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Jacobus de Voragine

Church writer and archbishop

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 Jacobus de Voragine
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Jacobus de Voragine, also known as Jacobus a Voragine or 'Varagine', was born in Voragine, today's Varazze near Genoa, Italy, in 1230. In 1244 he entered the Dominican order and at the age of 22 became a professor. Jacobus de Voragine was an extraordinary and brilliant speaker and taught at various schools of the order and worked as an itinerant preacher.

From 1267 to 1278 and again from 1281 to 1286 he was a provincial of Lombardy and mediated in the conflict between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines on behalf of Pope Honorius IV. Two years later he he was elected archbishop of Genoa and took up office in 1292. On July 14, 1292 he was buried under the main altar of the Dominican church in Genoa.

He was the author of the Golden Legend, one of the most popular religious works of the Middle Ages, a collection of the legendary lives of the greater saints of the medieval church.

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The Golden Legend, an extensive collection of saints’ biographies, became one of the best-selling books of the late medieval period. By the 15th century, editions of Voragine’s Golden Legend were available in every major European language. This seven-volume edition, published in 1900, is F. S. Ellis’ modern update of a 1483 Middle English translation. While the latter six volumes contain brief biographies of the saints, this first volume records the history of major Old Testament figures as well as the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Together with these histories, Voragine details the establishment of the major Christian sacraments and holidays.

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The Golden Legend, an extensive collection of saints’ biographies, became one of the best-selling books of the late medieval period. By the 15th century, editions of Voragine’s Golden Legend were available in every major European language. This seven-volume edition, published in 1900, is F. S. Ellis’ modern update of a 1483 Middle English translation. The third volume contains brief biographies of St. Valentine, St. Patrick, and St. Ambrose among more than fifty others.

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