Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/The Bollandist Fathers

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BOLLANDIST FATHERS, The, the authors of the famous Ada Sanctorum. During the Roman Catholic revival in the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries a great number of martyrologies were published, and it occurred to a Jesuit father, Heribert Rosweyd, to collect all the various legends about the martyrs and saints of the church into one great standard martyrology, which he proposed should fill 1 8 vols. folio. Rosweyd die d in 1 629 without having been able to carry out his plan. His idea however, was taken up by John Bolland, a Jesuit father of the Low Countries, who had settled in Antwerp. He began an extensive correspondence, writing to every one throughout Europe who he supposed was able to help him The public libraries and the libraries of convents and churches were thoroughly examined for MSS. about saints and martyrs, and so much material was found that the original plan of the work was soon widened. The ground- plan of the undertaking was to form a huge calendar, giving the life and deeds of each saint under the heading of the day set apart by the church for his honour. In 1643 the first two volumes were published, containing the saints days in January. Bolland died soon after the beginning of his labour, but not until he had seen the work fairly started ; other deaths followed, but the work was prosecuted in accordance with the original plan, and went on pros perously until 1773, when the troubles which then overtook the Jesuits affected the Bollandists also. The little com pany struggled on, however, amid many difficulties until 1794, when they were dispersed ; and the whole of the MS. collections were destroyed during the French invasion of the Netherlands. At this time 54 vols. had been pub lished, bringing the work down to the 15th of October. In 1837 three Jesuit fathers made proposals to continue the Ada according to the original plan, and in 1838 pub lished a programme under the title De proaecutione operis Boilandiani. They made some progress with the under taking, but their work is much inferior to the earlier Ada. The 54 vols. of the older Bollandists, along with 6 vols. of the continuation, were published at Paris and Home in 1863-7.