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Jesuits, Anglicans, and new books

Jul 4th, 2021 • 6 min

Several new books have been added over the weekend, which are related to the history of English Catholic books.

As the book snippet How we should do Holy Reading was added, a good number of the books St. Francis de Sales recommended were linked to, being already present on this website.

But a few notable mentions were missing. Most lamentably, the Confessions of St. Augustine has no public domain English translation by any reputable Catholic.

However, the recommendation to read the lives of the first Jesuits is now possible through Immaculata Library, as the following books were added:

Combined with the following books, there is now sufficient reason to create a Jesuits category:

The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier was translated by Henry James Coleridge, who also translated the life and letters of St. Teresa of Avila, so that was added too. And as one encountered book mentioned the life of St. Rose of Lima, that was tracked down and added too.

When researching Henry James Coleridge, it turns out he was among those who converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism in the mid 19th century, along with St. John Henry Newman, Henry Edward Manning, Herbert Vaughan, and Frederick William Faber.

Immaculata Library has extremely strict guidelines on which books to include, and which to skip. Hours of research are poured into determining the religion of the authors, as well as translators, of each book. Some books unfortunately have to be skipped altogether.

The principle is that, if there is a small lake of absolutely pure water, and a large sea, which is contaminated to various degrees at different parts, the pure lake is by far the safer choice, even though it is much smaller. The same is true with Catholic books.

The only public domain Confessions translations into English are by Protestants and Anglicans, among whom is Dr. Pusey, who strongly objected to many Catholic doctrines and practices in his letter called Eirenicon. This letter received many replies, including from Henry Edward Manning’s pen and St. John Henry Newman’s, both defending Catholic positions.

Besides the Confessions, two books had to be skipped, “Some Letters of Saint Bernard” and “Life and Works of St. Bernard”, as they were translated by Samuel J. Eales, who was evidently an Anglican, as his name is credited as sometime Principle of St Boniface College, Warminster, an Anglican school.

A very real anti-Catholic contamination was prevalent in Anglican translations. In this site’s copy of St. Francis de Sales’s Letters to Persons in the World, on page xiv, the translator explains how another translation, made by the Anglican publisher Rivingtons, is “utterly untrustworthy”:

Here are a few examples, chosen at hazard, of the misrepresentations that abound in this volume. She makes St. Francis utter the absurdity and heresy that, “Even in good actions or in faults one should strive to remain passive” (p. 356). She translates “(Passages of Scripture) necessary for the establishment of the faith;” by “important for the confirmation of the faith” (186). Where he speaks of “that infame Rabelais,” she says simply “Rabelais.” So she omits the word “infallible” in a most important passage. She always omits the lists of spiritual authors given by St. Francis, and his teaching on many points of the spiritual life (such as the use of the discipline, devotion to the Saints, &c). She shortens at her own fancy; reducing, for instance, by two-thirds the last letter of Book III., on a rule of life, and liberty of spirit, which is perhaps the grandest of all the Saint’s letters.

In fact, this was one of the same exact issues that the aforementioned converts faced. Most Catholic books were not written originally in English for most of history. Up until the mid 19th century, any recent English translations of any Catholic book was most likely Anglican.

As England began to lift restrictions on Catholics, and as these new converts began to exercise their religious duties towards Catholicism, some of them began to either write English Catholic books, or translate Catholic books into English.

For example, Frederick William Faber—whom may be best known for composing the popular hymn, “Faith of our Fathers”, which is still regularly sung at Mass—wrote The Life of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits and The Blessed Sacrament, or The Works and Ways of God, and many other books.

Fr. F. W. Faber was among those who started a book series called “Saints and Servants of God,” authoring many books in it. This series was intended to provide English readers with stories of the lives of Saints, in a more natural English style than a mere translation could offer.

Herbert Vaughan became a Cardinal and wrote The Life and Labors of St. Thomas of Aquin. You’ll also notice his name, along with Henry Edward manning (who also wrote many books, 11 of which are in the books page), giving Imprimaturs to many of the books in Immaculata Library. And of course, St. John Henry Newman wrote many books too.

Enjoy the new books and newly organized sections, and may God bless you.