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Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano celebrates 160th anniversary

L'Osservatore Romano

Walter Cicchetti | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 07/05/21

Pope Francis said he reads it every day.

L’Osservatore Romano (The Vatican Observer) is celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2021. The daily Catholic newspaper, still one of the most influential in Italy, has served the Vatican through 12 papacies.

Founded on July 1, 1861, L’Osservatore Romano is just a few months younger than Italy. At its inception, the paper was meant to defend the Papal States’ actions and the Catholic faith. While the Vatican subsidized its printing at the beginning, the paper was purchased outright in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII. 

Throughout the 20th century, L’Osservatore Romano continued to provide insights into the attitudes of the Vatican on a wide range of subjects. From 1949 until 2007, the paper expanded and began printing in nine languages. To this day, they continue to publish in Italian, Spanish, English, French, Polish, Portuguese, German, and Malayalam. Of these, the English edition is the most read, as it is distributed in 129 countries. 

During World War II, L’Osservatore Romano became the only Italian publication to maintain its operation. This was much to the chagrin of Benito Mussolini, who threatened to shut it down, but he never could. Over the course of its illustrious 160-year lifespan, L’Osservatore Romano has only suspended printing three times. The most recent was in 2020, during the world pandemic. 

Pope Francis

At the Angelus of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis offered his gratitude for the paper. The pope made a point of noting that he never misses the daily newspaper.According to L’Osservatore Romano, the pope said: 

“I read it every day and, when it doesn’t come out on Sunday, I miss something. Even in Argentina — continues the Pontiff in the interview — I read the entire weekly Spanish language edition, because I know that it is a link with the Holy See, with the Magisterium and with the life of the Church, with the history of the Church.”

To celebrate the occasion, L’Osservatore Romano will release five “special” four-page inserts. Rather than take a sentimental look at their past work, the newspaper wants to look ahead. The “special” inserts will inaugurate a series of initiatives scheduled throughout the year. One of the questions the initiative seeks to answer is “How is journalism changing and how do we want it to be transformed?”

The anniversary inserts will work in tandem with a promotional campaign that will offer discounted subscriptions. One offer is a full year’s subscription for 20 euros.Visit the L’Osservatore Romano website to learn more

CatholicCOVID-19Pope FrancisVatican
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