Crown of - Flos sanctorum

The group of Spanish translations and editions of the work entitled: Legenda Sanctorum or Legenda Aurea , also Historia Longobardica, made by Jacobo de Vorágine , a Dominican friar who became bishop of Genoa , in the mid-17th century, is called Flos Sanctorum in Latin. , which in Spanish is usually called, although erroneously, Golden Legend, is a collection of the lives of the saints that, at the time, was very important for Catholic culture but especially for the iconography of Christian art, becoming a well-defined biographical subgenre called, the legendary. It is an incunabula work, that is, printed before 1500, specifically before Easter day 1501.

It fell into oblivion because more attention was paid to hagiographic works in verse when our corresponding work was written in verse. It does not have a direct manuscript antecedent or another identical later print.

Golden legend or golden legend

They are the stories collected by the Dominican Jacobo de Vorágine . It is one of the most important books in Catholic culture.

At first, this legend was entitled Legenda Sanctorum, in Spanish "readings on the saints."

Page Legenda Aurea

Jacobo de Vorágine (Giacomo da Varazze, Jacopo da Varazze) was a prelate, title of certain ecclesiastical dignitaries, and Italian writer, born in Casanuova da Varazzo around 1228 or 1230 and died in July 1298. From the Dominican order, he studied in Cologne , was prior in Genoa or Asti and in Lombardy. He also became archbishop in Genoa. Participant in several semi-diplomatic missions, he exercised feudal authority in San Remo thanks to his status as archbishop and ruled several churches in the Levant. Taking advantage of his position as archbishop he was active in the reforms of the clergy, he intervened to establish peace between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. He also transferred the government of San Remo to the civil authority. Beatified by Pius VII in 1816, he is revered in Liguria as a promoter of peace. [ 1 ]

Best known for his writings, especially the Golden Legend, also known as the Lives of the Saints and as the Lombard History. This work deals with readings from the lives of the saints for the festivities of the ecclesiastical year. It was probably written before 1260 and was soon translated into at least French, German, English (by William Caxton ), Italian, and Dutch. Fifty years after the invention of the printing press, more than a hundred editions and translations of the original had been printed.

In addition to the Golden Legend, Jacobo wrote several series of sermons On the Saints, On the Blessed Virgin, etc., also known as Dorados because of their popularity. His Chronicle of Genoa is a mixed bag, but not without historical value. He also did the first translation of the Bible into Italian and there are reasons to suppose that he wrote the Game of Chess which, like the Golden Legend, is better known in English under the Caxton's name. There are other writings well disputed or lost, having been later discovered or established as his Art of Preaching, Summary of Vices and Virtues, Sermons in visitationibus religiosorum, etc.

Jacobo de Vorágine began to write the Legenda Aurea or Golden Legend in 1250 and continued to do so until 1280. The first recorded manuscript dates from 1260, it is part of the collection of the Bavarian state library. The Golden Legend, in its first editions, it was titled as Lombardica Historia, which created around it a false idea that they were two different works, this rumor originated since Jacobo de Vorágine dedicated the second and the last chapter of the work to deal with the life of Pope Pelagius until 1250, also included a summary of the history of the Lombards, hence its name. His work is composed of 177 chapters, although some scholars affirm that it consists of 182. The work in total is divided into five sections, alluding to the liturgical year: From Advent to Christmas From Christmas to Seventieth From Seventieth to Easter From Easter to eighth of Pentecost eighth Pentecost to the new Advent [ 1 ]

At present, more than a thousand manuscript copies have survived because it was one of the most copied works during the late Middle Ages. Later, thanks to the invention of the printing press, there were a multitude of various printed editions, becoming one of the most printed in its early years, it began to be published in the main European languages ​​and even reached America, in 1483 it was published Also in English by William Caxton . The Golden Legend was, along with the Bible , the book that circulated the most in Europe in the Middle Ages. [ 2 ]

The work was originally written in Latin, it collects the readings on the lives of approximately 180 Christian saints and martyrs, taking inspiration from works such as: the Bible, the Gospels, different writings ... etc. the most notable: Estridón , Cassiano , Agustín de Hipona , Gregorio de Tours and Vicente de Beauvais . Along with the readings there is an explanation of the liturgical festivals based on the Gospels and a brief history of Christianity in Lombardy . Alluding, as previously mentioned, to the title of the work, Lombárdica historia. [ 3 ]

The Golden Legend cannot be treated as a true historical document, relying on the events that are told in the work as real events, since Jacobo de la Vorágine is not dedicated to it, he did not have the objective of writing reliable biography, which he was looking for It was to write books of devotion for ordinary people, people whom he would help to achieve a holy life for which "The Golden Legend" narrates different models of life that are worth emulating. The different characters that appear throughout the play are role models for believers. The lack of historical rigor of the work, already mentioned above, was one of the main reasons for its success.

His work reached such popularity and prestige among different artists that they used it both to paint and to sculpt different scenes throughout the Middle Ages , Renaissance and Baroque periods . Some of the most representative paintings of Western iconography based on the Legenda aurea are: the flaying of the Apostle Bartholomew , the assault of Sebastián Mártir and the combat of Saint George and the dragon. The work inspired the artists, so that through these works, they could spread the faith.


The Golden Legend of Jacopo da Varazze , composed around 1260, was constantly expanded and updated with the lives of saints from each country. But it is possible to speak of two different eras: the pre-Tridentine and the post-Tridentine.

Legendary Pretridentine or Medieval and Renaissance

The Golden Legend formed two different traditions according to Thompson and Walsh , an older one, compilation A, and a more recent one, compilation B.

The oldest tradition starts from a compilation of the fourteenth century and gave rise, on the one hand, to a version in which an anonymous author, probably between the years 1475 and 1480, put before the narrative text of each life the curious, sometimes bizarre, etymology of the name giving rise to the incunabula Flos Sanctorum with its etymologies and its derivatives. On the other hand, it gave rise to the incunabula Legend of the saints that Flos Santorum commonly call, without these additions, printed between at least 1490 and 1579.

The most modern tradition starts from a 15th century compilation that gave rise to the Renaissance Flos Sanctorum from 1516 to 1580, attributed indistinctly to Gonzalo de Ocaña , Pedro de la Vega or both. The legendary flourished dramatically between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, this term plays with a disadvantage with the term of Flos Sanctorum that is used in a generic way in the inventories of the libraries of the period as a title or subtitle of most of the works but used erroneously: among the lives of saints, a Flos Sanctorum intersperses chapters dedicated to the feasts of the liturgical calendar, whether they be those consecrated to Mary or those that deal with the essential milestones of the evangelical history and the biography of Jesus, of theAdvent and Pentecost Christmas. Some legendary Castilians preferred to divide Christological themes and the lives of saints into two different sections.

The history of the Castilian Flos Sanctorum revolves around a hagiographic fracture produced in three determining years: those that comprise from 1578 to 1580. It allows us to understand the existence of two stages of the constitution of this genre marked by the influence of Legenda Aurea de Varazze (ca. 1260) and the Vitae Sanctorum of Lipomano and Surio (1575)

Medieval and Renaissance Legendaries: Varazze , Legenda Aurea ca. 1260: Compilation A (XV century) Renaissance Flos Sanctorum (1516-1580) Compilation B (XIV-XV century) Flos Sanctorum with its ethimologies (1475-1480) Legend of the saints (1490-1579)

Legendary postridentinos: Lipomano y Surio, Vitae (1575) Villegas Crown Of Nuevo (1578-1603, 1794) Ribadeneyra , Crown Of (1599-1604 1790-91)

Compilation A or Gran Flos Sanctorum and the Renaissance Flos Sanctorum

Compilation A makes up a set of five manuscripts: manuscripts 780, 12688 and 1289 of the National Library and of the El Escorial library , h-III-22 and h-II-18. All of them date from the 15th century and none reproduces all the biographies and doctrinal readings of the Legenda Aurea.

The general characteristics of these manuscripts in terms of the way in which they reproduce the Latin work of Vorágine stand out due to their opposition to compilation B are: they include fewer readings but more folios are included in relation to the number of chapters because with respect to certain details such as some etymologies of the names and / or broad doctrinal passages that in some cases include the concrete quotation of biblical passages or other works. There are lexical parallels with the Latin source but they are not as abundant as in compilation B and the translation of compilation A is freer. A repertoire of extensive biographies of absent local saints is accommodated in the Legenda Aurea ( Eulalia de Mérida, Silos Santo Domingo de Silos ...) and more extensive than they are when they appear in Vorágine ( María Egipcíaca ). They are more uniform manuscripts in terms of their content. We find a new integration: after talking about the corresponding passages from the life of Christ that come out in the Latin source ( Advent , Nativity , Circumcision , Epiphany , Annunciation , Passion, Resurrection ) we find ourselves in comp. To a more complete life whose source is Vita Christi written in Catalan by Francesc Eiximenisc. 1400 which reflects an intention to move away from the work of Vorágine and even ends up offering a new presentation scheme of Christological matter of the rest of the lives of the saints, an arrangement that was born in h-II-18

On the other hand, the Renaissance Flos Sanctorum of 1516 inherits most of these characteristics without deriving directly from one of the medieval testimonies, it also seeks to move away from the Vorágine version since it is divided into two offering another way of reading that we can deduce from starting from the title: The life and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and the stories of the festivities of his Holy Mother with those of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessor and virgins. This work also modifies the legacy of Vorágine in an innovative way but with more current materials that complement the Christological passages thanks to a translation by Ambrosio Montesino of Ludolfo de Saxony's Vita Christiand also the medieval Castilian translation of compilation A thanks to a new rereading of the Latin text of the Legenda Aurea. This renovation does not stop at 1516 but extends to the Renaissance Flos Sanctorum of 1580

Hypothetical affiliation between the preserved testimonies of compilation A: 780 comes first, then h-III-22 a little more finished, after this is 12688 and 12689, h-II-18 with the division into two parts: readings from the Lord on the one hand and on the other, hagiographic narratives and finally: 1516. [ 4 ]

Legendary Post-Tridentine

After the Council of Trent these pious legends were deeply discredited and had to undergo more faithful historical control. This third tradition is that of the legendary post-Tridentine. The first collection subjected to these critical considerations were the Vitae sanctorum (1575) by Lipomano and Surio , which were the germ of all the others, including, already in the 17th century, the famous Flos sanctorum nuevo by Alonso de Villegas and the no less The Jesuit Father Pedro de Ribadeneyra read Flos sanctorum in three volumes .

In the 18th century, the Christian Year of Father Jean Croisset was imposed , translated into Spanish by Father José Francisco de Isla , also a Jesuit. A similar Spanish work was that of Joaquín Lorenzo Villanueva , The Christian Year of Spain in 19 volumes (Madrid, 1791-1803). In the 20th century, the Christian Year of Father Justo Pérez de Urbel and the Christian Year of the Library of Christian Authors (BAC) appeared, all of them important works to interpret ancient Christian iconography .

The Flos Sanctorum by Alonso de Villegas is published in Toledo in the first part. 1578, and the sixth and last in Madrid in 1603, which are the years of editing and writing of the text, as the author indicates at the end of several of its parts. With its 69 editions collected by Palau. The author sees how unauthorized editions appear on the market, usually in Barcelona and Zaragoza. Being the author of Toledo and this being the city in which the first editions of the first three parts are printed, it seems that it is the Toledo ones that Villegas is controlling. [ 5 ] Pedro de RibadeneyraIn 1599 he published the First Book of the Flos Sanctorum, although we cannot consider the definitive version until the 1609 edition, the writing of the saints commissioned by the Society of Jesus . Rra was a Jesuit.

The two volumes from 1609 present a renewed saints that conform to the norm of per circulum anni and the payroll of the Roman Breviary. Ribadeneyra dedicates a separate book to the extravagant saints. [ 6 ]

Compilation B and the Legend of the Saints

It is believed to be made up of manuscripts hI-14 and k-II-12 from the Library of El Escorial; 8 and 9 of the Library of Menéndez Pelayo ; and 15001 Lázaro Galdiano Library. Also included, although some authors forgot to mention,: m-II-6. The oldest are from the 14th century: 8 and 9 and the rest from the 15th century, it is true that Hernández believes that hI-14 belongs to the 14th century. More lives are included but very synthesized, we find many parallels with the Legenda Aurea, it can also be seen how lives of saints outside the Maelstrom are included. No copy derived directly from other less 8 is copy 9. [ 4 ]


  • Cocci, Jorge , Crown Of Zaragoza, 1516.
  • De Villegas Alonso , the saints y del Crown Of The fifth part , Cuenca, 1594.
  • De Aldovera y Monsalve, Jerónimo , Discourses at the Feasts of the Saints ... Çaragoça, 1625
  • De Ribadeneyra, Pedro, Flos Sanctorum of the lives of the saints . Barcelona, ​​1790, 3 vols.
  • Eudaldo Corriols , Vidas de santos y beatos, canonizados y beatificados ... Barcelona, ​​1791, 3 vols.
  • Lorenzo Villanueva, Joaquín, Christian Year of Spain , in 19 volumes (Madrid, 1791-1803)
  • De Vorágine, Jacobo , The Golden Legend , translation by José Manuel Macías, Madrid, Alianza editorial, 2 vols.
  • De Vorágine, Jacobo , The golden legend 2 , translation by José Manuel Macías, Madrid, Alianza editorial, 2 vols.
  • Damián Iguacen Blorau, Dictionary of the Church's cultural heritage . Madrid: Encuentro Ediciones SA, 1991.
  • José Aragüés Aldaz, «The Castilian saints in the 16th and 17th centuries. A hagiographic itinerary », in Analecta Bollandiana , CXVIII (2000), pp. 329-386.
  • Fernando Baños Vallejo, The Lives of Saints in the Middle Ages , Madrid: Editions of the Labyrinth, 2003
  • Vanesa Hernández Ámez, «Bibliographic census of medieval Castilian hagiography», in the AHLM Bibliographic Bulletin , bibliographic notebook 26 (2004), pp. 369-439.
  • Marc Vitse (ed.), Tribute to Henri Guerreiro. The hagiography between history and literature in the Spain of the Middle Ages and the Golden Age , Iberoamericana, Madrid, 2005.
  • Félix Juan Cabasés, SJ (ed.), B. Iacopo da Varazze, OP, Legend of the Saints (commonly called Flos Santorum) , Universidad Pontificia de Comillas-Institutum Historicum Societatis Iesu, Madrid, 2007.
  • Marcos Cortés Guadarrama, The «Flos Sanctorum with its ethimologies». Study and editing , doctoral thesis directed by F. Baños Vallejo, University of Oviedo, 2010.
  • Cortés Guadarrama, Marcos Ángel , El Flos Sanctorum and its ethimologies, edition and study . Oviedo, 2010.
  • Aragüés Aldaz, José , Los Flos Sanctorum medieval and Renaissance. Very brief critical overview. Zaragoza's University.
  • Martín del Burgo García, Lorenzo , Una hagiografía de autor. The Poetics of the Flos Sanctorum by Pedro de Ribadeneira . Santa Barbara, University of California, 2019.

See also


  1. ^ A b "The Golden Legend" . Ana Maria Brandolini . July 25, 2016 . Retrieved December 18, 2019 .
  2. ^ Readings, Encuentros De Magazine (August 30, 2014). "READING MEETINGS: The golden legend . " READING MEETINGS . Retrieved December 18, 2019 .
  3. ^ Bable, El (August 23, 2019). "El Bable: Santiago de la Vorágine and his Golden Legend: understanding the representation of the saints" . The Bable . Retrieved December 18, 2019 .
  4. ^ A b "the flos sanctorum with its ethimologies edition and study" .
  5. ^ "Alonso de Villegas and his Flos sanctorum" . . Retrieved December 18, 2019 .
  6. "The poetics of the Flos sanctorum de Pedro de Ribadeneira" .

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