Among the books which afford us an insight into he popular religious thought of the middle ages, none holds a more important place than the Legenda Aurea or Golden Legend. The book was compiled and put into form about the year 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, who laid under contribution for his purpose the Lives of the Fathers by S. Jerome, the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, and other books of a like kind; while for the lives of the saints more nearly approaching his own age he appears to have industriously collected such legends as he could meet with, whether in manuscript or handed down by oral tradition. All persons living in later times have been deeply indebted to the man who thus embodied for their benefit and instruction a picture of the mental attitude of the age in which he lived. If the study of it be not absolutely essential, it may safely be averred that it will be most helpful and profitable, to all those who care to realise to themselves the faith of their forefathers, and in no small degree will it enable them more fully to understand the inspiration of the men whose faith found its expression in the glories and mysteries of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture. To those who can pace the aisles of a great cathedral or priory or abbey church, or even tread the humbler stones of an ancient parish church, without being touched with a sense of reverent wonder, the pages of The Golden Legend will appeal in vain. Its perusal will strike no responsive chord in their hearts. But to those who, whatever may be their creed, never set foot in those stone-written records of the past without a feeling of awe and veneration, mingled with an earnest longing to understand something of the spirit which breathes forth from them, and a desire to know what it was that so wrought in the minds of their makers as to produce the Music Gallery at Exeter, the South Porch at Lincoln, the Galilee at Durham, the stained glass at York, the East Window at Wells, and a thousand other marvels, to say nothing of the greater glories that await us in the magnificent churches of France, which even after centuries of destruction, neglect, and ill-usage still impress us with wonder and admiration,--the histories of The Golden Legend will be a new revelation of inestimable value. The corbels of roof and cloister vaulting which look down on us with quaint and tender beauty, and the strange and sometimes monstrous or demoniacal gargoyles of the exteriors, will have a newer and fuller meaning if we allow ourselves thoroughly to enter into the spirit of the book before us.