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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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A catalogue or list of martyrs, including the history of their lives and sufferings for the sake of religion. The term comes from "witness, " and dico, or colligo. The martyrologies draw their material from the calendars of particular churches, in which the several festivals dedicated to them are marked; and which seem to be derived from the practice of the ancient Romans, who inserted the names of heroes and great men in their fasti, or public registers. The martyrologies are very numerous and contain many ridiculous and even contradictory narratives; which is easily accounted for, if we consider how many forged and spurious accounts of the lives of saints and martyrs appeared in the first ages of the church, which the legendary writers afterwards adopted without examining into the truth of them. However, some good critics, of late years, have gone a great way towards clearing the lives of the saints and martyrs from the monstrous heap of fiction they laboured under.

See article LEGEND. The martyrology of Eusebius of Caesarea was the most celebrated in the ancient church.

It was translated into Latin by St. Jerome; but the learned agree that it is not now extant. That attributed to Beda in the eighth century, is of very doubtful authority; the names of several saints being there found who did not live till after the time of Beda. The ninth century was very fertile in martyrologies; then appeared that of Florus, subdeacon of the church at Lyons; who, however, only filled up the chasms in Beda. this was published about the year 830, and was followed by that of Waldenburtus, monk of the diocese of Treves, written in verse about the year 848; and this by that of Usard, a French monk, and written by the command of Charles the Bald, in 875, which last is the martyrology now ordinarily used in the Romish church. That of Rabanus Maurtus is an improvement on Beda and Florus, written about the year 845; that of Noker, monk of St. Gal, was written about the year 894. The martyrology of Ado, monk of Ferriers, in the diocese of Treves, afterwards archbishop of Vienne, is a descendant of the Roman, if we may so call it; for Du Sollier gives its genealogy thus:

The martyrology of St. Jerome is the great Roman martyrology; from this was made the little Roman one printed by Rosweyd; of this little Roman martyrology was formed that of Beda, augmented by Florus. Ado compiled his in the year 858. the martyrology of Nevelon monk of Corbie, written about the year 1089, is little more than an abridgment of that of Ado: father Kircher also makes mention of a Coptic martyrology, preserved by the Maronites at Rome. We have also several Protestant martyrologies, containing the sufferings of the reformed, under the Papists, viz. an English martyrology by J. Fox; with others by Clark, Bray, &c.

See PERSECUTION. Martyrology is also used in the Romish church for a roll or register kept in the vestry of each church, containing the names of all the saints and martyrs both of the universal church, and of the particular ones of that city or monastery. Martyrology is also supplied to the painted or written catalogues in the Roman churches, containing the foundations, orbits, prayers, and masses, to be said each day.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Martyrology'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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