Monday, May 21, 2012

Announcing "The Vatican Library of Cheap Catholic Books"!

In 1879, Hickey & Co., Publishers in New York, New York announced a REVOLUTION and REFORMATION in Catholic book publishing with the new series, "The Vatican Library of Cheap Catholic Books"! I bought an edition from Eighth Day Books here in Wichita this weekend as the bookstore celebrated its spring sale. When the series was published,  Most Rev. Thomas F. Hendricken, first Bishop of Providence, acclaimed the series, according to this advertisement, calling it a "splendid enterprise" that filled the "distressing need that exists in America for cheap Catholic literature". Hickey & Co., expected to sell 100,000 copies of these books in 1879, since even a "day-laborer" could afford them! In 1879, the Catholic population in the United States was over six million!

The first story in this edition (which is undated) is Tyborne by Mother Mary Magdalen Taylor, the former Frances Margaret Taylor who served with Florence Nightingale as a nurse in the Crimea. She became a Catholic after encountering the Sisters of Mercy. Back in England, she founded the Poor Servants of the Mother of God and served as its Superior. She published Blessed John Henry Newman's The Dream of Gerontius in The Month, a periodical she founded with the Society of Jesus in 1864. Mother Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart died on June 9, 1900 in London.


  1. Interesting. I picked up a copy of a book-length version of the story at the Tyburn Convent around eight years ago. They had a stash of "new" copies that had to be 60 years old.

    1. I can't wait to visit the Tyburn Convent this fall on the last day of the pilgrimage in London! I've had the Neumann Press hardcover for years, but I couldn't resist this "cheap" edition.