If saints modelled their lives on that of Jesus Christ, then medieval Europeans modelled their lives on those of saints. Indeed, many monastic orders were founded in imitation of one saint or another. This is evidenced by the large number of medieval hagiographic works that have survived to the present, some of which belong among the finest specimens of illuminated manuscripts.
The life-story and deeds of a saint as a healer, visionary, and a generally holy person were recorded in so-called hagiographies or “Saints’ Lives” such as the Legenda Maior concerning St. Francis of Assisi. Other manuscripts like the Anjou Legendarium take a more encyclopedic form and cover a large number of saints in condensed form.
Illuminated manuscripts of these tales were commissioned to provide spiritual and moral inspiration to laymen or by monastic orders celebrating their founders and were produced from Late Antiquity through the invention of the printing press. They are a testament to the important role saints played in medieval Christian spirituality.