“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often” –John Newman
John Henry Newman was born on this day in London, England in 1801. Today is the 212th anniversary of his birth.
Newman was the oldest of six children, three boys and three girls, born to John Newman and Jemima Fourdrinier Newman. He went to Trinity College, Oxford then attended Oriel College. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oriel in 1820 and became a fellow then tutor at the school.
He had held academic and pastoral assignments simultaneously for several years, serving first as both fellow of Oriel and curate of St. Clement’s and later as both tutor and vicar of St. Mary’s. He remained in his pastoral office until 1843, attracting hundreds of students, university officials, and townspeople to St. Mary’s [this church’s UK site] with his scholarly yet earnest preaching. [The Victorian Web]
He was a leader in the Oxford Movement — a “19th-century movement centred at the University of Oxford that sought a renewal of “catholic,” or Roman Catholic, thought and practice within the Church of England in opposition to the Protestant tendencies of the church.” [Encyclopedia Britannica] .
Newman…was the Movement’s primary spokesman, promoting its doctrinal and moral concerns through his editorship of the British Critic, his contributions to Tracts for the Times, and his weekly sermons at St. Mary’s. [The Victorian Web]
However, “In 1839, Newman began to lose confidence in the cause… and he soon became convinced that Rome, not Canterbury, was the home of the true Church.” [Ibid] He withdrew from Anglican life and left Oxford. He took back anti Catholic and anti Papal statements he’d said and written in his youth. In 1845 he converted to Catholicism and became a preist.
Newman worked just as energetically for the Catholic Church as he had for the Anglican. He was instrumental in the creation of the Catholic University of Ireland, and he wrote…
- Parochial and Plain Sermons (1868)
- The Idea of University (1852)
- An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870
- Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864)
The 1870s brought Newman special recognition for his work as both an Anglican and a Roman Catholic. In 1877 he became the first person elected to an honorary fellowship of Trinity College; two years later, Pope Leo XIII awarded him a place in the College of Cardinals.[The Victorian Web]
Cardinal Newman died of pneumonia in August of 1890.
He wrote the lyrics to the hymn Lead Kindly Light. Here’s the Wells Cathedral Choir singing the song…