Volumes of the Acta Sanctorum online

Lately I’ve found myself looking for Saints’ Acta. I’m not sure how one finds translations.  In fact it’s really not that easy to find even the original texts.   But I believe that the “go to” source for the texts is the monster 17-19th century compilation, made by the Bollandists, the Acta Sanctorum.

Editions

Here is the Bollandists’ own overview of the series.  The most important part is the Synopsis of the three editions of Acta Sanctorum (PDF).

  • The original series, published at Antwerp, consisted of 68 volumes.  See Brepols list here, and links to those I could find below.
  • A Venice reprint from 1734-1760 is basically the same, except that it combined May vol. 7 and the propylaeum, and it didn’t include September vols.6-8, October 7-13, or any of November or December.  A Brussels supplement to this (ed. Greuse) provided Sept. 5 and 8, and October 1-6.
  • A Paris reprint of 1863-1870 (edited by Palmé) assigned a number to each volume.  But it also divided the two January volumes into three, and stopped with October vol. 12; after which Palme was printing the original series as it appeared.  Links to these follow.
  • Finally there is a 1966-71 reprint of vols.1-60 of the original series.  The 60 volumes printed may be found at the DCO site here.

I doubt that this list of versions is complete.

I have found, by experience, that the page numbers in the Paris edition are not the same as those in the original.

Volume numbers and referencing

The original volumes did not have an overall series volume number, although the 19th century Paris reprint assigned one.  Instead the material is organised by Saint’s day; if the Saint is commemorated on 1st June, then that is where the material will be found.  In turn that means that we need to know which volume contains which days.

A reference to a page in the Acta Sanctorum will typically look like this: AS Mai 23, 412; i.e. May 23rd, page 412.  But you may also get ASS Mai III 412; which would indicate May vol. 3, page 412.

Other collections of links

See also:

Online volumes – The 19th century Paris edition

Here are the 60 volumes of the Paris-Palmé edition, courtesy of Villanova University; followed by the other original volumes which Palmé then issued.  We’re still missing two volumes.

At this point things get rather confused.  Palme’s numbering of 60 volumes of reprints is 1 more than the original series, because he divided January into 3 volumes.  So the “official” number is only 59 to this point.

There are three further volumes, listed at Brepols here as 69, 70, and 71; and then the “Acta Sanctorum Tables Generales” (1900), listed as 72.

Online volumes – Original Antwerp Edition

Since I compiled the list above, volumes of the original printing have started to come online.  I give those I could find here (which often meant searching for “acta sanctorvm septembris”!).  The Greek text in these is frankly very hard to read.

For November and December, the Paris/Palme volumes are the original edition.

Online volumes – Venice Edition

The Venice reprints start in the 18th century.  They do not reprint everything, however.  Here are some volumes that I came across incidentally:

The Venice edition carried on as far as September vol. 5.

Studies

  • H. Delehaye, The work of the Bollandists Through Three Centuries, 1615-1915, (1922) online here.

Contributions of links to volumes where there are gaps are most welcome.  Add them in the comments.

48 thoughts on “Volumes of the Acta Sanctorum online

  1. Thanks for all that. A few years back I had downloaded the vol with Jerome from Documenta Omnia Cath… Out of curiosity I checked back (that site has had so many reformations!) and they are still listed (under Societe’ des Bollandistes on the home-page). After much groaning my laptop delivered the last vol for August (all 900+pp!) – a good clean copy. (No guarantee that all are of same quality – nor that they will still be there tomorrow!!!) The Acta needs a volume of “How to Use…” and each entry must be read against the background of the bitter quarrels of the time of writing. D.Knowles (I think) has a good essay somewhere on the whole (unfinished) project.

  2. Thank you — I had forgotten that the Documenta Catholica Omnia might have such things. I will update the post.

    I agree about a “how to use” guide. I haven’t worked out what the trick is, yet.

  3. Dom Knowles’s book is ‘Great Historical Enterprises’ (London, 1963) – worth reading. Some ‘Acta Sanctorum’ volumes used to be on Gallica, but I’ve not been able to find them recently. Still, this would be worth checking.
    The Bollandists themselves have a website (http://www.kbr.be/~socboll/), with much useful information, in particular about about manuscripts.
    The Bollandists’ ‘Bibliothecae Hagiograhicae’ series are the key instrument for accessing saints’ lives in the Acta and elsewhere. They only exist in print volumes, but I’m sure the next iteration will be electronic.

  4. vols. 62.63.64 has in archive.org links like the other volumes listed above. You onliy must chance the number of the volume. I jope this was your question.
    Best wishes
    J. Schmnidt

  5. I searched, and found three volumes labelled 62, 63 and 64. The first two are what they seem to be, the opening volumes of November. “vol. 64” seems to be a supplement to October.

    I wish I had a proper list of volumes and numbers. I’m having to guess, and assemble stuff from various sources, which is very risky.

  6. Dass man in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliotek unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen (Wohnsitz in Deutschland?) eine “Nationallizenz” bekommen und danach auf die digitalisierte Fassung aller Bändce der Acta Sanctorum zugreifen kann, hatte ich wohl schon mitgeteilt?Best wishes
    J.Schmidt

  7. Just to let you know, the Omnia Catholica site has some gaps, not many but a few. List: Jan, vol 5; March vol 3; April vol 2; July vol 5; October vol 7,1; October auctaria; November vol 1; November vol 2,1. It pays to go to Archive and find the Villanova scans, the ones that use the ascending number. You can get the volumes listed above from there to supplement the Omnia Catholica scans–but there’s really no way to do it but to open each archive volume and see which it is and whether you already have it. My impression is that after doing this there is only 1 volume missing–if 68 volumes is really the right number of volumes.

    Cheers-
    Useless

  8. Many thanks for the great info. I’m glad I found this blog/website early in a search. Golden site! Thanks, Dr. Pearse, et. al., again! jill

  9. Thanks so much for this. I’m working on a dissertation in slightly unusual circumstances and this is a huge help.

  10. Hi Roger, this account from Nicephorus is usually dated to AD 303. Some sources say early Roman martyrologies and Greek menologies placed the event on Dec.25th. Can you help me corroborate this or point me where this account occurs in Roman martyrologies and Greek menologies? Thanks – Kurt
    “At Nicomedia (a city of Bethenia) when the festival of Christ’s birth-day came, and a multitude of Christians in all ages had assembled together in the temple to celebrate that birth-day. Diocletian the tyrant, having gotten an advantageous occasion whereby he might accomplish his madness and fury, sent men thither to enclose the temple, and to set it on fire round about, and so consumed them all to ashes, even twenty thousand persons.” Ecc. Hist. 7.6

  11. Thanks so much for collecting!

    November is a tricky thing in AASS… Volume 2 is split in two parts: Pt. 1 contains the Martyrologium Hieronymianum. Ed. Giovanni Battista de Rossi / Louis Duchsne, Brussels 1894, while pt. 2 (so, November II.2) is Hippolyte Delehaye’s Commentarius perpetuus on this same text – edited in Brussels only in 1931!

    Both are two different books (obviously), and I only find II.2 on the internet — it’s your #63. Delehaye’s commentary then would be a “63 bis” on your list (to be so oldfashioned). Interestingly, someone put it on one single html page here: https://www.heiligenlexikon.de/ActaSanctorum/November_II2.html

    Maybe you like to add the link between #63 and #64 (it is not 64!).

    Generally speaking, the numbers from 1 to 65 are really unsual… volumes have not been counted by the Bollandist.

  12. Le Martyrologium Hieronymianum, ed. Rossi-Duchesne (1894) peut être trouvé de 2 façons sur le Web :
    1 Dans le Google américain. Search : « Acta sanctorum novembris: qua dies tertius partim et quartus… 1894 ».
    2 Sur Archive.org. Search : « 63 Acta sanctorum ».
    Yours sincerely

  13. Thank you for the fabulous resource. I am interested in working on English translations of Latin hymns that have none, bad ones, or very loose ones. If anyone here has some favorites, whether from the Acta or elsewhere, suggestions would be welcome, et posse mittantur ad vdicarlo in loco dicarlolaw iota com. I am especially looking for neglected gems in honor of our Lady, any Saint James, and our Lady’s mother, for which I would like to make translations for three of my grandchildren, who are named after them.

  14. Roger,
    Thanks for your work.
    The volumes from 47 thru 55 are also available at archive.org. I know because I just found them there. There are anomalies in their filenames (and there are two “55”s- parts 1 & 2). The “sanctorum” was shortened to “sanc” or even “san” on these.
    So everything from Vol. 1 thru Vol. 64 can be found at archive.org. just go to their search page and type (for instance) “acta sanctorum 47” into the search engine, and the desired volume will come up.

  15. Dave, thank you for this. I’ve added the link to vol. 63. I will look at the others and see what is there. Some volumes are misnumbered tho; searching for 64 brings up a volume for October. But the extra links will be welcome.

  16. Tonight I have revised the list considerably. I’ve now become aware of an “official” numbering from the Bollandists, and also add information about the various editions. I will do more on this soon.

  17. Dear Roger,

    first of all thank you so much for this very useful website which has helped me to no end over the past few years!

    Secondly, if anyone should be looking for a saint-related text in general, not only those published in the Acta Sanctorum, I would like to note that the Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity database (http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/), which will be finished at the end of 2018, will contain useful references to bibliography. It only covers material dated to approximately 300-700 AD, so if you’re looking for a later medieval composition it’s no help, but if you’re looking for a text presumably dating back to antiquity, all you need to do is search for the saint’s “saint card”, then see if there are relevant texts listed under his “evidence cards”.

    The reason I’m bringing this up is that you’ll usually find the latest and most up-to-date edition of the original text, which in some cases does remain that of e. g. the Acta Sanctorum or Migne’s Patrology, while in many other cases there is much more recent work available (and crucially much more reliable, being based as newer editions almost inevitably are on much more extensive manuscript material than the texts in the Acta Sanctorum or Migne’s Patrology, which often publish a text based on a single manuscript which may or may not be the best surviving one – this is important because saints’ lives, and especially the great mass of martyrdom accounts/Passions composed by anonymous authors, were in ancient and medieval times often liable to undergo heavy modification at the hands of scribes looking to adapt them to suit their particular needs).

    Cheers,
    Nick

Leave a Reply