Ever since I first heard about the Jubilee magazines, I have been anxious to see them. There were many reasons I was intrigued with the magazine: the name (I even named my dog, “Jubilee”), the connection to Merton and his college friends, the Catholic era in which it was published. Many of my older friends remembered the magazine with fondness - “I used to have a whole box of them” - but no one could seem to put their hands on one. I researched around and found that the libraries of many Catholic Universities had some of the magazines on hand, but I never seemed to be in the vicinity. Until now.
I find myself temporarily situated just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Every now and then I attend the noon Mass at St. Louis University – and finally it dawned on me that those magazines had to be in the University library.
Last week I approached the librarian at the University Library, asking if they had any copies of Jubilee – a Catholic magazine published in the 1950s.
“A magazine of the Church and her peoples?” she asked.
Her computer indicated that there were at least a few, maybe more, in the Lewis Annex. So she directed me to an elevator that I should take up to 2R, then exit the elevator from the back, cross the room, and take another elevator down to the 3rd floor. There I would find my magazines: BX801.J8
I easily made my way through the maze of books and, lo and behold, there they were,on the top shelf. The full set, from the very first issue – May 1953 – to the last – July 1968 – each year bound into an orange book. Fifteen years.
The photography was stunning. I assume that much (most?) of these are the work of the editor, Ed Rice. The magazine truly is “unique … because it is the first national picture magazine for a Catholic audience.” And though it is a national (American published) magazine, its scope appeared to be international, with many articles about the European Church.
The very first article of the first magazine was political, “The Church and Cold War”, with much discussion of “the heresy of Communism” (quoting Maritain).
The first edition also included an article about the men who worked New York City’s docks, the longshoremen, a poem by Robert Lax about the Cristiani Circus family, First Communion dresses that could be adapted for other occasions, an archeological story about the place in Turkey where Mary went with St. John after the Crucifixion, and 8 pages of frame-able woodcuts by artist, Walter Melmen. All for 35 cents.
Each issue contained a story for children about the adventures of Don Camillo, a young and ardent defender of the Faith. Large families are celebrated.
The art and tone changes in the later issues. Here are some photos that I took, mostly just randomly, of some of the pages.
I intend to go back to the St. Louis University library to read more of the Jubilee magazines. I'll probably have much more to say about them. Don't you love the name? (I wish I could identify and find that font.)