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Hagiography is the study of saints. 'A hagiography' refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy persons; and specifically, the biography of a saint. Hagiology, by contrast, is the study of saints collectively, without focusing on the life of an individual saint.

Hagiography comprised an important literary genre in the early millennia of the Christian church, providing informational history as well as inspirational stories and legends. A hagiographic account of an individual saint can comprise a vita. It was one of the more important areas in the study of history during the Middle Ages. The Golden Legend of Jacob de Voragine compiled a great deal of mediæval hagiographic material, with a strong emphasis on miracle tales.

The Bollandist tradition continues the study, academic assembly, appraisal and publication of materials relating to the lives of Christian saints. (See Acta Sanctorum.)

Critics of modern biographies who detect uncritically reverential stances on the part of a biographer may damn such work as a "hagiography" by extension.

External Links

'Societé des Bollandistes' Web-site: