Banner Image

Rare Books Collection: Protestant-Catholic Relations

Mount Saint Mary's University rare books catalog



     The texts listed below deal with the relationship between the Catholic and Protestant faith with special focus on the United States. During the 19th century, Catholic immigrants faced resistance from Protestants regarding their faith and practices. To counteract these accusations, numerous Catholic writers and publishers took to the pen to provide a vigorous defense of the Church and its members. Some of the tracts listed below are both for and against the growth of the Catholic Church in America. Studying and understanding these texts can provide useful information on the difficulties which Catholics faced in early American society.




Arguments over Catholicism

Bonaparte, Charles Jerome.The Independence of the Holy See : a paper read at the First American Catholic Congress at Baltimore, November 11thl889 and The Catholic Church and American Institutions. An Address Delivered at the Centenary Festival of the Catholic Societies of the Archdiocese of Baltimore At Bay Ridge, July 11th, 1889. Baltimore, 1889.


Origins: These pamphlets are of unknown origin.




Material: This entry is a collection of two pamphlets, one a paper written for the First American Catholic Congress entitled The Independence of the Holy See and the other is The Catholic Church and American Institutions given at a Fourth of July celebration at Bay Ridge, Maryland. Both documents touch on themes important to the American Catholic Church in the late 19th century.


                Charles Bonaparte wrote The Independence of the Holy See in light of drastic changes to the Church in Europe. In 1871, the Papal States were seized by the recently formed Kingdom of Italy and the Pope’s territory was reduced to Vatican City. The status of the Pope’s independence had remained questionable when Bonaparte wrote his paper (the issue would not be settled until the 1920’s). Bonaparte stressed the importance of what an independent Catholic Church had accomplished in European society, relying upon examples such as the Church vs. State dispute between Pope Gregory the VII and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV which resulted in a separation of clergy from the control of European monarchs.

                The second document, The Catholic Church and American Institutions focused on the relationship between Catholicism and the American democratic system. Bonaparte argued that Catholicism and democracy were not at odds but rather complemented each other. His argument validated the beliefs of American Catholics that they could be active American citizens and loyal Catholic followers despite claims to the contrary made by Protestants and secular groups at the time.


                Both documents would be useful to American Catholic historians as ways of understanding how American Catholic writers and American Catholics in general saw their place in the changing American society.



Weaknesses: Both documents are written from a pro-Catholic perspective. The author may have omitted facts and examples which would have shown the Church in a negative light.


Call Number: BX 1810 .B698 1889    


Gallitzin, Demetrius. defence of Catholic Principles : in a letter to a Protestant minister in America. Richard Grace: Dublin, 1823.


Origins: This book is of an unknown origin. Though there is writing on the inside cover, it is illegible and the book itself is extremely fragile.


Material: This book is the defense of the Catholic teaching within the United States during the early 19th century. Demetrius Gallitzin, a Russian aristocrat turned Catholic priest, wrote this short book specifically to demystify Catholic principles and beliefs after a Protestant minister gave a speech warning that Catholics would bring a dangerous Papist rebellion against the United States of America. Gallitzin breaks down Catholic practices into different categories as a method of debunking prejudices against Catholicism. This book is useful to any Catholic or religious historian studying the Catholic-Protestants relations in the early 19th century.


Weaknesses: This book is fragile and must be handled with care.


For more reading on Gallitzin, please refer to Cambria County Catholicity: The Patrimony of Prince Gallitzin at call number: BX 1415 .P4 C35 1999.

Gother, John.The papist misrepresented and truly represented : or, a two-fold character of popery: The first containing a sum of the superstitions, idolatries, cruelties, treacheries, and wicked principles laid to their charge: The other laying open that religion which those termed Papists own and profess: The chief articles of their faith, and the principal grounds and reasons which attach them to it. Edward Dunigan and Brother; New York, 1800. Two Copies.


Origins: copy one of The Papist Misrepresented came to the Mount from Mount Carmel Library in Mechanicstown Maryland which is known today as Thurmont. Copy two came from unknown origin but does include E. Allen written into the cover page, implying that he or she donated the book to the Mount library. Copy two is older than copy 1 due to the type of advertisements in the back of the book.


Material: John Gother wrote The Papist Misrepresented as a method to lay out prejudices against the Catholic Faith and to establish a concrete understanding of Catholic doctrine for a general audience. Gother takes subjects such as the Catholic view of the Eucharist as the actual body of Christ rather than simply worshipping a piece of bread. He presented the negative view of Catholicism and then answered the negative view with Catholic doctrine. With this method, Gother attempted to clarify Catholic doctrine while also addressing the negative views the Protestants charged them with.

            Gother wrote his account during the 19th century, a period when Catholics faced prosecution in both the United States and Europe. In the United States Protestants did what they could to prevent Catholics from entering their nation and discriminated against Irish and Italian Catholics when they did arrive in the United States. The negative claims made against Catholics are the historical arguments of why Catholics would be dangerous in a democracy such as the United States. Any historian studying Catholic-Protestant relations could find it useful.


Weaknesses: Both books are old and fragile and should be handled with care. Gother has a pro-Catholic bias and is not as critical of Catholicism as some of the individuals he is answering. It is important to keep that in mind.

Kohlmann, Anthony.Unitarianism philosophically and theologically examined : in a series of periodical numbers; comprising a complete refutation of the leading principles of the Unitarian system. Henry Guegan: Washington City, 1821.


Origins: The book was previously owned by  a Mr. James Gale and has been in the Mount Saint Mary’s College Library’s since at least October 2nd, 1964.


Material: Anthony Kohlmann, a priest,  wrote this book as a way to challenge the practice of Unitarianism in the United States. Kohlmann began his argument by laying out the beliefs of Unitarians which he derived from an article by a J. Webster, a practicing Unitarian. After establishing Unitarian belief, he began each chapter with a question and description in which a Unitarian would claim a weakness of Christianity. Kohlmann then dissected the question and answered with philosophical and religious reasoning.

            Kohlmann wrote his case against Unitarianism during a period in American history known as the Second Great Awakening. During the Awakening religions such as Unitarianism, a religious belief founded upon the philosophical beliefs of the Enlightenment, were displaced by Protestant religions which returned belief back to the Bible rather than reasoning. Kohlmann’s book provides a Catholic refutation of Unitarianism in the middle of the Second Great Awakening and is a uniquely Catholic perspective on a fundamental shift in American cultural history.


Weaknesses: Kohlmann, as a Catholic priest, has a clear bias against Unitarianism and does not provide a balanced view of the two religions. Moreover, Kohlmann used an article to spell out the viewpoint of Unitarianism and does not seem to use many other Unitarian writings to provide the counter argument. A weak defense does not necessarily prove the superiority of Catholic teaching and practice. 

Call Number: BX 9847 .K7 1822

Milner, John.Vindication of the end of Religious Controversy. Eugene Cummisky; Philadelphia, 1825.

Origins: It is unclear when the book came into the Mount’s possession. The only writing in book that is legible is a Mt. Saint Mary’s Library stamp.

Material: John Milner wrote this book through a series of letters in defense of Catholicism against the claims that it was a heathen religion. Milner was a Catholic bishop who defended the Catholic Church and it’s teaching in England in the aftermath of the French Revolution.[1] A reader interested in understanding Vindication should also examine The End of Religious Controversy also by John Milner.

Weakness: This book is fragile and must be handled with care. Trying to read this book without consulting The End of Religious Controversy is not recommended.

[1] F.C. HusenbethLife of the Right Rev. John Milner D.D., James Duffy, Wellington; London, 1862) vi. 


O’Leary, Arthur. Miscellaneous Tracts. Samuel Walkers: New York,1821.





Origins: This book comes from unknown origins, though it seems to have been rebound by the Phillips Library at some point.



Material: This book contains letters and writings by Father Arthur O’Leary, an Irish Catholic priest living in the late 18th to early 19th century in Ireland. O’Leary was alive during a turbulent time in European history. The political writings of men like Thomas Paine and other Enlightenment thinkers brought forth questions about religious freedom and the relevance of religion. O’Leary stepped into this chaotic void and wrote on a variety of subjects from a defense of religious freedom and toleration to the divinity of Christ and the significance of religion. O Leary’s writings present the views and arguments of a Catholic priest in the midst of a volatile era. For most people, this period of history remains focused on the political and economic policies of kings and Jacobians, or supporters of democratic revolutions. O’Leary provides a unique view of an era.





Weaknesses: Given that these documents are written by an 18th century priest, there is naturally a Catholic bias to the writings which should be considered.



Call Number: BX1780.M678  O45 1821



Pierce, William. A review of the Lady Superior's reply to "Six months in a convent" : being a vindication of Miss Reed. William Pierce and Webster & Southard; Boston, 1835.



Origin: This pamphlet is unknown in origin. It is contained in a Manila envelope titled “A review of the Lady Superior’s Reply” and labeled by the Library of Congress classification system for the Theology section of the library.



Material: This account is a review of the Lady Superior’s response to Rebecca Reed’s Six Months in a Convent and compares the two accounts to study the consistency of each argument. The author in the end, sides with Rebecca Reed’s account and dismisses the Mother Superior’s argument.



Weakness: It would be a mistake to take this work at face value. The author concludes in the last several pages that Catholicism is ignorance and Americans (Protestants at least) must be on guard from the threat of Catholics. Despite the author claiming to remain unbiased during his investigation, he clearly is biased against Catholicism.  To get the full story, it is recommended examining Rebecca Reed’s Six months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charlestown, Mass., nearly six months, in the years 1831-2 and An Answer to Six Months in a Convent, Exposing its Falsehoods and Manifold Absurdities by Mary Anne Ursula Moffatt. Reed’s account can be found in the Phillips Library Rare Book Collection and Moffatt’s (Mother Superior) account can be found online. 

Call number: F 74 .C4 R36 1836



Reed, Rebecca Theresa. Six months in a convent, or, The narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, who was under the influence of the Roman Catholics about two years, and an inmate of the Ursuline Convent on Mount Benedict, Charlestown, Mass., nearly six months, in the years 1831-2. Russell, Odiorne & Metcalf; Boston, 1835.



Origin: It is not clear how the book came into the Mount’s ownership. There is a scribbled signature on the front page but it is illegible.



Material: Six Months in a Convent is about a Protestant named Rebecca Reed who converted to Catholicism and joined the Ursuline Convent in Massachusetts. She remained within the convent for six months until she escaped from the confines of the establishment. The introduction takes up half the book and presents an anti-Catholic stance. So while Rebecca Reed’s account should be taken with a grain of salt, the attitude by Reed should provide interesting insight into early American religious history.



Weaknesses: As previously stated, the author has an anti-Catholic bias, suggesting that some of the material that makes the Catholics look bad could be fabricated. A good idea is to read the Catholic response titled, An Answer to Six Months in a Convent, Exposing its Falsehoods and Manifold Absurdities by Mary Anne Ursula Moffatt and compare the two works to get both sides of the story. 



Books on Catholic America

© 2018 Mount St. Mary's University - Phillips Library
Library Home | Library Admin | Worldshare Admin | Mobile Site