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An association of ecclesiastical scholars engaged in editing the Acta Sanctorum and named after the editor of the first volume, John van Bolland (1596- 1665). The idea, however, did not originate with him but was first conceived by Heribert Rosweyde (1569-1629) who was professor of philosophy in the Jesuit College at Douai during the last years of the sixteenth century, yet devoted his leisure time to exploring the libraries and numerous monasteries scattered throughout Hainault and French Flanders. Bolland went further and made appeal to collaborators, either Jesuits or others, residing in all the different countries of Europe. Their aim was to produce a critical edition of the lives of the saints, based on authentic sources. Their researches led them to combat the Carmelite* tradition that the origin of their order went back to the prophet Elijah, who was regarded as its founder. The undertaking soon attracted others, among whom was Godfrey Henschen (1601-81), an invaluable contributor. The 1773 suppression of the Jesuits severely affected their work, which was not resumed fully until 1837.

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