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The Great Menology


The Great Menology was compiled under the supervision of Macarius, Archbishop of Novgorod and later Metropolitan of All Russia. This impressive compilation consisted of twelve volumes, one for each calendar month. It has survived in three versions, The Sophia Menology, compiled in the 1530s and early 1540s, and the Assumption and Tsar’s menologies of the early 1550s. Each volume contained the Lives of all the saints whose feast days came in that particular month and all the literature directly or indirectly linked with these saints. It was Macarius’ intention that The Great Menology should include not only Lives of the saints, but “all books of reading” (i.e., all books intended for reading) “that there are in the Russian land”. Alongside vitae, the codex drawn up by Macarius included works by Greek Church Fathers (patristics), religious polemical literature (for example, Joseph of Volokolamsk’s book against heretics, The Enlightener), religious rules and even such works as the Christian Topography (description of the world) by Cosmas Indicopleustes, the tale Barlaam and Josaphat, The Tale of Babylon, etc. Thus, The Great Menology was to cover all the works (apart from chronicles and chronographs) that were permitted reading in Old Russia. Each of its huge volumes (in folio) contains 1,000 printer’s quires. It is such an enormous work that, although publication of a scholarly edition began in the middle of the nineteenth century and continued up to the early twentieth, it has not yet been completed.3