1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Martyrology

MARTYROLOGY, a catalogue or list of martyrs, or, more exactly, of saints, arranged in the order of their anniversaries. This is the now accepted meaning in the Latin Church. In the Greek Church the nearest equivalent to the martyrology is the Synaxarium (q.v.). As regards form, we should distinguish between simple martyrologies, which consist merely of an enumeration of names, and historical martyrologies, which also include stories or biographical details. As regards documents, the most important distinction is between local and general martyrologies. The former give a list of the festivals of some particular Church; the latter are the result of a combination of several local martyrologies. We may add certain compilations of a factitious character, to which the name of martyrology is given by analogy, e.g. the Martyrologe universel of Châtelain (1709). As types of local martyrologies we may quote that of Rome, formed from the Depositio martyrum and the Depositio episcoporum of the chronograph of 354; the Gothic calendar of Ulfila’s Bible, the calendar of Carthage published by Mabillon, the calendar of fasts and vigils of the Church of Tours, going back as far as Bishop Perpetuus (d. 490), and preserved in the Historia francorum (xi. 31) of Gregory of Tours. The Syriac martyrology discovered by Wright (Journal of Sacred Literature, 1866) gives the idea of a general martyrology. The most important ancient martyrology preserved to the present day is the compilation falsely attributed to St Jerome, which in its present form goes back to the end of the 6th century. It is the result of the combination of a general martyrology of the Eastern Churches, a local martyrology of the Church of Rome, some general martyrologies of Italy and Africa, and a series of local martyrologies of Gaul. The task of critics is to distinguish between its various constituent elements. Unfortunately, this document has reached us in a lamentable condition. The proper names are distorted, repeated or misplaced, and in many places the text is so corrupt that it is impossible to understand it. With the exception of a few traces of borrowings from the Passions of the martyrs, the compilation is in the form of a simple martyrology. Of the best-known historical martyrologies the oldest are those which go under the name of Bede and of Florus (Acta sanctorum Martii, vol. ii.); of Wandelbert, a monk of Prüm (842); of Rhabanus Maurus (c. 845); of Ado (d. 875); of Notker (896); and of Wolfhard (c. 896 v. Analecta bollandiana, xvii. 11). The most famous is that of Usuard (c. 875), on which the Roman martyrology was based. The first edition of the Roman martyrology appeared at Rome in 1583. The third edition, which appeared in 1584, was approved by Gregory XIII., who imposed the Roman martyrology upon the whole Church. In 1586 Baronius published his annotated edition, which in spite of its omissions and inaccuracies is a mine of valuable information.

The chief works on the martyrologies are those of Rosweyde, who in 1613 published at Antwerp the martyrology of Ado (also edition of Giorgi, Rome, 1745); of Sollerius, to whom we owe a learned edition of Usuard (Acta sanctorum Junii, vols. vi. and vii.); and of Fiorentini, who published in 1688 an annotated edition of the Martyrology of St Jerome. The critical edition of the latter by J. B. de Rossi and Mgr. L. Duchesne, was published in 1894, in vol. ii. of the Acta sanctorum Novembris. The historical martyrologies taken as a whole have been studied by Dom Quentin (1908). There are also numerous editions of calendars or martyrologies of less universal interest, and commentaries upon them. Mention ought to be made of the famous calendar of Naples, commented on by Mazocchi (Naples, 1744) and Sabbatini (Naples, 1744).

See C. de Smedt, Introductio generalis ad historiam ecclesiasticam (Gandavi, 1876), pp. 127–156; H. Matagne and V. de Buck in De Backer, Bibliothèque des écrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus, 2nd ed., vol. iii. pp. 369–387; De Rossi-Duchesne, Les Sources du martyrologe hiéronymien (Rome, 1885); H. Achelis, Die Martyrologien, ihre Geschichte und ihr Wert (Berlin, 1900); H. Delehaye, “Le Témoignage des martyrologes,” in Analecta bollandiana, xxvi. 78–99 (1907); H. Quentin, Les Martyrologes historiques du moyen âge (Paris, 1908).  (H. De.)