Today in Catholic History – The First Issue of L’Osservatore Romano is Published

On 1 July 1861, the first issue of L’Osservatore Romano or The Roman Observatory, the semi-official newspaper of the Holy See, was published.

The purpose of the paper was to support the power of the papacy in the face of threats to its temporal and spiritual authority. Indeed the name of the paper came from a pamphlet published by a traditionalist French Catholic group, though the Vatican initially wanted to call the paper L’ amico della verita or The Friend of Truth.

The stated aims of the paper were:
1 – to reveal and to refute the calumnies unleashed against Rome and the Roman Pontificate;
2 – to make known the most remarkable daily events occurring in Rome and elsewhere;
3 – to recall the firm principles of the Catholic religion and those of justice and the law, as the stable foundations of any kind of social existence;
4 – to educate on duties to the nation;
5 – to inspire and promote the veneration of the august Sovereign and Pontiff;
6 – to collect and illustrate all that deserves public attention in the arts, literature and sciences, and especially inventions and relative applications of achievements in the Pontifical States

The paper was deeply hostile to the movement of Italian unification being led by Piedmont-Sardinia and even after the armies of the Kingdom of Italy captured Rome in 1870, L’Osservatore Romano promised to remain faithful “to that unchangeable principle of religion and morals which recognizes as its sole depository and claimant the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth”.

Today, L’Osservatore Romano continues to present the news about and views of the Holy See to the wider world.

More on the history of the paper


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