Rev. Alban Butler's ORIGINAL Lives of the Saints - Complete Seven Volume Set
January to December plus Appendices etc. - Hardcover - Illustrated -5100 pages
Very few published works require such a lengthy explanation of exactly WHICH edition is being offered, in what format, and why, than Fr. Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints. The reason is that there are so many very different books being printed under this author’s name and under this title due to it’s long history (the work is almost 300 years old) and its universal popularity. Few catholic books except the Bible, the Confessions, the Imitation, and the Summa, are as widely read. This book has also been extensively revised, altered, and updated since its original publication, with new editions, even 21st century revisions being made, that we feel the time is ripe for an original, unexpurgated, and unrevised print version to be made available.
This edition is widely considered to be the most complete and authoritative ever issued. It is the 1854 edition of D. J. Sadlier of New York, and in the Preface it gives its “pedigree.” The original was printed anonymously in London in 1759, after 30 years work on the project. The edition published by Sadlier is an exact replica of the Dublin and London edition of 1833. Being a scholarly work, but also a work deeply imbued with the piety and devotion of a priest’s lifetime effort, it is loaded with footnotes which comprise a significant proportion of the total text. In the original book, the footnotes were printed in such a small, closely-set typeface, that they were almost unreadable.
Loreto Publications has utilized the recent development of OCR scanning to extract the original text and to put it into a modern, highly readable, and much larger font typeface than any of the old editions. We have extensively proofread the text thus generated, and have made the layout “user friendly” as the moderns so succinctly state. In addition, our already available edition of Butler’s Little Pictorial Lives—which is a drastic abridgment of this original edition to one volume, illustrated, with one saint and one image for each day of the year—has provided us with 365 beautiful 19th century engravings which we have added to this original un-illustrated text.
Loreto has made a few corrections of obvious typographical errors and has slightly altered some capitalization rubrics and some spellings, but we have has refrained from alterations to the text. We think that modern readers are not so uneducated as to need the work “updated” for them, either as to content or style, since the beautiful expressiveness of Butler’s 18th century grammatical and rhetorical mastery is not so far removed historically as to render it unintelligible to any ordinary 21st century reader. We are certain that our readers will appreciate the original work for its piety, beauty, and comprehensive scholarship.
A great man once said that “History is the laboratory of Wisdom.” And where do we find the best history? It is found in the lives of the saints, for it is through their lives on earth, lived within the union of Christ’s mystical body, the Catholic Church, that we see the only history that truly matters for all eternity.
This spectacular history by Fr. Alban Butler, The Lives of the Saints, presents to the reader the life story of over 1600 saints and their times. In the original introduction we find this bold statement:
“It is on this account we have ventured to designate The Lives of the Saints an historical supplement to the
Old and New Testaments. We think this work deserves to be so considered, on account of the close resemblance it bears to the historical portions of holy writ. Let the divine economy, in this respect, be for a moment the subject of
the reader’s consideration.”
Loreto Publications has here reproduced the finest original edition of the text from the early 19th century with no modernization, alterations, deletions, or additions to the product of Father Butler.
Father Alban Butler was born in 1710, at Appletree, Northamptonshire, the second son of Simon Butler, Esq. Orphaned at the age of eight, he was sent to be educated at the English College, Douay, in France. In 1735, Butler was ordained a priest. At Douay, he was appointed professor of philosophy, and later professor of theology. It was at Douay, he began his principal work The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints. He also prepared material for Richard Challoner’s Memoirs of Missionary Priests, a work on the martyrs of the reign of Elizabeth. He labored for some time as a missionary priest in Staffordshire, and was finally appointed president of the English seminary at Saint Omer in France, where he remained till his death in 1773.