Spiritual Diary – Monthly Meditations on Twelve Virtues — Anonymously published in 1775 — this book swept through the Catholic world and multiple editions were published in quick succession. It remained readily available to generations of Catholics in many languages. The author remains unknown to this day. In a brief preface to the 4th edition of 1778 the following advice was given:
“To draw the utmost profit from this volume, mere reading will not suffice. It must be read with calm reflection, deep thought, and ardent desire to translate into action whatever is found to be beneficial to the individual soul.”
Without a doubt, the Spiritual Diary is one of the most widely read works in ascetical literature. Over the centuries, countless souls have drawn part of their spiritual formation from meditation upon the saintly advice contained in these pages. Its collections of sayings and examples of saints provides a source of meditation for numerous devout souls.
The meditations are arranged for the calendar year with one of twelves virtues for each month:
Under each virtue are gathered pertinent sayings and examples of the saints for every day of the month. A thought may be read daily, or the reader may prefer to read the different sections according to his spiritual needs.
Many have guessed that the writer was a devoteé of St. Alphonsus because of the pattern of the meditations and the numerous direct quotes from his writings. But other spiritual writers widely quoted are: St. Mary Magdalen diPazzi, St. Francis deSales, St. Vincent dePaul, and St. Theresa of Avila.