Feast of Alban Butler (October 13)   1 comment

Above:  Father Alban Butler

Image in the Public Domain

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ALBAN BUTLER (OCTOBER 13, 1710-MAY 15, 1773)

English Roman Catholic Priest and Hagiographer

Father Alban Butler comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saint’s Days and Holy Days, via having been a hagiographer.

Butler was either the greatest hagiographer or one of the greatest hagiographers in the English-speaking Church.  He, born in Appletree, Northamptonshire, England, on October 13, 1710, was a son of Simon Butler (d. 1712).  Our young saint studied at the famous Dame Alice’s School, Fernyhalgh, Lancashire.  [Dame Alice was Dame Alice Harrison (1680-1765).]  Then Butler studied at the English College, Douai, France.  There he joined the ranks of priests in 1735.

Butler made such an impression as a student at the English College that he became a professor immediately after graduating.  He taught philosophy then theology.  While at Douai, our saint began the three decades of work required to complete his magnum opus, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, often abbreviated as The Lives of the Saints.  This was his only work published during his lifetime.   

Or was it?  Butler may have written A Short Account of the Life and Virtues of the Venerable and Religious Mother, Mary of the Holy Cross, Abbefs of the Englifh Poor Clares at Rouen; Who Died There in the Sweet Odour of Sanctity, March 21, Anno 1735 (1767).

Anyway, Lives has proven to be an influential work.  Subsequent writers have revised, condensed, and expanded this originally multi-volume work.  Links to one edition follow:

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September 
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Butler also assisted Richard Challoner (1691-1781) in Britannia Sancta, a hagiography of saints in British Isles.

In 1745 and 1746, Butler traveled in Europe.  He wrote about his journeys in the posthumously published Travels Through France and Italy, and Part of Austrian, French, and Dutch Netherlands During the Years 1745 and 1746 (1803).

Butler lived and worked in England, starting in the middle 1740s.  First, he was a missionary priest in the Midlands.  Later, our saint was acting chaplain to Edward Howard (1686-1777), the Duke of Norfolk.  Butler was a chaplain when he published the first edition (1756-1759) of The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints.

Butler became the President of the English College, Saint-Orme, France, in 1766.  He remained in that post until he died, on May 15, 1773.  Our saint was 62 years old.

The Moveable Feasts and Other Annual Observances of the Catholic Church (1774) debuted one year after our saint died.

Nephew and biographer Charles Butler (1750-1832) edited editions of our saint’s works, including volumes not published during the uncle’s lifetime.  One of these was Meditations and Discourses on the Sublime Truths and Important Duties of Christianity .

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God of Abraham, Elijah, Jesus, the Apostles, and all the saints,

thank you for the faithful work and enduring legacy of your servant, Alban Butler.

Whenever our faith flags, may we, emboldened by

the great cloud of witnesses that has preceded us in faith,

remember that we are not alone in our spiritual struggles,

and that many have endured far worse than we have.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 1

Revelation 6:9-11

Luke 24:44-49

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 1, 2021 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT GIUSEPPE GIROTTI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JOHN GRAY, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, MYTHOLOGIST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND PROFESSOR OF HEBREW AND SEMITIC LANGUAGES

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDOVICO PAVONI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS SYRAGIUS OF AUTUN AND ANARCHIUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINTS VALERY OF LEUCONE AND EUSTACE OF LUXEUIT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS

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One response to “Feast of Alban Butler (October 13)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Richard Challoner (September 30) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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