Depicting the lives of the saints in an array of factual and fictional stories, The Golden Legend was perhaps the most widely read book, after the Bible, during the late Middle Ages. It was compiled around 1260 by Jacobus de Voragine, a scholarly friar and later archbishop of Genoa, whose purpose was to captivate, encourage, and edify the faithful, while preserving a vast store of information pertaining to the legends and traditions of the church. In this translation, the first in English of the complete text, William Granger Ryan captures the immediacy of this rich work, which offers an important guide for readers interested in medieval art and literature and, more generally, in popular religious culture.
Arranged according to the order of saints' feast days, these fascinating stories are now combined into one volume. This edition also features an introduction by Eamon Duffy contextualizing the work.
William Granger Ryan was a priest in the diocese of Brooklyn and Queens and president of Seton Hill College. Eamon Duffy is professor of the history of Christianity at Cambridge University. His books include The Stripping of the Altars and Saints and Sinners.
"[The Golden Legend] came to serve as the literary equivalent of wall-paintings and stained glass. . . . For the translation of the work in its entirety into English we have had to wait 700 years for the energy and learning of a distinguished American academic, William Granger Ryan."--Gerard Irvine, Times Literary Supplement
"Art historians depend on it. Medievalists should know it inside-out. . . . [F]or the rest of us it remains a treasure-house of European culture, crammed full of the things which everyone, once upon a time, used to know."--Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
"Princeton University Press's volume must rank as one of the most useful reprints of the year for church historians, art historians, and students of medieval and early modern literature."--Dr. Alison Shell, Church Times
"Since its completion around 1260, The Golden Legend has been a constant source of inspiration for Christian writers and artists, and it still reverberates within the Catholic tradition. Anyone interested in medieval religion and art and in Catholic culture will be delighted with this new edition of the English translation. Scholars and enthusiasts alike will also enjoy Eamon Duffy's informative and engaging introduction to it."--Miri Rubin, Queen Mary University of London
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Jacobus de Voragine: