Some of the sources of the Lives of the Saints referred to on this website, not listed in any particular order, and with no pretensions to completeness.
The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Series
This is abbreviated on this website as NPNF. The full title is A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. It includes two “Series” of volumes, and there is accompanying series called The Ante-Nicene Fathers: The writings of the Fathers down to 325.
The full set comes to 38 volumes, and it is an invaluable treasure-chest of Patristic writings that ought to be in every Orthodox Christian’s library.
These translations of the Church Fathers were originally made by Oxford scholars in the 19th century, and PDFs of some of these original Oxford translations can found at www.archive.org. What is most easily available to us now are American editions that were edited by American scholars although, mercifully, not edited very heavily for the most part. It is sometimes referred to as the Eerdmans edition, because it was printed by the Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lately it has been kept in print by Hendrickson Publishers and is available here, either as a complete set, or by series, or, in many cases, as individual volumes.
The complete set is the most economical, and will provide a life-time of spiritual reading: the martyrdom and Epistles of Saint Polycarp and Saint Ignatius the God-bearer; Saint John Chrysostom’s Commentaries on the full Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint John, and on the Acts and all the Epistles of Saint Paul; Saint Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Homilies; many of the magnificent Orations of Saint Gregory the Theologian; Saint Basil’s Hexaemeron and On the Holy Spirit; the Ecclesiastical Histories of Eusebius, Sozomen, Socrates, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus, which both recount the history of the Church and are the source of the lives of many of the Saints in the Synaxarion – these are only a few of the treasures. A PDF listing the full contents can be found here, and in case the reader has not already suspected it, we strongly recommend obtaining this whole set and making it part of one’s regular reading.
Since all the material in this set is in the public domain, we quote liberally from it here and there, hoping both that the passages chosen to be presented on this website will edify and give joy to the readers, and also give them a little glimpse of what they would have if they obtained the entire set.
A Biographical Dictionary of the Saints, by the Rt. Rev. F. G. Holweck, B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, 1924, republished by Gale Research Company, Book Tower, Detroit, 1969.
Holweck’s work is unique. We know of no other one-volume resource in any language that provides so much information on the Saints, and on those who are considered Saints by almost every conceivable denomination that venerates Saints. It seems that there is not a Synaxarion or Menology or collection of Saints’ Lives that Father Holweck did not consult, and anybody interested in having one book that distills in itself the hagiographical information of many libraries should own this, despite its modern weakness for dismissing the miraculous as unhistorical and its prejudices against the Orthodox Saints after 1054.
Victor of Vita: History of the Vandal Persecution, translated by John Moorhead, Liverpool University Press, 1992. This describes the sufferings of the Confessors and Martyrs of North Africa under the Arian Vandal rulers in fifth century.
Vita Patrum: The Life of the Fathers, by Saint Gregory of Tours, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, 1988. The monastic Saints of Gaul.
History of the Franks, by Saint Gregory of Tours, translated by Lewis Thorpe, Penguin Classics, 1974. Saint Gregory begins with the creation of Adam and Eve then quickly runs through ancient history to recount the first three centuries of the Church, then the history of Gaul, which after the rise of the Frankish rulers, became France. Though it is also a secular history with many worldly events necessarily included, it is also studded as with gems by the lives of the Saints of Gaul and France, and moreover reflects a Western Europe that was still one with the East: whenever Saint Gregory refers to the Emperor, it is the one reigning in Constantinople. He wrote his History in 591, three years before his death.
Three Byzantine Saints, Contemporary Biographies translated from the Greek, by Elizabeth Dawes and Norman H. Baynes, Oxford, 1948, reprinted by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996.
The full lives of Saint Daniel the Stylite, Saint Theodore of Sykeon, and Saint John the Almsgiver. The text is believed to be in the public domain and provided online here, here, and here. The reprint is available here, and copies of the first edition by Oxford can be found on line. This should be in everybody’s library.
History of the English Church and People, by the Venerable Bede, translated by Leo Sherley-Price, Penguin Classics, ﬁrst printed in 1955 and oft reprinted. Bede’s rigorously conscientious method of verifying all his facts has won him a reputation as one of the first modern historians. The translator notes on page 27, “. . . it is noteworthy that despite the many difficulties under which it was written, Bede’s History contains relatively few errors, and modern research has confirmed the accuracy of most of his statements.”
A History of the Monks of Syria, by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, MI, 1985. Theodoret of Cyrrhus also wrote an ecclesiastical history which is available in the NPNF. He is our source for what we know of many Saints in the Synaxarion. Many of the monastic Saints whose lives he recounts History of the Monks of Syria he knew personally, including Saint Symeon the Stylite, of whom he wrote while the Saint was still living.
The Western Fathers, Being the lives of SS. Martin of Tours, Ambrose [of Milan], Augustine of Hippo, Honoratus of Arles, and Germanus of Auxerre, translated and edited by F.R. Hoare. This is a collection of lives of some of the greatest Saints of the Church in the West in the fifth century, mostly by men who knew and lived with them, or learned of them from those who had. Because some of Augustine’s teachings are significantly at variance with the Patristic Faith and, as in the case of predestination, he refused to correct himself when the error was pointed out, as it was by Saint John Cassian (see February 29), we cannot follow the example of those who have added his name to the list of the Church’s Saints and Teachers in recent times. Readers of The Western Fathers will note how his life contrasts with the other four, whose miracle-working powers extended even to resurrecting the dead, and whose asceticism and intensity of prayer was veritably superhuman. With this qualification we strongly recommend this book.
Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, Selected and Translated from the original texts by David Marshall Lang, first printed in 1956 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London, and reprinted by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, though both are now out of print.
New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke, Saint Nectarios Press, Seattle, 1985. The martyrdoms of many of the Christians who suffered after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Now out of print, this was substantially edited and reprinted as Slain for Their Faith: Orthodox Christian Martyrs under Moslem Oppression, published by Leo Papadopoulos and distributed by the Saint John of Kronstadt Press.
The New Martyrs of Russia, Archpriest Michael Polsky, Monastery Press, Montreal, 1972.
Russia’s Catacomb Saints, Saint Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, California, 1982. A rich source of information about the founding Hierarchs and the Martyrs of all callings of the Catacomb Church in Russia that preserved right confession of the Faith after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the capitulation of the Moscow Patriarchate to the atheist power in 1927 by Metropolitan Sergius of unhappy memory. Unfortunately long out of print.
Readers will have noted the abbreviation “PG” in many references throughout this website. It stands for Patrologia Graeca by J.P. Migne, a monumental collection that provides the original Greek texts of the Church Fathers in a series of over 160 volumes, the first volume having been printed in 1857. It is part of a larger work called Patrologiae Cursus Completus and includes his Patrologia Latina, providing the Latin texts of the Western Fathers, such as Saint Ambrose of Milan and so forth.
Most of the volumes of both series are available online, for example here and here and here.
ΑΓΙΟΛΟΓΙΟΝ ΤΗΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΥ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑΣ (A Book of the Saints of the Orthodox Church), by Sophronios Eustratiades, published by the Apostolike Diakonia, Athens, 1995. This gives short entries on the Saints in the Synaxarion of Saint Nicodemus, but supplements them with many others from Athonite manuscripts and other unpublished sources.
The Roman Martyrology, Newman Press, Westminster, 1962. The Western version of the Synaxarion, it lists the Saints commemorated each day.
Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, in Four Volumes, by Fr. M.F. Toal, available from Ignatius Press here.
Les Petits Bollandistes is a 17-volume collection of lives of the saints by Paul Guerin, published in Paris in 1865. It is based on the monumental work of the Bollandist hagiographical society, and presents the lives of the Saints for daily reading as part of one’s spiritual life. We have compared some of the lives in this collection to the original Latin of the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, for example the martyrdom of Saint Agatha, and found the French translation to be scrupulously faithful to the original Latin. The edition owned by our monastery is the seventh edition, ninth printing. No date is given, but it was probably printed in the 1880’s. Digital scans of the original books are available online from a number of sources, such as here and here.
Digital copies of the original Acta Sanctorum are available through this webpage.
The True Vine is a periodical of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America that was printed from 1989 through 2012. Back issues are available from the publications page, and a complete list of available back issues is posted here.
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