The Golden Legend

The Golden Legend

[The book is considered the closest document to an encyclopedia of medieval Saints]

The Golden Legend or Legenda Aurea or Legenda sanctorum in Latin, compiled in 1259–1266, although this text has been subject to centuries of modifications, is a collection of 153 hagiographies by Jacobus de Vorazin, widely read in late medieval Europe, survived in more than a thousand manuscripts.

It was originally popularized under the well-known title Legenda S anctorum which translated to Reading of the Saints. It surpassed and overshadowed earlier collections of shorter tales;

The Abbreviatio in gestis et miraculis sanctorum attributed to the Dominican historian Jean de Mallie, and 

The Epilogus in gestis sanctorum of Trent by the Dominican preacher Bartholomew 1450 

When printing was invented in the 19th century, translations quickly appeared not only in Latin, but also in almost every major European language. Among the incunabula published before 1501, the Legenda aurea was printed in more editions than the Bible and was one of the most widely published books of the Middle Ages . While the book was popular largely, the book was so good it is known that the term "Golden Legend" was sometimes used to refer to any general collection of information about saints. 

It was one of the first books published in English by William Caxton; Caxton's edition appeared in 1483 and his version was reprinted, reaching the ninth edition in 1527. Written in plain and readable Latin, the book was read for the stories of its day. Each chapter focuses on a different saint or Christian celebration.