'Catholic Almanac' turns 100

The Catholic Almanac is marking its 100th anniversary this year with the publication of its 2004 edition.

Edited by “Our Sunday Visitor”, the Catholic Almanac has come a long way since its first issue in 1904, which featured 64 pages, including a calendar and articles on prayer and devotion. Then called St. Anthony’s Almanac, its primary purpose was to teach about the 13th-century Franciscan, St. Anthony of Padua.

It became more of a general-purpose Church almanac in 1931, when the editors decided to publish "a factual handbook of basic and current information on matters pertaining to the Catholic Church and its members."

Today, the almanac provides extensive facts and figures about the universal Church. It includes a lengthy history of Catholicism, information on each pope, biographies of U.S. bishops and cardinals, data on all U.S. dioceses, explanations of Church doctrine, a Catholic glossary, and contact information for Catholic colleges, universities, retreat houses and organizations.

The almanac has been under the editorial leadership of Dr. Matthew Bunson since 1998. He succeeded Fr. Felician Foy, who had been editor for 45 years.

In the 2004 edition, readers will be interested to learn that the U.S. Catholic population grew by more than 1.1 million people in 2003. Catholics now total 66,407,105, representing 22.8 percent of the U.S. population. In addition, more than one million babies were baptized in the U.S. and 449 priests were ordained last year. 

About 10,000 copies of the almanac are published annually. The 2004 issue sells for $24.95 USD.

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