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Periodical Literature, Spain

Periodical Literature (Spain)

The periodical Press in Spain began to exist early in the history of that country. The "Enciclopedia Hispano-Americana", in the article "periodismo", mentions news publications as early as the time of Charles V; and "El Mundo de los periodicos", of 1898-99 (p. 945), gives 1661 as the date when the first periodical appeared in Spain. The publication of this kind of literature continued to develop in succeeding years until it reached a maximum in 1762, when fourteen periodicals were published; the number then diminished until, in 1780, it had sunk to two, increasing once more to fourteen in 1786. The publications of this period treated of political, commercial, and literary matters, though such a periodical as the "Apologista Universal", believed to have been edited by Fray Pedro de Centeno, denounced abuses and refuted errors.

The Catholic Press as we now have it did not exist until a later period, when the attacks of gallicizing Liberals and Voltaireans upon the Catholic Religion roused Catholics to defend the traditional doctrines. The liberty of the Press decreed by the Cortes of Cadiz, in 1812, resulted in a remarkable ebullition among Liberal writers, and in 1814 the number of periodicals amounted to twenty-three, while Father Alvarado, the Dominican, wrote his famous articles under the title "Cartas de un filósofo rancio" (Letters of a Soured Philosopher), against the new doctrines which the French Revolutionists had planted in Spain, and the nascent Liberal Press were striving to popularize. At this time, too (1813-15), Fray Agustin de Castro, the Hieronymite, edited "La Atalya de la Mancha" (The Watch-Tower of La Mancha). On 25 April, 1815, a decree of Ferdinand VII prohibited the publication of any periodical except "La Gaceta" and "El Diario de Madrid". But when the Constitution of 1820 proclaimed the liberty of the Press, the number of Liberal periodicals rose to sixty-five. Mesonero Romanos, in his "Recollections of a Septuagenarian" (Madrid, 1880), p. 453, speaking of this era in Spanish history, uses the expression: "the indiscreet attempt made by the political press in the turbulent constitutional period of 1820-23". No Catholic periodicals were published at this time, since, as the same author tells us (p. 232), "The Serviles and Absolutists maintained a complete silence as the only means of avoiding the attacks of the journalists". It must be borne in mind that the Catholics of that time were, as a general rule, Absolutists. In 1823 the king was again absolute, and once more he silenced the Press, which declined for a number of years, until the triumph of Liberalism during the regency of Doña Cristina gave it new life. The number of periodicals reached forty in 1837, and constantly increased thereafter.

Among the Catholic periodicals which appeared during the reign of Isabella II, may be mentioned the Carlist publications, "El Católico" and "La Esperanza", the latter founded by Pedro de la Hoz. "El Pensamiento de la nación" was edited by the famous philosopher Balmez, who had begun his career as a journalist with "La Civilización", published at Barcelona, in collaboration with Ferrer y Subirana, before leaving him to found "Sociedad". Navarro Villoslada was the editor of "El Pensamiento Español", and such distinguished writers as Gabino Tejado, Juan M. Orti y Lara, and Suarez Bravo were among its contributors. Candido Nocedal founded "La Constancia", a shortlived publication, in which the distinguished Catholic journalist and writer Ramón Nocedal made his first efforts. All these periodicals disappeared during the period of the Revolution. After the Revolution, and when the Carlist War had been brought to a conclusion, Candido Nocedal, having, with other moderate members of the Isabellist Party, joined the Carlists, founded "El Siglo Futuro" in 1874. Vicente de la Hoz, son of the former editor of "La Esperanza", founded "La Fé", and Suarez Bravo "El Fenix", which lasted only two years. Alejandro Pidal revived "La España Católica", which had existed before the Revolution. At Seville there appeared "El Diario de Sevilla", which will always be associated with the name of that illustrious writer Padre Francisco Mateos Gago. Upon the death of Candido Nocedal, who had been the leader of the Carlist Party since the end of the Civil War, differences arose between his son Ramón and the other chiefs of that party, which gave rise to the "Burgos Manifesto" of 1888. The Carlists separated from the Integrists, who were led by Ramón Nocedal. That same year, 1888, saw the first appearance of "El Correo Español", now (1910) the organ of Don Jaime's party. In 1897 "El Universo" was founded by Juan M. Orti, who, a few years earlier, had left the Intergist Party.

Forty-eight Catholic dailies are now published in Spain. They may be grouped as Integrist, Jaimist, and Independent. The first and second of these groups represent the two Traditionalist parties; the third is formed of those journals which maintain Catholic doctrines without adhering to any political party. Of the forty-eight, eleven are Integrist, eleven Jaimist, and the remainder Independent. The most important are "El Siglo Futuro", Integrist, founded in 1874, now edited by Manuel Senante, a member of the Cortes; "El Correo Español", Jaimist, founded in 1888, owned by the Duke of Madrid, edited by Rafael Morales; "El Universo", founded in 1899, owned by the Junta Social de Acción Católica, edited by Rufino Blanco (these three published at Madrid); "La Gaceta del Norte", founded in 1901, published at Bilbao, edited by José Becerra. The number of copies printed by these papers naturally varies with circumstances; it is safe to say, however, that on an average "El Siglo Futuro" prints 7000 copies; "El Correo Español", 18,000; "El Universo", 14,000; "La Gaceta del Norte", 12,000. Against this the anti-Catholic dailies publish: "El Pais", Socialist Republican, 18,000 copies; "El Heraldo de Madrid", 70,000; "El Liberal", 40,000. The Moderate periodicals — e. g., "A. B. C.", "La Correspondencia de España", and "La Epoca", the organ of the Conservative Party — have a large number of readers. The other Catholic periodicals are: 2 tri-monthly; 7 bi-weekly; 63 weekly; 5 published every ten days; 9 semi-monthly; 9 monthly. Of these 11 are Catholic-social; 9 Integrist; 19 Jaimist; the rest Independent. The illustrated papers worthy of mention among them are "La Lectura Dominical" (Sunday Reading), organ of the Apostolate of the Press, "El Iris de Paz", conducted by the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, at Madrid; "La Hormiga de Oro" (The Golden Ant), Catholic illustrated, Barcelona; "La Revista Popular", edited by Felix Saeda y Salvany, Barcelona. There are twenty-four semi-monthly and seventy-four monthly reviews published in Spain; twenty-eight of them deal with social questions, one is devoted to Spanish Sacred Music, four deal with ecclesiastical sciences in general, while the remainder handle religious and literary topics. About twelve of these are illustrated, the principal being: "La Ciudad de Dios", founded in 1881, a semi-monthly review conducted by the Augustinian Fathers of the Escorial, and including among its notable contributors the late Padre Camara, formerly Bishop of Salamanca; "Razón y Fe", founded in 1901, a monthly review published by the Jesuit Fathers at Madrid; "Revista de Estudios Franciscanos", founded 1907, published by the Capuchin Fathers at Sarria (Barcelona), and including among its most noteworthy contributors Padre Francisco Esplugas; "La Ciencia Tomista", bi-weekly, founded in March, 1910, published by the Dominican Fathers; "El Mensajero del Corazón de Jesus" (Messenger of the Sacred Heart), a monthly review, founded in 1869 by Father de la Ramière, and now edited by Padre Remigio Vilarino. (Padre Coloma, S.J., a member of the Academy of the Language, and celebrated as a novelist, has published in "El Mensajero" his most notable works.) "Revista Católica de Cuestiones Sociales", founded in 1895, at Madrid, organ of the general association of the "Dames de la buena prensa", edited by José Ignacio de Molina. "Revista Social Hispano-Americana", founded in 1902, semi-monthly publication of the "Acción Popular", Barcelona.

It is difficult to say anything with certainty as to the future of the Catholic Press in Spain, though there is reasonable ground for a hopeful view. The one thing evident is that, within the last few years, the number of Catholic publications in this country has considerably increased, and that an active propaganda is in progress in favour of the Catholic Press. Many Catholics, it seems, are awakening from their lethargy and are beginning to realize the necessity of using every possible means to counteract the pernicious effect of the evil press. The "Asociación de la Buena Prensa", organized with the approval of Cardinal Spinola, Archbishop of Seville, has already (1910) held two conferences. A Catholic agency has been formed to supply news to Catholic periodicals, and some of the new periodicals, such as "La Gaceta del Norte", give much information and are equipped with excellent typographic facilities.

Manuel del Propaganda (Seville, 1908); CASAS, Anuario de la prensa católica Hispano-Portuguesa (Orense, 1909); CRIADO, Las ordenes religiosas en el periodismo español (Madrid, 1907); PELAEZ, La importancia de la prensa (Barcelona, 1908); IDEM, La Cruzada de la Buena Prensa (Barcelona, 1908); DUESO, Escándalo, Escándalo (Madrid, 1907); La Agencia Católica de información (Saragossa, 1910).


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