The first edition of Butler's Lives of the Saints was written by Alban Butler, an English priest and scholar, and appeared between 1756 and 1759.
Father Herbert Thurston, SJ., produced the Revised Edition of Butler's Lives which appeared in 12 volumes between 1926 and 1938, This edition was a major rewrite of the original Butler's, This was necessitated, be wrote, because Butler's style, it must be confessed, as judged by modern standards, is deplorably stilted and verbose.
Butler's became an immediate hit, in the tradition of the first edition, and held the field until the appearance of the second edition, in 1956. The work of an English layman, Donald Attwater, this edition eliminated what remained from the first edition-mostly pious homilies better suited to Butler's era, and some saints whose very existence was highly unlikely. Attwater also added more saints, however, which brought the total to 2,565, compared to Alban Butler's original 1,486.
It is Attwater's second edition which has been reissued by Christian Classics,"' and it makes great reading any time. . . . The underlying theme remains that of Christian love, a love willing to undergo great sacrifices for the sake of God and neighbor. Comparisons May be drawn with common inspirational literature, legends of mythical heroes, and skillfully written biography, The critic of literary styles sees woven together in Butler's many of the skills of the storyteller's craft, A theologian finds on every page living witness to the central truths of the Christian Faith.
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