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The Venerable and Eminence
 John Henry Newman, C.O.
Cardinal Deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro

Portrait of John Henry Newman by John Everett Millais, 1881
Ordination 29 May 1825 (Anglican priest)
30 May 1847 (Catholic priest)
Created Cardinal 12 May 1879
Rank Cardinal deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro
Personal details
Born 21 February 1801
London, England
Died 11 August 1890 (aged 89)
Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
Buried The cemetery at the Oratory House, Rednal, near Birmingham, England
Nationality British
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Parents John Newman and Jemina Newman (née Foundrinier)
Beatified 22 January 1991
Beatified by Pope John Paul II

The Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O. (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890)[1] was a Roman Catholic priest and cardinal, a convert from Anglicanism in October 1845. In his early life, he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots.[1] Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. Both before and after becoming a Roman Catholic, he wrote influential books, including Via Media, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845), Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865–66) and the Grammar of Assent (1870).[1]

His body was buried in the small cemetery at Rednal near Birmingham, next to the Oratory country house. The grave was opened on 2 October 2008, with the intention of moving any remains to a tomb inside Birmingham Oratory, during Newman's consideration for sainthood; however, no remains were found because of the coffin having been wooden and the burial having taken place in a damp site. Canonization would make Cardinal Newman the first English person who has lived since the 17th century to be declared a saint.[2][3] In 1991 Cardinal Newman was proclaimed "Venerable" by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


At the age of seven Newman was sent to Great Ealing School conducted by Dr George Nicholas, at which George Huxley, father of T. H. Huxley, taught mathematics.[4] Newman was distinguished by diligence and good conduct, as also by a certain shyness and aloofness, taking no part in the school games. He spoke of having been "very superstitious" in these early years. He took great delight in reading the Bible, and also the novels of Walter Scott, then in course of publication. Later, he read some skeptical works by Paine, Hume, and perhaps Voltaire, and was for a time influenced by them. At the age of fifteen, during his last year at school, he was converted, an incident of which he wrote in his Apologia that it was "more certain than that I have hands or feet." It was in the autumn of 1816 that he thus "fell under the influence of a definite creed," and received into his intellect "impressions of dogma, which, through God's mercy, have never been effaced or obscured".[5] Saved from the ordeals of a public school, he enjoyed school life. Apart from his academic studies (in which he excelled), he acted in Latin plays, played the violin, won prizes for speeches, and edited periodicals, in which he wrote articles in the style of Joseph Addison.

Trinity College, Oxford

His happy childhood came to an abrupt end in March 1816 when the financial collapse after the Napoleonic Wars forced his father's bank to close. While his father tried unsuccessfully to manage a brewery at Alton, Hampshire, Newman stayed on at school through the summer holidays because of the family crisis. The period from the beginning of August to 21 December 1816, when the next term ended, Newman always regarded as the turning point of his life. Alone at school and shocked by the family disaster, he fell ill in August. Later he came to see it as one of the three great providential illnesses of his life, for it was in the autumn of 1816 that he underwent a religious conversion under the influence of one of the schoolmasters, Rev. Walter Mayers, who had himself shortly before been converted to a Calvinistic form of evangelicalism. Newman had had a conventional upbringing in an ordinary Church of England home, where the emphasis was on the Bible rather than dogmas or sacraments, and where any sort of evangelical "enthusiasm" would have been frowned upon.

The tone of his mind at this time became evangelical and Calvinist, and he held that the Pope was Antichrist. Matriculating at Trinity College, Oxford on 4 December 1816, he went into residence there in June the following year, and in 1818 he gained a scholarship of £60, tenable for nine years. But for this he would have been unable to remain at the university, as in 1819 his father's bank suspended payment. In that year his name was entered at Lincoln's Inn. Anxiety to do well in the final schools produced the opposite result; he broke down in the examination, and so graduated with third-class honours in 1821. Desiring to remain in Oxford, he took private pupils and read for a fellowship at Oriel, then "the acknowledged centre of Oxford intellectualism." To his intense relief and delight he was elected on 12 April 1822. Edward Bouverie Pusey was elected a fellow of the same society in 1823.

Anglican priest

J H Newman age 23 when he preached his first sermon.

On 13 June 1824, Newman was ordained deacon in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and ten days later he preached his first sermon in the little church Holy Trinity at Over Worton, near Banbury, Oxfordshire when on a visit to his former teacher, the Reverend Walter Mayers. On Trinity Sunday, 29 May 1825 he was ordained priest in Christ Church. He became, at Pusey's suggestion, curate of St Clement's, Oxford. Here, for two years, he was busily engaged in parochial work but also found time to write articles on Apollonius of Tyana, Cicero and Miracles for the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana. In 1825, at Richard Whately's request, he became vice-principal of St Alban Hall, but this post he held for one year only. To his association with Whately at this time he attributed much of his "mental improvement" and a partial conquest of his shyness. He assisted Whately in his popular work on logic, and from him he gained his first definite idea of the Christian Church. He broke with him in 1827 on the occasion of the re-election of Robert Peel as member of parliament for the University, Newman opposing this on personal grounds. In 1826 he became tutor of Oriel, and the same year Richard Hurrell Froude, described by Newman as "one of the acutest, cleverest and deepest men" he ever met, was elected fellow. The two formed a high ideal of the tutorial office as clerical and pastoral rather than secular. In 1827 he was a preacher at Whitehall.

Newman later wrote that the influences leading him in a religiously liberal direction were abruptly checked by his suffering first, at the end of 1827, a kind of nervous collapse brought on by overwork and family financial troubles, and then, at the beginning of 1828, the sudden death of his beloved youngest sister, Mary. There was also a crucial theological factor: his fascination since 1816 with the Fathers of the Church, whose works he began to read systematically in the long vacation of 1828. This he regarded as his second formative providential illness.

Oxford Movement

The year following, Newman supported and secured the election of Edward Hawkins as provost of Oriel in preference to John Keble, a choice which he later defended or apologized for as having in effect produced the Oxford Movement with all its consequences. In the same year he was appointed vicar of St Mary's, to which the chapel of Littlemore was attached, and Pusey was made Regius Professor of Hebrew.

At this date, though still nominally associated with the Evangelicals, Newman's views were gradually assuming a higher ecclesiastical tone and, while local secretary of the Church Missionary Society, he circulated an anonymous letter suggesting a method by which Churchmen might practically oust Nonconformists from all control of the society. This resulted in his being dismissed from the post, 8 March 1830; and three months later he withdrew from the Bible Society, thus completing his severance from the Low Church party. In 1831–1832 he was Select Preacher before the University. In 1832, his difference with Hawkins as to the "substantially religious nature" of a college tutorship became acute and he resigned from that post.

Mediterranean travels

In December he went with Hurrell Froude, on account of the latter's health, for a tour in South Europe. On board the mail steamship Hermes they visited Gibraltar, Malta and the Ionian Islands, and subsequently Sicily, Naples and Rome, where Newman made the acquaintance of Nicholas Wiseman. In a letter home he described Rome as "the most wonderful place on earth," but the Roman Catholic religion as "polytheistic, degrading and idolatrous." It was during the course of this tour that he wrote most of the short poems which a year later were printed in the Lyra Apostolica. From Rome, instead of accompanying the Froudes home in April, Newman returned to Sicily alone, and fell dangerously ill with gastric or typhoid fever (of which many were dying) at Leonforte. He recovered from it with the conviction that God still had work for him to do in England; he saw this as his third providential illness. In June 1833 he left Palermo for Marseille in an orange boat, which was becalmed in the Strait of Bonifacio, and here he wrote the verses, "Lead, kindly Light", which later became popular as a hymn.

Tracts for the Times

He was at home again in Oxford on 9 July, and on 14 July Keble preached at St Mary's an assize sermon on "National Apostasy," which Newman afterwards regarded as the inauguration of the Oxford Movement. In the words of Richard William Church, it was "Keble who inspired, Froude who gave the impetus and Newman who took up the work"; but the first organization of it was due to Hugh James Rose, editor of the British Magazine, who has been styled "the Cambridge originator of the Oxford Movement." It was in his rectory house at Hadleigh, Suffolk, that a meeting of High Church clergymen was held over 25–26 July (Newman was not present), at which it was resolved to fight for "the apostolical succession and the integrity of the Prayer-Book."

A few weeks later Newman started, apparently on his own initiative, the Tracts for the Times, from which the movement was subsequently named "Tractarian." Its aim was to secure for the Church of England a definite basis of doctrine and discipline, in case either of disestablishment or of a determination of High Churchmen to quit the establishment, an eventuality that was thought not impossible in view of the state's recent high-handed dealings with the sister established Church of Ireland. The teaching of the tracts was supplemented by Newman's Sunday afternoon sermons at St Mary's, the influence of which, especially over the junior members of the university, was increasingly marked during a period of eight years. In 1835 Pusey joined the movement, which, so far as concerned ritual observances, was later called "Puseyite"; and in 1836 its supporters secured further coherence by their united opposition to the appointment of Hampden as regius professor of divinity. His Bampton Lectures (in the preparation of which Blanco White had assisted him) were suspected of heresy, and this suspicion was accentuated by a pamphlet put forth by Newman, Elucidations of Dr Hampden's Theological Statements.

At this date Newman became editor of the British Critic, and he also gave courses of lectures in a side-chapel of St Mary's in defence of the via media ("middle way") of Anglicanism between Roman Catholicism and popular Protestantism.

His influence in Oxford was supreme about the year 1839 when, however, his study of the monophysite heresy first raised in his mind a doubt as to whether the Anglican position was really tenable on those principles of ecclesiastical authority which he had accepted. This doubt returned when he read, in Wiseman's article in the Dublin Review on "The Anglican Claim," the words of Augustine of Hippo against the Donatists, "securus judicat orbis terrarum" ("the verdict of the world is conclusive"), words which suggested a simpler authoritative rule than that of the teaching of antiquity. He said of his reaction,

For a mere sentence, the words of St Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before ..... they were like the 'Tolle, lege, — Tolle, lege,' of the child, which converted St Augustine himself. 'Securus judicat orbis terrarum!' By those great words of the ancient Father, interpreting and summing up the long and varied course of ecclesiastical history, the theology of the Via Media was absolutely pulverised. (Apologia, part 5)

He continued his work, however, as a High Anglican controversialist until he had published, in 1841, Tract 90, the last of the series, in which he put forth, as a kind of proof charge, to test the tenability of all Catholic doctrine within the Church of England, a detailed examination of the Thirty-Nine Articles, suggesting that their negations were not directed against the authorized creed of Roman Catholics, but only against popular errors and exaggerations.

This theory, though not altogether new, aroused much indignation in Oxford, and Archibald Campbell Tait (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury), with three other senior tutors, denounced it as "suggesting and opening a way by which men might violate their solemn engagements to the university." The alarm was shared by the heads of houses and by others in authority; and, at the request of the Bishop of Oxford, the publication of the Tracts came to an end.

Last years as an Anglican

John Henry Newman

At this date Newman also resigned the editorship of the British Critic, and was thenceforth, as he later described it, "on his deathbed as regards membership with the Anglican Church." He now considered the position of Anglicans to be similar to that of the semi-Arians in the Arian controversy; and the arrangement made at this time that a joint Anglican-Lutheran bishopric should be established in Jerusalem, the appointment to lie alternately with the British and Prussian governments, was to him further evidence that the Church of England was not apostolic.

In 1842 he withdrew to Littlemore, and lived under monastic conditions with a small band of followers, their life being one of great physical austerity as well as anxiety and suspense. There, he assigned the task to his disciples of writing of the lives of the English saints, while his time was largely devoted to the completion of an Essay on the development of Christian doctrine, by which principle he sought to reconcile himself to the more complex creed and the practical system of the Roman Catholic Church. In February 1843, he published, as an advertisement in the Oxford Conservative Journal, an anonymous but otherwise formal retractation of all the hard things he had said against Rome; in September, after the secession of one of the inmates of the house, he preached his last Anglican sermon at Littlemore and resigned the living of St Mary's.

Conversion to Roman Catholicism

An interval of two years elapsed before he was formally received into the Roman Catholic Church (9 October 1845) by Blessed Dominic Barberi, an Italian Passionist, at the College in Littlemore. In February 1846 he left Oxford for Oscott, where Bishop Wiseman, then vicar-apostolic of the Midland district, resided; and in October he proceeded to Rome, where he was ordained priest by Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni and given the degree of D.D. by Pope Pius IX. At the close of 1847 Newman returned to England as an Oratorian, and resided first at Maryvale (near Oscott); then at St Wilfrid's College, Cheadle; then at St Ann's, Alcester Street, Birmingham; and finally at Edgbaston, where spacious premises were built for the community, and where (except for four years in Ireland) he lived a secluded life for nearly forty years.

Statue outside the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, popularly known as Brompton Oratory, in London

The Oratory School was associated with this establishment and flourished as a well-known boy's boarding school, long renowned for its outstanding academic achievements, leading to its dubbing as 'The Catholic Eton'. Before the house at Edgbaston was occupied, Newman had established the London Oratory, with Father Frederick William Faber as its superior. At the London Oratory (in King William Street, Strand) he delivered a course of lectures (on "The Present Position of Catholics in England") in the fifth of which he protested against the anti-Catholic utterances of Giacinto Achilli, an ex-Dominican friar, whom he accused in detail of numerous acts of immorality.

Popular Protestant feeling ran very high at the time, partly in consequence of the recent re-establishment of a Catholic diocesan hierarchy by Pope Pius IX. Criminal proceedings against Newman for libel in the "Achilli trial" in 1852 resulted in an acknowledged gross miscarriage of justice. He was found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of £100, while his expenses as defendant amounted to about £14,000, a sum that was at once raised by public subscription, a surplus being spent on the purchase of a small property in Rednal, picturesquely situated on the Lickey Hills, with a chapel and cemetery, where Newman was eventually buried.

In 1854, at the request of the Irish bishops, Newman went to Dublin as rector of the newly established Catholic University of Ireland, now University College Dublin. It was during this time that he founded the Literary and Historical Society. However, practical organisation was not among his gifts, and so after four years he retired, the best outcome of his stay there being a volume of lectures entitled The Idea of a University, containing some of his most effective writing:

...the high protecting power of all knowledge and science, of fact and principle, of inquiry and discovery of experiment and speculation...

In 1858 he projected a branch house of the Oratory at Oxford; but this was opposed by Cardinal Henry Edward Manning and others as likely to induce Catholics to send their sons to that university, and the scheme was abandoned. When Catholics did begin to attend Oxford from the 1860s onwards, a Catholic club was formed, and in 1888 it was renamed the Oxford University Newman Society in recognition of Newman's efforts on behalf of Catholicism in that university city. The Oxford Oratory was eventually founded over 100 years later in 1993.

In 1859 Newman established, in connection with the Birmingham Oratory, a school for the education of the sons of gentlemen along lines similar to those of English public schools; this was a work in which he never ceased to take the greatest interest.

Newman had a special concern in the publisher Burns & Oates; the owner, James Burns, had published some of the Tractarians, and Burns had himself converted to Roman Catholicism in 1847. Newman published several books with the company, effectively saving it. There is even a story that Newman's novel Loss and Gain was written specifically to assist Burns.

In 1863 in a response to Thomas William Allies, while agreeing that slavery was bad, he could not condemn it as "intrisically evil" as it had been tolerated by St Paul—asserting that slavery is "a condition of life ordained by God in the same sense that other conditions of life are".[6]

Newman and Manning

The two great figures of the late nineteenth century Roman Catholic Church in England both became cardinals and both were former Anglican clergy. Yet there was little sympathy between them. Perhaps it was inevitable they should have been rivals, two luminaries in such a small world. But there was more.

Newman's desk in the Birmingham Oratory

Added to the natural rivalry of a St. Jerome and a St. Augustine, there was the lack of sympathy between a theologian and a practical pastor, between a scholar and a man of affairs. Newman's nature was, as seen above, somewhat delicate, while Cardinal Manning was an outdoorsman. One was a lifelong celibate who lived in the all male worlds of Oxford and a Catholic religious order, the other a widower of a much beloved wife. One was a university don, the other a champion of the working man.

It is impossible to place such labels as liberal and conservative on Newman and Manning. The very act of becoming Catholic in mid nineteenth century England caused them to be seen as arch-reactionaries in contemporary circles. But within the Catholic context, Newman is seen as theologically the more liberal because of his reservations about the declaration of papal infallibility. Manning favoured the formal declaration of the doctrine. However, it is Manning who has the more modern approach to social questions. Indeed, he may be seen as the great pioneer of modern Catholic teaching on social justice. He had a major role in shaping the famous encyclical of Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum. This makes him appear rather more 'left' than Newman.

Manning changed history. Without his new championing of social justice, many of the working people of Europe and America might have been lost to the Catholic Church. His credibility and popularity helped make the Catholic Church in England respectable and influential, after years of persecution. But Newman also changed history; by challenging the theological foundations of the Church of England, he caused many Anglicans to question their membership in that body. Quite a number became Roman Catholic.



Newman's personal coat of arms upon his elevation to the cardinalate. The Latin motto, "COR AD COR LOQVITVR", translates "heart speaks to heart".

All this time (since 1841) Newman had been under a cloud, so far as concerned the great mass of cultivated Englishmen, and he was now awaiting an opportunity to vindicate his career. In 1862 he began to prepare autobiographical and other memoranda for the purpose. The occasion came when, in January 1864, Charles Kingsley, reviewing J.A. Froude’s History of England in Macmillan’s Magazine, incidentally asserted that "Father Newman informs us that truth for its own sake need not be, and on the whole ought not to be, a virtue of the Roman clergy."

Edward Lowth Badeley, who had been a close legal adviser to Newman since the Achilli trial, encouraged him to make a robust rebuttal.[7] After some preliminary sparring between the two, Newman published a pamphlet, Mr Kingsley and Dr Newman: a Correspondence on the Question whether Dr Newman teaches that Truth is no Virtue, (published in 1864 and not reprinted until 1913). The pamphlet has been described as "unsurpassed in the English language for the vigour of its satire".[8] However, the anger displayed was later, in a letter to Sir William Cope, admitted to have been largely feigned. Subsequently, again encouraged by Badeley,[7] Newman published in bi-monthly parts his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, a religious autobiography of unsurpassed interest, the simple confidential tone of which "revolutionized the popular estimate of its author," establishing the strength and sincerity of the convictions which had led him into the Roman Catholic Church. Kingsley's accusation indeed, insofar as it concerned the Roman clergy generally, was not precisely dealt with; only a passing sentence, in an appendix on lying and equivocation, maintained that English Catholic priests are as truthful as English Catholic laymen; but of the author's own personal rectitude no room for doubt was left. Newman published a revision of the series of pamphlets in book form in 1865; in 1913 a combined critical edition, edited by Wilfrid Ward, was published.

Later years


Newman near the end of his life

In 1870 he put forth his Grammar of Assent, the most closely reasoned of his works, in which the case for religious belief is maintained by arguments differing somewhat from those commonly used by Roman Catholic theologians of the time; and in 1877, in the republication of his Anglican works, he added to the two volumes containing his defence of the via media, a long preface and numerous notes in which he criticised and replied to sundry anti-Catholic arguments of his own which were contained in the original issues. At the time of the First Vatican Council (1869–1870) he was known to be extremely hesitant about formally defining the doctrine of papal infallibility believing that the time was 'inopportune'.[9] In a private letter to his bishop (William Bernard Ullathorne), surreptitiously published, he denounced the "insolent and aggressive faction" that had pushed the matter forward.

However, Newman made no sign of disapproval when the doctrine was finally defined, although he was nevertheless an advocate of the "principle of minimising", that included very few papal declarations within the scope of infallibility [10] Subsequently, in a letter nominally addressed to the Duke of Norfolk when Gladstone accused the Roman Church of having "equally repudiated modern thought and ancient history," Newman affirmed that he had always believed in the doctrine, and had only feared the deterrent effect of its definition on conversions on account of acknowledged historical difficulties. In this letter, and especially in the postscript to the second edition, Newman finally silenced all cavillers as to his not being at ease within the Catholic Church. In 1878 his old college, to his great delight, elected him an honorary fellow, and he revisited Oxford after an interval of thirty-two years. On the same date Pope Pius IX died. Pius IX had long mistrusted Newman, but Pope Leo XIII was encouraged by the Duke of Norfolk and other distinguished Roman Catholic laymen to make Newman a cardinal. The distinction was a marked one, because he was neither a bishop nor resident in Rome. The offer was made in February 1879. Newman's elevation to cardinal took place on 12 May, making him Cardinal-Deacon of San Giorgio al Velabro. Newman took occasion while in Rome to insist on the lifelong consistency of his opposition to "liberalism in religion."

After an illness he returned to England, and thenceforward resided at the Oratory until his death, making occasional visits to London, and chiefly to his old friend, R. W. Church, Dean of St Paul's, who as proctor had vetoed the condemnation of Tract 90 in 1841. As a cardinal Newman published nothing beyond a preface to a work by A. W. Hutton on the Anglican Ministry (1879) and an article "On the Inspiration of Scripture" in The Nineteenth Century (February 1884).

From the latter half of 1886 Newman's health began to fail, and he celebrated Mass for the last time on Christmas day 1889. On 11 August 1890,[1] he died of pneumonia at the Birmingham Oratory. Eight days later, Cardinal Newman's body was buried in the cemetery at Rednal Hill, Birmingham, at the country house of the Oratory.

In accordance with his expressed wishes, Newman was buried in the grave of his lifelong friend, Ambrose St. John.[1] Previously, they had shared a house. The pall over the coffin bore his cardinal's motto Cor ad cor loquitur ("Heart speaks to heart").[1] Inseparable in death as in life, a joint memorial stone was erected for the two men; the inscription bore words Newman had chosen: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem ("Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth").[1]

On 27 February 1891, Cardinal Newman's estate was probated at £4,206 sterling.

Influence and legacy

Newman's influence as controversialist and preacher was enormous. He wrote his sermons out beforehand and read them aloud as he was not an extempore speaker. For the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, his conversion secured great prestige and the dissipation of many prejudices. Within it, his influence was mainly in the direction of a broader spirit and of a recognition of the important part played by development both in doctrine and in Church government. Although he never called himself a mystic, he showed that in his judgment, spiritual truth is apprehended by direct intuition, as an antecedent necessity to the professedly purely rational basis of Catholic belief. Within both the Anglican and Protestant churches, Newman's influence was great, but in a different direction, viz, in showing the necessity of dogma and the indispensableness of the austere, ascetic, chastened and graver side of the Christian religion.

If his teaching as to the Church was less widely followed, it was because of doubts as to the thoroughness of his knowledge of history and as to his freedom from bias as a critic. Some hundreds of clergymen, influenced by the movement of which for ten or twelve years he was the acknowledged leader, made their submission to the Holy See; but a larger number, who also came under its influence, did not accept that belief in the Church necessitated acceptance of the pope.

Newman's private chapel in his room

Newman held that, apart from an interior and unreasoned conviction, there is no cogent proof of the existence of God; and in Tract 85 he dealt with the difficulties of the Creed and of the canon of Scripture, with the apparent implication that they are insurmountable unless overridden by the authority of a Church guided by the Holy Spirit. In his own case, these views did not lead to scepticism, because he had always possessed the necessary interior conviction; and in writing Tract 85 his only doubt would have been where the true Church is to be found. Newman's view on this matter may amount to this: that the person who does not have this interior conviction has no choice but to remain an agnostic, while the person who does have the conviction is bound, sooner or later, to embrace not only Christianity but the Catholic faith.

He made no attempt, however, to widen the Oxford basis of learning, dated 1830, which remained his position, despite continual reading and study. The Scholastic theology, except on its Alexandrian side, he left untouched; there is none of it in his "Lectures", none in the Grammar of Assent.

He lamented the fall of Döllinger; but he could not acquiesce in the German idea by which, as it was in fact applied, the private judgment of historians overruled the Church's dogmas. Conscience to him was the inward revelation of God, Catholicism the outward and objective. This twofold force he opposed to the viewpoint of the agnostic, the rationalist, the mere worldling. However, he seems to have thought men premature who undertook a positive reconciliation between faith and science, or who attempted, by a vaster synthesis, to heal the period's conflicts with Rome. He left that duty to a later generation; and, though by the principle of development and the philosophy of concrete assent providing room for it, he did not contribute towards its fulfilment in detail.

The university he founded, the Catholic University of Ireland evolved into University College Dublin, Ireland's largest university which has contributed significantly to the intellectual and social development of that country.

Newman Centers (or Centres) in his honour have been established throughout the world, in the mould of the Oxford University Newman Society, to provide pastoral services and ministries to Catholics at non-Catholic universities.

Cause for his canonization

In 1991, Newman was proclaimed venerable after a thorough examination of his life and work by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. One miracle attributed to Newman's intercession must occur and be fully investigated and approved by the Vatican before he can be beatified. A second miracle would then be necessary for his canonization.

As a part of the process of investigation Newman's grave was opened to exhume his body, but his wooden coffin was found to have disintegrated and his body completely decayed.[11]


He was considered to be a man of magnetic personality, with an intense belief in the significance of his own career; and his character had strengths as well as weaknesses. As a poet he had inspiration and genuine power. Some of his short and earlier poems are described by R. H. Hutton as "unequalled for grandeur of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect"; while his latest and longest, The Dream of Gerontius, attempts to represent the unseen world along the same lines as Dante. His prose style, especially in his Catholic days, is fresh and vigorous, and is attractive to many who do not sympathise with his conclusions, from the apparent candour with which difficulties are admitted and grappled, while in his private correspondence there is a charm that places it in the forefront of that branch of English literature.

He was highly sensitive, self-conscious and impetuous. He had many of the gifts that go to make a first-rate journalist, for, "with all his love for and his profound study of antiquity, there was something about him that was conspicuously modern." Nevertheless, he had little knowledge of the scientific and critical writing composed between 1850–1890. There are a few passages in his writings in which he appears to sympathise with a broader theology, admitting that there was "something true and divinely revealed in every religion" Arians of the Fourth Century, 1.3 [12] He held that "freedom from symbols and articles is abstractedly the highest state of Christian communion," but was "the peculiar privilege of the primitive Church." (Ibid, 1.2 [13]

Even in 1877 he allowed that "in a religion that embraces large and separate classes of adherents there always is of necessity to a certain extent an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine." (Prophetical Office, preface to third edition)[14] These admissions, together with his thoughts on doctrinal development and assertion of the supremacy of conscience, led some critics to hold that, in spite of all his protestations, Newman was at heart a liberal. Newman explained to his own satisfaction the teachings of Catholicism, even holding the pope to be infallible in when declaring someone to be a saint; and while expressing his preference for English as compared with Italian devotional forms, he was one of the first to introduce Italian devotions into England. The motto that he adopted for use as a cardinal Cor ad cor loquitur (Heart speaks to heart), and that which he directed to be engraved on his memorial tablet at Edgbaston Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem (Out of shadows and phantasm into truth) disclose as much as can be disclosed of a life which, both to contemporaries and to later students, was seen as devout and inquiring, affectionate and yet self-restrained.


Newman's room

The sexuality of Newman and his circle has long been a subject for conjecture. Much of the evidence is ambiguous. Charles Kingsley’s famous attack on Newman in 1864, which spurred Newman to write his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, contains much of Kingley's sexualised language; this attack may be interpreted as a conflict over meanings of masculinity. Others wrote of Newman's lack of virility and his "characteristically feminine nature".[15] In Geoffrey Faber's Oxford Apostles (1933) he popularised the idea that the Oxford Movement contained a significant stream of homoeroticism.[16] He portrayed Newman as a sublimated homosexual with feminine characteristics.[16] The Oxford Movement attracted a number of fervent young men and produced intense friendships but in the self-contained male world of Oxford University, this was not surprising.[17]

Newman did not shun friendships with women, but there is no evidence that he was ever drawn to any form of sexual union. From the age of fifteen, he was convinced that it was the will of God that he should lead a single life. In Oxford he taught that celibacy was a high state of life, to which most people are unable to aspire. His deepest emotional relationships were with younger men who were his disciples. The most significant of these were Richard Hurrell Froude, who died in 1836, and Ambrose St John who lived with Newman as companion from 1843 for 32 years.[1][18] Ambrose St John preceded Newman into the Roman Catholic Church and became a member of the Birmingham Oratory, where he lived until his death in 1875.[19] Newman was profoundly affected by the loss of these friends, and wrote after the death of Ambrose St John in 1875: "I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's, but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine."[20] At his own request, Newman was buried in the same grave as Ambrose St John.[1] He had stated on three occasions his desire to be buried with his friend, including shortly before his death in 1890: "I wish, with all my heart, to be buried in Fr Ambrose St John's grave — and I give this as my last, my imperative will", he wrote, later adding: "This I confirm and insist on."[21]


Anglican period
  • Arians of the Fourth Century (1833)
  • Tracts for the Times (1833–1841)
  • British Critic (1836–1842)
  • On the Prophetical Office of the Church (1837)
  • Lectures on Justification (1838)
  • Parochial and Plain Sermons (1834–1843)
  • Select Treatises of St. Athanasius (1842, 1844)
  • Lives of the English Saints (1843–44)
  • Essays on Miracles (1826, 1843)
  • Oxford University Sermons (1843)
  • Sermons on Subjects of the Day (1843)
Catholic period
  • Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (1845)
  • Retractation of Anti-Catholic Statements (1845)
  • Loss and Gain (novel – 1848)
  • Faith and Prejudice and Other Sermons (various)
  • Discourses to Mixed Congregations (1849)
  • Difficulties of Anglicans (1850)
  • Present Position of Catholics in England (1851)
  • Idea of a University (1852 and 1858)
  • Cathedra Sempiterna (1852)
  • Callista (novel – 1855)
  • The Rambler (editor) (1859–1860)
  • Apologia Pro Vita Sua (autobiography– 1866, 1865)
  • Letter to Dr. Pusey (1865)
  • The Dream of Gerontius (1865)
  • An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870)
  • Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (various/1874)
  • Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (1875)
  • Five Letters (1875)
  • Sermon Notes (1849–1878)
  • Select Treatises of St. Athanasius (1881)
  • On the Inspiration of Scripture (1884)
  • Development of Religious Error (1885)
Other miscellaneous works
  • Addresses to Cardinal Newman and His Replies, with Biglietto Speech (1879)
  • Discussions and Arguments (various/1872)
  • Essays Critical and Historical (various/1871)
  • Historical Sketches (various/1872)
  • Historical Tracts of St. Athanasius (1843)
  • Tracts Theological and Ecclesiastical (various/1871)


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Arthur, James & Nicholls, Guy (2007). John Henry Newman: Continuum Library of Educational Thought. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-8407-7. 
  • Courtney, W. P. (2004) "Badeley, Edward Lowth (1803/4–1868)", rev. G. Martin Murphy, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 22 July 2007 (subscription required)
  • Faught, C. Brad (2003). The Oxford Movement: A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 978-02710-224-99.
  • Gilley, S. (2002). Newman and His Age. London: Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd. ISBN 0-232-52478-5. 
  • Martin, Brian (2000). John Henry Newman. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-4993-X. 
  • Lytton Strachey (1918). Eminent Victorians
  • Meriol Trevor (1962). Newman: The Pillar of the Cloud and Newman: Light in Winter (two-volume biography)
  • Bellasis, Edward. Cardinal Newman as a Musician at Project Gutenberg .

See also

  • The Literary and Historical Society, University College Dublin
  • Liberal education
  • Canonization of John Henry Newman
  • Newman inspired resistance


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "John Henry Newman", Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911.
  2. "Row over 'saint grave' security", BBC News, 16 January 2008
  3. BBC 4th October 2008: "No body in exhumed Newman's grave
  4. Cyril Bibby's T. H. Huxley: Scientist Extraordinary.
  5. Apologia, part 3
  6. John Noonan, 'A Church That Can and Cannot Change', 2005
  7. 7.0 7.1 Courtney (2004)
  8. [Anon.] (1911) "John Henry Newman" Encyclopædia Britannica
  9. John R. Connolly, John Henry Newman: A View of Catholic Faith for the New Millennium, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005; p10
  10. Newman, Letter to Duke of Norfolk, p. 120
  11. BBC report
  12. (Arians of the Fourth Century)
  13. [1])
  14. ([2])
  15. S. Gilley, Newman and his Age, London 1990.
  16. 16.0 16.1 G. Faber, Oxford Apostles: A Character Study of the Oxford Movement, London 1933.
  17. D. Hilliard, ‘UnEnglish and Unmanly: Anglo-Catholicism and Homosexuality’, Victorian Studies, 25, 2 (1982).
  18. J. H. Rigg, Oxford High Anglicanism and its Chief Leaders, London, 1895.
  19. I. Ker, John Henry Newman: A Biography, Oxford, 1988.
  20. Charles Dessain, The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman Volume IX: Littlemore and the Parting of Friends May 1842-October 1843, London
  21. Buried secrets: Cardinal Newman is set to become Britain's newest saint. First he must be exhumed from the grave he shares with another man - the greatest love of his life, Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail, 29 August 2008

External links



Newman Societies

Life and writings

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