New York: Catholic Worker Books, 1949. First edition. Octavo (7 1/2 inches tall), staple-bound in original buff paper wrappers. Gentle edge-wear, discrete reinforcement to lower spine and rear wrapper, rounded chip to rear fore-edge, smaller chips to corners of bright and clean original paper wrappers. A splendid copy. Item #946
"I PRAY GOD TO BLESS THE BOOK AND YOU WHO READ IT" First edition of Dorothy Day's On Pilgrimage—the first publication of Catholic Worker Books—now scarce in the original illustrated paper wrappers. The Catholic Worker paper first appeared on May Day 1933 and Day's column quickly made her the focal point of the movement. "In On Pilgrimage she was the personable, chatty, and frequently eloquent Dorothy who ingratiated herself into the consciousness of Worker readers as she did with those who knew her face-to-face. In print she was as she was in real life" (William D. Miller). Editing the Catholic Worker represented a return to Day's journalistic roots and her column in the "paper also served as her diary. In the February 1946, issue, she began calling her column, 'On Pilgrimage,' explaining that 'we should always be thinking of ourselves as pilgrims anyway.' Her column by itself is a work of considerable literary significance" (Miller). On Pilgrimage presents readers with Dorothy's diary for the year 1948. Her brief Foreword explains: "So, dear God, let this book praise you, too, and all the works of my hands, whether it is bread baking or writing. It is a woman's book, for women, and I may repeat myself to be heard but mothers always do that to be heard."
The fiftieth anniversary edition of On Pilgrimage describes these collected columns as "an intimate look into Day's personal life as well as essential background for understanding the Catholic Worker movement, which she founded. In this book, Day writes about all facets of her life. Yet whether describing her visits to her daughter's farm or the writings of the saints, a common theme emerges, namely, the gifts of God's love and our need to respond to them with personal and social transformation" (On Pilgrimage, 1999). Located at 115 Mott Street, the newly inaugurated Catholic Worker Books issued On Pilgrimage as the imprint's first title. The back of the wrapper notes three additional 'Forthcoming Books' ('Deo Volente') to be published in 1949. "In bringing out On Pilgrimage, as she called it, from Catholic Worker Books, she hoped to earn some money for the movement...but she was doubtless motivated by literary ambition as well. Ten years had passed since From Union Square to Rome had come out. She was better known as an organizer and a pacifist then as an editor and a writer" (Paul Elie). Miller, Dorothy Day: A Biography. Elie, The Life You Save May be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage. Dorothy Day. On Pilgrimage (William B. Eerdmans Pub., 1999).