Foreign Language Works

Unhappily for those readers whose knowledge of languages is limited to English, the best and most comprehensive reference works on the Church are still available only in other languages. This bibliography contains all the large, important works and many of the smaller or popular ones that are widely used, unique, or more up-to-date than similar works in English. These criteria have been applied to foreign works in the individual subject lists in subsequent chapters also.

Ranking very high, if not the highest, on the list of foreign countries producing the greatest number and the most scholarly Catholic reference works is France, where two of the largest series of Catholic encyclopedias in existence have been published. The first of these appeared in the nineteenth century under the direction of the prolific editor and controversial priest, Jacques Paul Migne (see Henri Leclercq "Migne," Dictionnaire d'archeologie chrétienne, 1. II, pt. 1, p. 942-57). After a disagreement with his bishop in 1825 over his pamphlet on "Liberté", he moved to Paris where he edited and wrote extensively for two periodicals and founded a printing establishment for the inexpensive production of theological works to encourage the scientific study of the sacred sciences by the clergy. Among the huge sets he edited and printed were a 28-volume commentary on the scriptures, 28 volumes on theology, 102 volumes on preaching and the 378-volume Greek and Latin patrologies (B169-B173). His Encyclopédie théologique (A122) was published in three different series from 1844-1873 and totals 170 volumes.

A series of disasters and controversies ended Migne's ambitious plans for raising the intellectual level of the French clergy. In 1868 a fire broke out in his printing plant destroying millions of francs' worth of plates; and in 1870 the Franco-Prussian War took its toll. Migne's career ended under suspension from his priestly duties by the Archbishop of Paris who was opposed to the more commercial aspects of the business which eventually grew to include the production and sale of religious articles; and under the displeasure of Rome, which condemned his practice of selling books for Mass stipends. In spite of all this he did manage to produce a "universal library for the Clergy" (1. P. Kirsch, "Migne," New Catholic Encyclopedia, IX, p. 827) of over 2,000 volumes, many of which are still the standard editions in their fields. His Imprimerie Catholique employed over 300 persons and developed many time- and money-saving typographical techniques.

The second of the monumental French works, known collectively as the Encyclopédie des sciences religieuses (A120), has been appearing regularly since 1907 under the direction of the Letouzey Firm of Paris, which also publishes a series of more popular Catholic reference works. Individual parts of the series are listed in various chapters of this work according to subject.

Germany has also produced a number of impressive general Catholic works along with its well known, but more strictly theological works, such as the Lexikon fur Theologie and Kirche (B192), not listed in this part of the bibliography. The chief producer of these works has been the House of Herder in Freiburg im Bresgau, founded in 1801 by Bartholomaus Herder (Franz Meister, "Herder," Catholic Encyclopedia, VII, p. 251-53). His son Karl Raphael Herder was responsible for beginning the two standard German Catholic reference works: the Kirchenlexikon (A127) and the Konversations Lexikon now called Der Grosse Herder (A123).

Moroni's Dizionario (A135) and the Enciclopedia cattolica (A131) are the chief Italian contributions to this field; the first is significant for its comprehensiveness and detail and the second for its scholarship and relative currentness.

The first volume of a large, important Polish Catholic encyclopedia (A139) appeared in 1973 and was well received by scholars. In 1982, volume 1 of the Enciclopedia de la Iglesia Catòlica en Mexico (A138) appeared. This handsomely produced work, projected in twelve volumes, has the distinction of being the most up-to-date, general Catholic encyclopedia.

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