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Bollandists(bŏl`əndĭsts), group of Jesuits in Belgium, named for their early leader, Jean Bolland, a Flemish Jesuit of the 17th cent. They were charged by the Holy See with compiling an authoritative edition of the lives of the saints, the monumental Acta sanctorum, which is still in progress.
a learned society of Jesuits engaged in publishing the lives of the saints.
The Bollandist society was founded in Antwerp by J. Bol-Iand (1596-I665). ln 1643, Bolland began to publish the collection The Lives of the Saints (Acta Sanctorum) according to the plan of H. Rosweyde. This work is of great importance as a historical source. Setting as their goal the strengthening of the positions of the Catholic Church, the Bollandists played an objectively important role in the development of the study of ancient manuscripts and diplomatics (especially from the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th century; for example, D. Papenbroeck, 1628–1714).
The Bollandists published an enormous number of manuscripts, which have been preserved in the libraries of many European countries. These manuscripts contain valuable material on the history, geography, everyday life, and spiritual culture of the Middle Ages. In addition to publishing the lives of the saints, the Bollandists publish catalogs of manuscript and hagiographic literature. The center of the society (reorganized in 1837) is located in Brussels.