In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

book reviews153 St. Paul contains a great deal ofvaluable historical information on the first years of a noteworthy American CathoUc newspaper. RORY T. CONLEY Wheaton, Maryland The Scalabrinians in North America (1887-1934). By Mary Elizabeth Brown. (NewYork: Center for Migration Studies. 1996. Pp. 414. $19.95.) The plight of the ItaUan immigrants was dire during the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of this present one. It mattered Uttle what their final destination was, since the vast majority of ItaUans fleeing their impoverished homeland were nearly destitute. Overtaxed, unemployed, bound to unproductive land, most were further overburdened by a government struggling to survive itsetf, foUowing the unification of the ItaUan peninsula into one geographic nation. For milUons, the only answer was emigration, and most dreamt of America.To the countries in North and South America, these needy throngs presented an often unwanted and unattractive sight. Poor and from the "lower classes," usually illiterate, unable to communicate except by means of local ItaUan dialects, they found themselves isolated from the mainstream of their adopted homeland and from each other because ofcultural and provincial rivahies.Tens of thousands entered a form of indentured servitude in payment for passage to the NewWorld,whUe thousands more joined the battalions of immigrants exploited as cheap laborers. There were few in Italy or in the Americas who were sufficiently concerned with the plight of these immigrants to actually initiate legislation to stem their flight, or extend assistance to reduce their suffering. Pope Leo XIII, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and her sisters, Bishop Geremia Bonomelli of Cremona, and American bishops like Michael Augustine Corrigan of New York, or Peter Paul Cahensly and his associates, were among the handful who were interested —and Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, Bishop of Piacenza. Here was a man of great virtue, faith, and compassion, who saw in his feUow countrymen and women Christ Himself. He knew himself to be their brother because of shared nationaUty and faith, and he urged Leo XIII and others to formulate the Church's assistance to these unfortunates in those terms. It is a happy stroke of Providence that this fine book by Mary EUzabeth Brown appeared just before the Church declared the Bishop of Piacenza Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini. Dr. Brown, with evident appreciation and thorough research, outlines the early years of Scalabrini's efforts to rouse the Church's attention to the plight of the Italian immigrants, and to establish what would become one of the most important organizations and effective reUgious congregations helping the immigrant, the Missionary Society of Saint Charles 154BOOK REVIEWS Borromeo. Known as the Scalabrini Fathers, this society was in the forefront of the Church's efforts to meet the spiritual and material needs of the ItaUan immigrants in the Americas. In the days when any immigrant was looked upon with scorn—by a society not much more different from today's, except in technology —Scalabrini moved the Church to reach out and defend, guide and protect these poorest of the poor, with great success. Covering a period from the inception of Sclabrini's immigrant work to 1887, Dr. Brown continues her study until 1934, when important internal changes in the Society were made. Her thirteen chapters each provide insight into the developing mission of the Scalabrinians, outLining their chaUenges faced and overcome, extoUing their successes,whUe not shying away from their early misfortunes.Two appendices, one with brief biographies of the persons mentioned in the text, and the other with profiles of Scalabrinian missions, round out the narrative. Dr. Brown also provides the reader with informative notes on archival and bibUographical sources, as weU as a very useful index. Dr. Brown's work is a "must" for aU interested in the work of the CathoUc Church for the ItaUan immigrants in the Americas. Stephen M. DiGiovanni St.John Fisher Seminary Residence Stamford, Connecticut An Unordinary Man: A Life ofFatherJohn LaFarge, SJ. By Robert A. Hecht. (Lanham, Maryland:The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1996. Pp. xii, 287. $67.50.) John LaFarge was the youngest of the seven surviving children of the nineteenth-century American artist John LaFarge (1835-1910) and of Margaret Perry, whose ancestors included Benjamin Franklin...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 153-154
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.