, and preserved a wealth of information on church legends. A recent translation of The Golden Legend by William Granger Ryan captures its richness and provides guidance for medieval artists and popular religious culture. Here are some of its highlights:
The Golden Legend is a classic text about saints, a popular source for religious art during the late Middle Ages. Its modern translation by William Granger Ryan captures the immediacy of the text and makes it a valuable guide to medieval culture. But despite its importance, its popularity isn’t all about its visual beauty. If you’re looking for a classic introduction to medieval Christianity, consider The Roman Martyrology.