Last modified on August 4, 2019, at 16:41


The Douay-Rheims Bible was for centuries the official English language Bible for Catholics. It was a translation of the Latin Vulgate Bible and promoted Catholic doctrine. In 1568 English exiles, many of whom were from Oxford, established a new English College of Douay (Douai/Doway), Flanders. Their leader was William Allen, a future Cardinal. A decade later, in 1578, Gregory Martin began the first translation into modern English of the Bible for Catholic readers. In 1582, the college published the New Testament at Rheims (Reims/Rhemes), France.

In 1609 and 1610, an English translation of the Old Testament was published at Douay in two parts. Its elegance was hindered by strict adherence to the Latin Vulgate, as some Latin words were Anglicized for lack of an English equivalent.

A revised version by Dr. Richard Challoner in 1749 was more elegant, and it became the English standard for Catholics until the twentieth century. There were many improvements to this Bible in the 20th century. The Confraternity Bible which was widely used from 1941 to 1970 is a more modern translation of the New Testament together with the Challoner revision of the Douay-Rheims Old Testament.

A theological point of contention between the Douay-Rheims translation and Protestant translations is Genesis 3:15, and whether it is the woman (e.g., Mary) who strikes Satan or a man (e.g., Jesus) who strikes Satan.