No. 26 (2023): Cromohs
The Destruction and Preservation of Hebrew Books

Choosing the Lesser Evil: The Holy Office, the Jews and Voltaire. Censorship Notes on La difesa de’ libri santi e della religione giudaica (Venice, 1770)

Miriam Benfatto
Università di Bologna

Published 2023-12-20


  • Catholic Censorship,
  • Holy Office,
  • Enlightenment,
  • Italian Jews,
  • Book Censorship


It is possible to uncover certain aspects of the Catholic Church’s attitude towards Jews, the Enlightenment and philosophical-cultural productions through case studies of Catholic control and censorship in the late eighteenth century. In this vein, an analysis of the censorship notes produced by the Roman Holy Office on the content of the book La difesa de’ libri santi e della religione giudaica, published in Venice in 1770, can be particularly useful. The original documents, currently held at the Archives for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office, Rome), shed light on the methods and approaches the Catholic Church adopted to control the circulation of new ideas in a century characterised by profound intellectual, cultural and political change.