Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Founder of the Catholic publishing house that bears his name, b. at Einsiedeln, Switzerland, 1762; d. there, 1841. In 1792 he started a small business in religious articles, but he soon felt the effects of the French Revolution . The French invasion forced him to take flight with his family, and for about a year they resided at Feldkirch, Austria, where his eldest son, Charles, was born. In 1800 they returned to Einsiedeln, which had been devastated by pillage and army requisitions. All Mr. Benziger's modest fortune was gone, but with redoubled efforts he set about repairing his losses, and started in business as a bookseller. He was made president of the county, and his credit and personal financial sacrifices proved of great help, especially during the famine of 1817. In 1833, Charles and Nicholas Benziger succeeded their father under the firm name of "Charles and Nicholas Benziger Brothers", and two years later, in addition to their book publishing business began the lithographing of religious pictures, as well as the coloring of them by hand, before the introduction of chromolithography.

Charles Benziger, son of the founder, b. 1799, d. 1873, a man of unusual strength and energy with a good classical education, devoted himself especially to the literary end of the business. In 1840 the "Einsiedler Kalender" was founded; it is still published and furnishes an interesting illustration of the development of the art of printing. "The Pilgrim", a popular Catholic periodical established at the same time, lasted only ten years. Charles, too, took an active part in public life, and showed moderation and energy as President of the Canton of Schwyz. His health failed and in 1860 he retired from business

Nicholas Benziger, brother of the preceding, b. 1808, d. 1864, who took charge of the technical part of the business, proved himself a pioneer, introducing to the mountain village of Einsiedeln a series of improved trades methods as they appeared from time to time in the great centres of Europe and America. Under his guidance the work of book-binding, which was formerly carried on in the family at home, was systematized. In 1844 the old hand-press was superseded by the first power press. Stereotyping was introduced in 1846; in 1856 steel and copper printing; and in 1858 electrotyping. In 1853, a house was opened in New York. By this time the two brothers had built up a business in Catholic books and prints that was known the world over. They also took an active part in charitable work, and started a fund for a hospital, which has since been erected.

On the retirement of Charles and Nicholas Benziger (1860) the business was continued by Charles, Martin, and J. N. Adelrich, sons of the former, and Nicholas, Adelrich, and Louis, sons of the latter. Under this third generation, the different branches of the house were still further developed, chromolithography and other modern printing methods being added. In 1867, the "Alte und Neue Welt", the first illustrated popular Catholic German magazine on a large scale, was begun, and then appeared a number of illustrated family books of devout reading and a series of school books, including a Bible history in twelve languages, together with prayer books by well-known authors. Between 1880 and 1895 a fourth generation succeeded to the business, and the firm name was changed to Benziger and Company

The house of Benziger Brothers in the United States was established in New York in 1853 by the Swiss house, but its development as a publishing house did not begin until 1860 when J. N. Adelrich Benziger (d. 1878) and Louis Benziger (d. 1896) took charge. In 1860, a house was opened in Cincinnati and in 1887 one in Chicago. The publishing of English Catholic books was vigorously undertaken, and today the catalogue covers the field of devotional, educational, and juvenile literature, besides works of a theological character. Since 1864 the firm has manufactured sacred vessels and church furniture. The American firm of Benziger Brothers is now independent of the Swiss house. The Holy See conferred on the firm the title "Printers to the Holy Apostolic See " in 1867, and "The Pontifical Institute of Christian Art" in 1888.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter