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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.[1]  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    

[1] Davis, John Anthony. 2000. Italy in the Nineteenth Century : 1796-1900. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed March 25, 2018).


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 with a Protestant audience in mind. 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.


Material: John Gother wrote The Papist Misrepresented as a method to lay out prejudices against the Catholic Church and to establish a concrete understanding of Catholic doctrine for a general audience. Gother addresses a several aspects of Catholic teaching such as Transubstantiation. His format involves presenting the negative view of Catholicism and then answered the negative view with the correct Catholic doctrine. With this method, Gother attempted to clarify Catholic doctrine while also addressing the negative views non-Catholics shared of the Catholic faith.


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 critic 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. This book would be useful to anyone studying relation between different religions in the early 19th century.


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’s writings present the views and arguments of a Catholic priest in the beginning of the 19th century era specifically the relationship between religion and politics. 

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 issue over which the dispute arose dealt with an account of a young woman living in Boston who claimed that she had been held prisioner at a convent in Charlestown Massachusetts.The young woman's account was printed after a group of anti-Catholic rioters had burned down said convent in 1835. The author in the end, sides with Rebecca Reed’s account and dismisses the Mother Superior’s argument.


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 an account of a young woman named Rebecca Reed who claimed that she was held against her will while entered as a novice with the convent. Her account painted the nuns as evil and underhanded. Her actions in this regard helped fuel anti-Catholic hatred among the Bostonians which eventually led to the burning of the convent by a mob in 1834.[1] The official publication of her account came after the burning of the convent and joined a genre of books whose goal was to play on American Protestants’ fears of the growing Catholic Church in America.[2] While this book is historically and factually inaccurate, historians may find the volume useful in uncovering the fears which Protestants had of the Catholic Church and the convents in America.

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. 






[1] John Loughery, Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America, (Cornell University Press; Ithaca, 2018) 1424.

[2] Ibid. 1371.

Books on Catholic America

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