Indonesia’s first Catholic publishing house marks its first hundred years

Founded in 1922 by the Jesuits, over the years PT Kanisius has published important works on theology and philosophy. The first book printed in Javanese was dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier. Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the company has had the opportunity to develop its online presence.

Jan 25, 2022

By Mathias Hariyadi

PT Kanisius, Indonesia's first Catholic publishing and printing house, celebrated its first one hundred years.

Currently led by Fr Azismardopo Subrotoe, the company, which is based in Yogyakarta (Central Java), recently released a video that looks at its history, and presented a new logo and theme: “Dreams and Works Colouring Indonesia”.

Founded in 1922, its original name was Canisius Drukkerij (Printing Company). According to its website, it began “with two machines and three employees”.

Before that, the Canisius Vereeniging (Canisius Society) was created in 1918 “by Dutch Jesuits in Muntilan,” also in Central Java, Paulus Widiantoro from PT Kanisius told AsiaNews.

“Fr J Hoeberechts legally set up Canisius Drukkerij in 1922. Printing work was carried out by Brother Bellinus FIC and his three assistants,” he added.

In 1928 Pope Pius XI gave his special blessing to the publishing house, saying: “Tell the whole territory of the East Indies that printed paper has always been one of the most effective and most powerful tools for carrying out our pastoral mission".

The first book published by Canisius Drukkerij was dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier, written by an anonymous author who signed himself "ADMG". The first missal in the Javanese language was published in 1928.

During the Second World War, the Japanese governor jailed Fr Bellinus. After the end of the Japanese occupation, the new Indonesian government handed over Canisius Drukkerij to Fr Djajasepoetra, later bishop of Jakarta from 1953 to 1970.

Canisius was also authorised to print the very first Indonesian banknotes.

Changing its name to PT Kanisius in 1968, the publishing house continued to publish texts of primary importance to the Indonesian Church and local cultural issues.

It published the first Latin-Indonesian dictionary as well as Philosophy of Human Beings by Fr Nicolaus Drijarkara, an important Indonesian Jesuit philosopher.

The COVID-19 pandemic provided the firm with the opportunity of developing its e-commerce branch and allow people to buy their books online.--Asia News

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