Catholic periodical literature of the nineteenth century

A specific Catholic periodical literature developed in the nineteenth century.


Up to a few decades before 1800, most of the periodical publications in mainly Catholic countries can be regarded as "Catholic" literature: the editorial line is implicitly Catholic.

Owen Chadwick argued strongly that the development of the press in the nineteenth century was in general terms a major factor in secularization. On the other hand, he states that "The Pope of 1889 was far more influential that the Pope of 1839 because the later Pope was surrounded by the press and the earlier Pope was not." ["The Secularization of the European Mind" (1975), citing from p. 41.]

Periodical literature includes the political newspaper, the weekly, and literary and specialized magazines and journals appearing less frequently. The "Catholic Encyclopedia" of 1913 offered an analysis in terms of several factors: in some countries such as Spain the implicit Catholicism persisted in the press for many years. The American-style, news-led paper would sell on its news content, rather than editorial line, and therefore Catholic newspapers could compete as dailies. European papers and weeklies relied more on the "feuilleton" and generally had more op-ed content. This meant they showed "greater animosity to the Church". [ [ "Catholic Encyclopedia" article "Catholic Periodical Literature"] ]

In England

The pioneer Catholic publication in England, "Andrews' Orthodox Journal", was first issued in 1812 by Eusebius Andrews, a Catholic printer and bookseller of London. It had just a few years of chequered existence, as there was not a sufficiently large reading public to make it self-supporting.

The real beginnings of Catholic periodical literature were made more than twenty years later, by which time the growth of the Catholic body in its new emancipation, the progress of Catholic education, and the interest excited by the Tractarian movement had combined to supply a wider circle of readers. Nicholas Wiseman and Daniel O'Connell founded a quarterly, the "Dublin Review" (1836). The fame of the "Edinburgh Review" suggested a territorial title, and Dublin was chosen as a Catholic centre; but from the first it was edited and published in London. The review was intended to provide a record of current thought for educated Catholics and at the same time to be an exponent of Catholic views to non-Catholic inquirers. Beginning before the first stirrings of the Oxford Movement, it presents a record of the intellectual life of the century and produced articles which had an immense influence upon the religious thought of the times. It was in August 1839 that an article by Wiseman on the Anglican Claim caught the attention of John Henry Newman. Impressed by the application of the words of St. Augustine, "securus judicat orbis terrarum", which interpreted and summed up the course of ecclesiastical history, he saw the theory of the Via media "absolutely pulverized" (Apologia, 116-7). I

Gradually the Tractarian converts appeared in the lists of contributors: Ward, Frederick Oakeley, Marshall, John Brande Morris, Christie, Henry Formby, Capes, Thomas William Allies, Anderson, Manning, and a glance through the volumes of the "Dublin' will reveal names prominent in the great religious, scientific, and literary movements of the century. During the sixties and the early seventies it was under the direction of Dr. W. G. Ward. After his retirement it was edited by John Cuthbert Hedley, afterwards Bishop of Newport, and then acquired by Cardinal Manning, who appointed Canon Moyes editor. It was the property and under the direction of Wilfrid Ward, son of its previous editor.

The first issue of the annual "Catholic Directory" appeared in 1837. Owing to the Oxford Movement, the forties were a time of marked literary activity. In 1840 two new enterprises were inaugurated. Mr. Dolman, a Catholic publisher in London who had issued a number of important books including the writings of John Lingard and Husenbeth, produced in "Dolman's Magazine" a high class literary monthly, and on 16 May, 1840, Frederick Lucas became the pioneer of the Catholic newspaper press in England by publishing the first number of "The Tablet", a weekly newspaper and review. Lucas regarded his work as founder and editor of a Catholic paper as a sacred mission. His uncompromising views led to difficulties with his financial supporters, but he emerged triumphant.

For awhile after the crisis of 1848 Lucas, then active in Irish politics, removed "The Tablet" office to Dublin, but it was brought back to London by the new proprietors, into whose hands it passed when failing health compelled Lucas to give up the editorship. For many years after his death, in 1855, "The Tablet" was a mere humdrum record of news. Among the distinguished editors was Cardinal Vaughan who conducted the "Tablet" during the stormy discussions on papal infallibility and the First Vatican Council. When he became Bishop of Salford, he placed the editorship in the hands of Elliot Ranken, who was succeeded by John George Snead-Cox. "The Tablet", under the terms of the trust created by Cardinal Vaughan, had its profits go to the support of St. Joseph's Missionary College, of which he was the founder.

Two other notable periodicals were founded in the forties. "The Tablet" was a sixpenny paper, reduced to five pence, on the abolition of the newspaper stamp duty. Its price put it beyond the reach of tens of thousands of Catholic workers. To supply them with a penny magazine Mr. Bradley in 1846 founded "The Lamp". It gave much of its space to Catholic fiction, descriptive articles, and the like, and ventured on an occasional illustration, a portrait or a picture of a new church; but it also supplied news and reported in full Wiseman's lectures and other notable Catholic utterances. For years it struggled with lack of capital, and for awhile Bradley edited his paper from his room in the debtors' prison at York. His name deserves honourable record as the pioneer of the popular Catholic Press. The other paper, "The Rambler", of which the first issue appeared on 1 January, 1848, was intended to be a review of literature, art, and science. In 1859, Lord Acton, who had then just returned from the Continent, succeeded Newman in the editorship. The price, sixpence, limited its public and in 1862 it became a quarterly under the title of "The Home and Foreign Review". In its last years this review was a source of trouble and disedification, and its sale, which dwindled yearly, was largely among Anglicans and other non-Catholics.

In the mid years of the nineteenth century the abolition of the various taxes on newspapers and the cheapening of the processes of production led to the coming of the penny newspapers. The first Catholic penny paper with permanent success was "The London Universe". Its origin was connected with the earlier activity of Lucas, who successfully advocated the introduction of the Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul into England. It was a group of members of the London Conferences who produced "The Universe". Speaking to their president, George Blount, one evening in 1860, Cardinal Wiseman, after alluding to the attacks in the Press against the Holy See, said: "Cannot the Society of St. Vincent de Paul do something to answer those frightful calumnies, by publishing truths, as M. Louis Veuillot is doing in Paris in 'L'Univers'? We want a penny paper, and now that the tax has been removed it should be possible." It was decided that, though the society, as such, could not found a newspaper, a committee of its members should undertake the task. It included George Blount, Stuart Knill (afterwards the first Catholic Lord Mayor of London), Viscount Fielding (Lord Denbigh), Viscount Campden (the convert Sir Charles George Noel, 2nd Earl of Gainsborough), Sidney Lescher, Archibald Dunn, Arthur à Beckett, and George J. Wigley, the London correspondent of the Paris "Univers". Wigley secured a foreign news service for the projected paper from Louis Veuillot's Paris office, and at his suggestion the name of "The Universe" was chosen. Denis Lane undertook the printing, Mr. Dunn the editorship, and on 8 December, 1860, the first Catholic penny paper in England was started.

At first it was strictly non-political. The editor and staff gave their services gratuitously, but even with this help expenses were greater than receipts. To attract a larger circulation political articles were inserted, which led to the resignation of the greater part of the staff. Mr. Lane then took over the paper and conducted it for many years as a Catholic paper, giving a general support to the Liberals and the Irish national cause. He had always a priest as "theological editor"; amongst those who thus assisted him were Father W. Eyre, S.J., Father Lockhart, and Cardinal Manning. The movement for the rescue of destitute Catholic children originated in "The Universe" office. It amalgamated with another paper, "The Catholic Weekly", founded to give a record of Catholic news without any party politics, thus reverting to its original programme.

"The Lamp" was reorganized about the same time and had for some years a prosperous existence as a popular magazine. Fathers Rawes and Caswall, Lady Georgiana Fullerton, Augusta Theodosia Drane, Cecilia Caddell were among its contributors. In 1864 Miss Taylor founded "The Month", at first an illustrated magazine giving much of its space to fiction and the lighter forms of literature. When she founded her first community of nuns (Poor Servants of the Mother of God), her magazine passed to the Jesuits, under the editorship of the Father Henry J. Coleridge. It had many notable contributors, and in its pages Newman's "Dream of Gerontius" first appeared.

Numerically, the main strength of English Catholicism has always been in the North, and after the foundation of "The Universe" several efforts were made to produce a Catholic penny paper in Lancashire. Three successive enterprises had a brief career. A fourth, a paper known as "The Northern Press" was barely existing, when, in 1867, it was taken over by Father James Nugent of Liverpool. He renamed it "The Catholic Times" and gradually made it the most widely circulated Catholic paper in England. Printed for many years by the boys of the refuge he had founded in Liverpool, when it became a profit-earning paper it helped support this work of charity. Offices were opened in Manchester and London. A special London edition was produced, and in 1878 a Christmas supplement issued under the title of "The Catholic Fireside" was so successful that it was continued as a monthly penny magazine; in 1893 it was made a weekly publication. "The Catholic Times" appealed largely to the Catholics of Irish descent in Great Britain, and championed the Irish Nationalist cause. P. L. Beazley directed it for many years.

In the sixties other papers were founded, for awhile fairly prosperous, though they never won the established position of "The Catholic Times" and "The Tablet". "The Weekly Register" was a threepenny paper, of much the same character as "The Tablet", but favouring the Liberals and Nationalists. Later, under the editorship of Charles Kent and then of Wilfrid Meynell, it had a marked literary quality,. "The Weekly Register" ceased to exist and with it "The Westminster Gazette", whose name is now that of a London evening paper. The "Westminster" was owned and edited by Pursell, afterwards biographer of Manning. During the months of newspaper controversy that preceded the definition of papal infallibility the "Westminster" was "non-opportunist", and Cardinal Vaughan, while he avoided all controversy on the subject in "The Tablet", contributed, week after week, letters to the "Westminster", combating its editorial views. It never had much circulation, and Vaughan was able a few years later to end its competition by buying and stopping it. Father Lockhart edited for some years "Catholic Opinion", a penny paper giving extracts from the Catholic press at home and abroad. After his death it was amalgamated with "The Catholic Times".

Charles Diamond, for some time a member of the Irish Parliamentary party, started in 1884 "The Irish Tribune" in Newcastle-on-Tyne. Shortly after, he purchased two other Catholic papers, the Glasgow "Observer" and the Preston "Catholic News", which were in difficulties for want of capital. He then formed the idea of working several papers from a common centre, much of the matter being common to all, but each appearing under a local title and having several columns of special matter of local interest. He issued the "Catholic Herald" from London, as the centre of the organization, and thirty-two other local weekly papers in various towns of England, Wales, and Scotland. He also produced on the same system ten different parish magazines and "The Catholic Home Journal", with which the old "Lamp" was amalgamated.

There were a considerable number of minor Catholic monthlies, mostly founded in recent years to advocate and promote special objects. The "Annals of the Propagation of the Faith" and "illustrated Catholic Missions" specialize on the news of the mission field. "Catholic Book Notes", a monthly issued by the Catholic Truth Society and edited by James Britten, was a record of current literature and reviews. "The Second Spring", edited by Father Philip Fletcher, was a record of the work of the Ransom League for the conversion of England. "The Crucible" was a monthly review of social work for Catholic women.

Devotional magazines were issued by various religious orders, the most widely circulated of which was the "Messenger of the Sacred Heart", edited by the Jesuits. There were also several college magazines. In general circulations were quite low. [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Periodical Literature, England ] ]

In Poland

The Polish Catholic press reflected the political conditions of the countries that had annexed the territory of Poland. In Galicia, part of Austria, it was free; in Russia and Germany there was censorship. There was a period of slow development, from 1831 to 1864.

One of the oldest publications in Galicia was the "Czas" (Time), daily, the organ of the Conservative party. Its publication began in 1848. In 1866 there appeared the "Przeglad polski" (Polish Review), which had from its beginning the collaboration of Count Stanislas Tarnowski and Stanislas Kozmian. The "Czas" and the "Przeglad polski" always maintained a strictly Catholic character. In 1867 Julius Starkla and Thaddeus Romanowicz established at Lemberg the "Dziennik Literacki" (Literary Journal), which had a short life; John Dobrzanski founded the "Gazeta Narodowa" (National Gazette), to which was united in 1869 the "Dziennik Polski" (Polish Journal). In 1871 Rev. Edward Podoiski established the "Przeglad lwowski" (Lemberg Review), which strenuously defended Catholic interests. In the same city there appeared the "Gazeta Lwowska" (Lemberg Gazette), the organ of the imperial viceroy in Galicia.

In 1884 the Polish Jesuits began at Cracow the publication of the "Przeglad powszechny" (Universal Review), covering scientific and literary points of view. In the same city there was published from 1881 to 1886 the "Przeglad literacki i artystyczny" (Literary and Artistic Review). In 1894 in the whole of Austria there were published 126 Polish periodicals and daily papers, of which 65 appeared at Lemberg and 29 at Cracow. At Lemberg the daily papers were the "Dziennik polski", the "Gazeta lwowska", the "Gazeta narodowa", the "Kurjer Lwowski", and the "Przeglad". There were two Catholic weeklies, the "Gazeta katolicka" and the "Tygodnik katolicki".

The "Gazeta koscielna" (Ecclesiastical Gazette), representative of the Catholic press, was a small semi-weekly, poor in doctrine and immersed in politics, From the scientific standpoint the most important periodical was the "Kwaltarnik hystoryczny" (Tri-monthly historical periodical), which began publication in 1886. Also important were the "Pamietniki literacki" (Literary Monuments), the "Ateneum polskie", the "Kosmos" (the organ of the society of naturalists of Lemberg), and the "Nasz kraj".

At Cracow, besides the "Czas", there are the "Nowa Reforma" and the "Glos narodu" (Voice of the People), an organ of the clergy and of the militant Catholic party. The Socialists published there the "Naprzód" (Forward), the official organ of their party, and the monthly periodical "Krytyka". In recent years there has been established the "Swiat Slowianski" (Slav World), the organ of the Slav club of Cracow, containing valuable information relating to the various Slav countries. The Academy of Sciences of Cracow published a "Bulletin international", monthly; and the "Rozprawy" (Dissertations) of mathematics, physics, and biology. Daily papers and periodicals were published also in the other Galician cities of Tarnów, Rzeszowo, Sambor, Stanislaw, Jarosław, and Przemyśl.

One of the oldest Polish daily papers in Prussia wass the "Dziennik poznanski" (Posen Journal), established in 1859. From 1845 to 1865 there appeared the "Przeglad poznanski", an ardent defender of Catholicism, edited by Rev. John Kozmian; in 1860 Rev. John Prusinowski published the "Tygodnik katolicki" (Illustrated Week). In 1865 Louis Rzepecki began the publication of the scientific periodical "Oswiata" (Culture), which, however, had only a short life, and was followed by the "Przeglad Wielkopolski" (Review of Great Poland), edited by Emilius Kierski. In 1870 Edmond Callier founded the "Tygodnik Wielkopolski", to which leading Polish writers contributed. The "Kurjer Poznanski", established by Theodor Zychlinski in 1872, also acquired great importance. In 1894 there were published in Prussia and in the Grand duchy of Posen the following daily papers: the "Dziennik poznanski", the "Goniec wielkopolski", the "Kurjer poznanski", the "Oredownik" (Advocate), and the "Wielkopolanin". The "Przeglad poznanski" resumed its publications under the direction of Wiadislaw Rabski, while other daily papers were published at Danzig, Thorn, Pelplin, and Allenstein.

In 1841 the publication of the "Biblioteka Warszawska", a monthly periodical dedicated especially to literature, began in Russian Poland. There were published in Warsaw the "Dzien" (Day); the "Dziennik powszechny" (Universal Journal); the "Glos Warszawski" (Voice of Warsaw); "Glos poranny" (Voice of Morning); the "Kurjer polski"; "Kurjer Warszawski"; "Nowa Gazeta"; "Przeglad poranny"; "Widomosci Codzienne" (Daily News); "Slovo" (Word), a Nationalist paper that had great influence; and the "Warszawska Gazeta". Other dailies were published at Lublin, Kiev ("Dziennik kijowski"), at Vilna ("Kurjer litewski" and "Goniec Wilenski"), at Łódź, and at St. Petersburg. Among the periodicals, besides the "Biblioteka Warszawska", were the "Biesiada literacka" (Literary Banquet), splendidly illustrated; the "Kultura", hostile to Catholicism; the "Przeglad filozoficzny" (Philosophical Review), a quarterly publication; the "Przeglad historyczny" (Historical Review), scientific, twice monthly; the "Swiat" (World), an illustrated weekly; and the "Tygodnik illustrowane". The Catholic press was represented by the "Przeglad katolicki", of Warsaw, a publication dedicated to politics. This paper was the one most read by the clergy. Count Roger Lubienski established the "Wiara" (Faith), a weekly devoted to ecclesiastical news; and these two publications were later united into one. A scientifically important periodical, the "Kwartalnik teologiczny", lasted only a few years. By the early twentieth century, of the daily papers or periodicals for the clergy, or having a strictly Catholic programme, those most read were: the "Polakkatolik"; the "Mysl katolicka", of Censtochowa; and the "Atheneum kaptanskie", of the seminary of Wloslawek, a monthly scientific publication.

In 1864 Polish exiles established the "Ojczyna" (Native Land) at Leipzig, the "Przyszlosc" (The Future) at Paris, and the "Przeglad powszechny" at Dresden. At Chicago, U.S.A., the chief centre of Polish emigration, were published the "Dziennik chicagoski", the "Dzienswiety" (Holy Day), the "Gazeta katolicka", the "Gazeta polska", the "Nowe Zycie" (New Life), the "Sztandar", "Tygodnik naukowo-powiesciowy", "Wiara i ojczyna", "Zgoda", and "Ziarno", a musical publication. Other papers were published at Milwaukee, Buffalo, N.Y., New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Winona, Cleveland, Ohio, Toledo, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Stevens Point, Manitowoc, Mahanoy City, and Wilkes-Barre. Brazil also had a Polish publication. [ [ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Periodical Literature, Poland ] ]


*LUCAS, The Life of Frederick Lucas, M. P. (London, 1886);
*SNEAD-COX, Life of Cardinal Vaughan (London, 1910);
*Gasquet, "Lord Acton and his Circle" (London, 1906);
*Wilfrid Philip Ward, "Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman" (London, 1897);
*____, "W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement" (London, 1889);
*____, "W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival" (London, 1893).


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