A society of Jesuit fathers named after John van Bolland (1596-1665), who founded it on the basis of a plan conceived by Heribert Rosweyde (1569-1629), who did not live to see it materialize. The plan called for the assembling and publication of a universal register of the lives of saints from all possible original sources. The outcome of the labors of successive generations of Bollandists was publication of a multivolume work entitled ACTA SANCTORUM (still in progress). The work of the Bollandists was suspended in 1773, when the Society of Jesus was suppressed in Belgium.
Their activities were resumed in 1837, when further supplements to the Acta sanctorum were published in the Analecta Bollandiana, a quarterly review devoted to hagiography and the lives of saints. It consists mainly of unpublished source material. The Bollandists’ work is arranged according to the saints’ days, and at present they have reached November.
H. Delehaye is one of the society’s most eminent editors. He is credited with sections entitled Martyr et confesseur (Analecta Bollandiana 39 ), Le calendrier d’Oxyrhynque pour l’année 535-36 (Analecta Bollandiana 48 ), Les martyrs d’Egypte (Analecta Bollandiana 40 ; also republished separately [Brussels, 1923]), La personalité historique de St. Paul de Thèbes (Analecta Bollandiana 44 ), and Une vie inédite de St. Jean l’aumonier (Analecta Bollandiana 46 ).
- Cross, F. L. “Bollandists.” In ODCC, p. 183.
- Delehaye, H. A travers trois siècles: L’oeuvre des Bollandistes, 1615-1915. Brussels, 1920. This appeared in English as The Work of the Bollandists Through Three Centuries. Princeton, 1922.
- Kammerer, W. A Coptic Bibliography. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1950; repr. New York, 1969.
- Peeters, P. L’oeuvre des Bollandistes. Académie royale de Belgique, Classe des lettres. Mémoires ser. 2, 39, fasc. 4. Brussels, 1942.
AZIZ S. ATIYA