The Second Spring.
The renewal of the Roman Catholic Church after the Reformation.
The Second Spring.
The renewal of the Roman Catholic Church after the Reformation.
Nicholas Wiseman and the first awakenings
Speaking to Moses from the burning bush God said, “I have indeed seen the misery
of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying for help on account of their
taskmasters. Yes, I am well aware of their sufferings….”
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years which is more than the Catholic
Church had suffered under the penal laws which had lasted for less than 300
years. Although the Egyptians had made slaves of the Israelites they had not
systematically put them to death as happened in the Reformation. So without a
“burning bush event” but in an answer to prayer God “heard the cries of His
Middle of the 18th Century.
For a starting point we go to Ireland, which at that time was part of the U.K.
The people of Ireland suffered greatly under the penal laws. At that time
England turned a blind eye if Catholics sent their children to schools in
France. In England the small Catholic remnant was no longer regarded as a menace
to constitutional authority. In Ireland things were more severe. Debarred from
owning land they were also not allowed to send their children to the Continent
for their education. The only way they could give their children a Catholic
education was for the whole family to emigrate.
James Wiseman, (Cardinal Wiseman’s grandfather) was in the cloth trade but due
to his RC faith was banned from trading in Ireland his native country. But he
had built up business relations with Spain so in the middle of the 18th century
he left his home town of Waterford and moved to Seville. James’ son married the
daughter of a Spanish general. On her death he married a Miss Xaviere Strange of
Aylwardstown Castle, County Kilkenny. Their son, Nicholas Wiseman, was born in
Seville in 1802 and on his father’s death his mother brought him back to
By that time the penal laws in Ireland had broken down which meant that Xaviere
Wiseman was able to send her son Nicholas to Ushaw College in Co. Durham.
Nevertheless there was resistance to change and the Catholic Relief Act of 1778
led to the General Gordon Riots. General Gordon, (not to be confused with
General Gordon of Khartoum), deeply resented tolerating Catholics in Protestant
England and led a crowd of 60,000 to the Houses of Parliament to present a
petition stating that the legislation encouraged ‘popery’. The riots didn’t stop
there but led on to include taxation, repressive laws and government pilfering.
It was possibly the closest England got to a Revolution to rival the French!
Having no regular police force King George III sent in the army to restore
Effects of the French Revolution.
The French Revolution was a watershed for the Catholic Church in England.
Religious Communities escaping from France came to England and from them many
Abbeys and colleges were formed including St Cuthbert’s at Ushaw, Stonyhurst and
Douai. An old student of Douai France was Mgr John O’Connor of ‘Father Brown’
A sign that things were changing was that King George III was friendly with two
influential recuscant Catholics, William Allison and Benedict of Lolworth, and
had stayed at their houses. (It was Benedict who had given Stonyhurst along with
25 acres of surrounding land to the Jesuits. He had been a student at their
college in Liege).
The English College in Rome.
Its history goes back to the time of the Saxons when it was a guest house for
pilgrims. In 1578 Pope Gregory III converted it into a college for seminarians.
During the French occupation in 1798 it was sacked and its inmates dispersed. It
remained unoccupied for 25 years with only an elderly caretaker in charge. After
Napoleon’s downfall efforts were made to restore it and arrangements were made
for a picked number of students to complete their ecclesiastical studies in
Rome. Among the six students chosen was Nicholas Wiseman. He had been sent to
Ushaw in 1810 at the age of eight and was now sixteen and had decided that his
vocation lay in the priesthood.
Nicholas was an excellent seminarian and graduated with a doctorate in theology.
From there on his rise in the hierarchy was meteoric. In 1827, at the age of
only 26, he was appointed vice-rector of the English College and a year later as
the rector. Due to his knowledge of Oriental manuscripts Pope Leo XII appointed
him curator of Arabic manuscripts in the Vatican and professor of Oriental
languages. He visited England in 1835-1836 delivering lectures on the principles
and main doctrines of Roman Catholicism. His lectures were reviewed critically
by John Henry Newman who was not yet a convert.
Bishop Thomas Walsh was vicar-apostolic of the English Central district and in
1840 Wiseman was consecrated Bishop and appointed coadjutor. On the accession of
Pope Pius IX Bishop Walsh was moved to be vicar-apostolic of the London District
with Wiseman continuing as his coadjutor until, on the death of Bishop Walsh in
February 1849, Wiseman’s appointment became permanent.
In July 1850 Wiseman heard of the Pope’s intention to create him a Cardinal and
took this to mean that he was to be permanently recalled to Rome. But on his
arrival in Rome he ascertained that a part of the pope’s plan was for restoring
a diocesan hierarchy in England and that Wiseman should return to England as
Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. The papal brief establishing the hierarchy
was dated 29th September 1850. Wiseman said, enthusiastically, if also
pompously, “Catholic England has been restored to its orbit in the
ecclesiastical firmament from which its light had long vanished.” This was a
bombastic tone for Protestant ears.
When he arrived back in England the whole community was ablaze with indignation
at the “papal aggression” which was interpreted to imply a new and unjustifiable
claim to territorial rule. Some feared that Wiseman’s life was endangered by the
violence of popular feeling. Wiseman remained calm and let it be known that the
purpose of establishing a diocese of Westminster was for him to care for the
poor Roman Catholics who lived there.
He presided at Oscott over the first Synod of Westminster at which Newman
preached his sermon on “The Second Spring”. Note: For a full copy of that sermon
go to page 13.
Wiseman was able to use considerable influence with English politicians, partly
because in his day, English Roman Catholics were wavering in their historical
allegiance to the Liberal Party. Therefore he was in a position to secure
concessions that bettered the position of Roman Catholics in regard to poor
schools, reformations and workhouses, and in the status of army chaplains.
In 1863 addressing a Roman Catholic Conference he stated that since 1830 the
number of priests in England had increased from 434 to 1242, and of convents of
women from 16 to 162, while there were 55 religious houses of men in 1863 and
none in 1830.
In 1857 Cardinal Wiseman encouraged the formation of Promotion of the Unity of
Christendom. It was way ahead of its time and later, unsure of the way it was
being organised, he condemned it and forbade Catholics from sending their sons
to Oxford or Cambridge though earlier he and Newman had hoped that at Oxford a
college or hall might be assigned to them. When Manning took over he secured a
decree from Rome forbidding Catholics to continue as members.
Wiseman’s last years were cheered by marks of general regard and admiration, in
which non-Roman Catholics joined in. After his death on the 16th February 1875
there was an extraordinary demonstration of popular respect as his body was
taken from St. Mary’s Moorfield, to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery at Kensal
Green. On the 30th January 1907 his remains were transferred to the crypt of the
newly completed Westminster Cathedral.
Daniel O’Connell and Catholic Emancipation.
He was born in County Kerry in 1775 to a once-wealthy Roman Catholic family that
had been dispossessed of its lands. Under the patronage of his wealthy bachelor
uncle Maurice O’Connell, he studied at Douai in France and in 1794 was admitted
as a barrister to Lincoln Inn and two years later transferred to Dublin’s Kings
Inns. In his early years he became acquainted with the pro-democracy radicals
and committed himself to bringing equal rights and religious tolerance to his
He became unsettled in his fight for tolerance when his allegiance to his
country came into conflict with allegiance to his faith. He had enrolled as a
volunteer in defence of Government. Yet that same Government was intensifying
its persecution of the Catholic people – of which he was one! He desired to
enter Parliament yet despite every allowance that Catholics had been led to
anticipate that was flatly vetoed.
As a law student he was aware of his talents but the higher ranks of the Bar
were closed to him. He studied the political history of Ireland and, according
to one of his biographers, he realised that “in Ireland the whole policy of the
Government was to repress the people and to maintain the ascendency of a
privileged and corrupt minority.”
On the 19th May 1798 he was called to the Irish Bar and became a barrister. Four
days later the United Irishmen staged their rebellion which was put down by the
British with great bloodshed. O’Connell did not support the rebellion; he
believed that the Irish would have to assert themselves politically rather than
He entered a period of law practice where he was reputed to have the largest
income of any Irish barrister. His growing family meant that he never had enough
funds to care for them and it was said that from the age of seventeen he was
always in debt. He was ambitious to become a judge and was attracted to the
position of Master of the Rolls in Ireland. Yet although he was offered it more
than once he finally refused.
In 1810 O’Connell established the Catholic Board which campaigned for Catholic
Emancipation, that is for Catholics to be able to become members of parliament.
In 1823 he set up the Catholic Association which embraced aims to improve the
lot of Irish Catholics such as, electoral reform, reform of the Church of
Ireland, tenants’ rights and economic development.
The Association was funded by membership dues of one penny per month, a minimum
amount designed to attract Catholic peasants. The subscription was highly
successful and the Association raised a large sum of money in the first year.
The money was used for Catholic Emancipation, specifically to fund
pro-emancipation members (MP’s) of parliament standing for the British House of
Members of the Association were liable to prosecution under an
eighteenth-century statute and the Crown moved to suppress the Association by a
series of prosecutions with mixed success. O’Connell was often briefed for the
defence, sometimes in front of the Attorney General for Ireland, William Saurin,
and showed extraordinary vigour in pleading the rights of Catholics to argue for
In 1815 a serious event in O’Connell’s life occurred. Dublin Corporation was
considered a stronghold of Protestant Ascendancy and O’Connell in a speech
referred to it as a “beggarly corporation.” Its members and leaders were
outraged and because O’Connell would not apologise one of their number, a noted
duellist John D’Esterre, challenged him to a duel. The British Government were
tense with excitement at the prospect that O’Connell would be killed. They
regarded O’Connell as a public nuisance and welcomed the prospect of seeing him
O’Connell won the duel and mortally wounded D’Esterre. O’Connell’s conscience
was bitterly upset by the fact that he had killed a man and had left D’Esterre’s
family destitute. He offered to share his income with D’Esterre’s widow but she
declined. However she consented to accept an allowance for her daughter which
O’Connell regularly paid for more than thirty years till his death. The memory
of the duel haunted him and he refused ever to fight again, being prepared to
risk accusations of cowardice rather than kill again.
Following O’Connell’s efforts by 1823 official opinion was gradually swinging
towards Emancipation so much so that the Attorney General, William Saurin, who
O’Connell had fought in court, was dismissed as a ‘bigoted opponent of religious
toleration’ and whom O’Connell had called “our mortal foe.”
In 1828 O’Connell stood in a by-election for the British House of Commons and
won the election. but was unable to take his seat as to do so he would have had
to take the Oath of Supremacy which was incompatible with Catholicism. The Prime
Minister, The Duke of Wellington and the Home Secretary Sir Roberts Peel, even
though they opposed Catholic participation in Parliament, saw that denying
O’Connell his seat would cause outrage and could lead to another rebellion or
uprising in Ireland which was about 85% Catholic.
Peel and Wellington managed to convince George IV of Catholic emancipation and
the right of Catholics and Presbyterians and members of other Christian faiths
to sit in Parliament. This became law in 1829. The ’law’ was not made
retrospective so O’Connell had to seek election again which he did and in
February 1830 was able to take his seat. At that time Catholics Henry John
Howard and the Duke of Norfolk had also benefited from the Emancipation Act and
were able to sit in Parliament.
“Wellington is the King of England”, King George IV complained, “O’Connell is
the King of Ireland, and I am only the Duke of Windsor.” The regal jest
expressed the general admiration for O’Connell at the height of his career.
The Catholic Emancipation campaign led by O’Connell served as the precedent and
model for the emancipation of British Jews.
O’Connell became involved with the Tithe Act which compelled those working on
land to pay ten per cent of the value of certain types of agricultural produce
for the upkeep of the clergy of the Protestant Church of Ireland. As the vast
majority were Roman Catholic they rebelled against this payment which was of no
value to them. In 1831 at Carrickshock in County Kilkenny there was serious
incident when a confrontation of Catholic peasantry and Irish Constabulary led
to seventeen deaths. O’Connell successfully defended the participants and all
In 1841 Daniel O’Connell became the first Roman Catholic Lord Mayor of Dublin
since the reign of King James II in 1685.
Kenelm Digby and Ambrose Phillips.
Now we go back in time from the last chapter. Early on Sunday mornings in1827
two young gentlemen could be seen riding together along twenty-five miles of
road from Cambridge to St Edmund’s College, Old Hall, Ware. They would be
fasting as they were on their way to Mass and Communion. They were both
converts. One was Kenelm Digby who came from strong Irish Protestant stock. On
visits to France he went into Catholic churches and was impressed with the
reverence, silence and the piety of the people. That eventually led him to
The other gentleman was Ambrose Phillips who also had a background of clerical
relationships. He also visited Catholic churches in France and initially found
their ceremonies laughable. His father wrote in his diary, ‘Ambrose laughed at
the walking up and down of the twelve priests in copes during the Magnificat’.
After some ‘mystical’ experiences he asked to be received into the Catholic
Church. This was a great shock to his father who quickly discovered that Ambrose
could not be discouraged from his conversion. It was at Trinity College where he
met Kenelm Digby which led to the two of them making their Sunday journey for
Soon after his conversion Ambrose met George Spencer and was instrumental in
helping George on his way to conversion.
George Spencer was born in 1799 and was born as The Hon. George Spencer his
father being the 2nd Earl Spencer. George was a great, great, great uncle of the
late Diana Princess of Wales. Winston Spencer-Churchill was a descendant of
As a child he lived at the family’s seat at Althorp and was tutored by a
governess and his mother. At the age of nine he was sent to Eton and fell under
the influence of a stalwart evangelical Anglican who introduced him to various
practices of piety and asceticism. At Christmas in 1814, not satisfied with the
education and evangelical influences of Eton, the Spencers removed him from
school. He had private education providing a more classical education and
preparing him for the sacrament of confirmation. In October 1817 he went to
Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied Divinity. In 1819 he left Cambridge
with a first class honours degree and set off with his parents on the ‘Grand
Tour’. Whilst enjoying the cultural aspect of the tour he was aghast at his
encounter with continental Catholicism.
Returning from Europe he undertook studies to prepare for ordination. He studied
classical languages and Hebrew. For two years he worked in a Sunday school and
was a Magistrate in Northampton. On the 13 June 1824 he was ordained a priest
and his father gave him the parish of Brington. He was totally committed to the
care of his parish and spent days visiting parishioners, the sick and the dying
and was often seen dispensing food, clothes and monies.
During his time at Brington he started to question his Anglican faith. He
struggled to find a basis in scripture for the 39 Articles, He started to read
writings of the early church fathers particularly Chrysostom and Gregory. He
gradually began to understand the difference between Catholic and Protestant
From 1827 he began to make the acquaintance of several Catholic priests who
encouraged him to continue with his reading. Finally, a meeting with Ambrose
Phillips, a recent English convert to Catholicism, set him on the road to
conversion. After several meetings with Ambrose and with a number of priests he
resigned his living in Brington and was received into the Catholic Church.
His father who, although shocked by his George’s conversion, was nevertheless
forgiving and made him a person allowance. This must have been a great comfort
to George who on resigning Brington said, “There goes £3,000 a year”!
In order to remove himself from the public eye and to lessen the blow to his
parents he went to Rome to study at the Venerable English College. Here he met
Nicholas Wiseman who tutored him on matters of Catholic tradition. He was also
given a priest to guide him in the detailed ceremony of celebrating Mass. That
priest was the Dominican Dominic Barberi.
As a boy Dominic had not had any regular education. He had been employed to take
care of sheep and when he grew older he did farm work. He learned to read from a
country lad of his own age. He was deeply religious and read all the books he
could obtain. Four Passionists moved into his area having been displaced
following Napoleon’s suppression of religious communities. Dominic received
instruction from them and served their daily Mass. He felt a clear desire to
join the Passionists but had to wait till they were re-established. During this
time he received an interior call which led him to believe that he should preach
the gospel in England. He was not put off by the fact that he knew nothing of
the language or of the country itself.
Initially he was accepted into the Congregation of the Passionists as a lay
brother to work in the kitchen and in the fields. But once his extraordinary
gifts were revealed he become a clerical novice. He was ordained a priest in
March 1818. After completing his regular course of studies he went to Rome where
he taught philosophy and theology. It was in Rome that he first met Ignatius
Spencer and Ambrose Phillips. This was to be the first step in the long journey
which eventually brought Dominic to England. While he was in Belgium he must
have cut a strange figure as the local bishop was so unimpressed by Dominic’s
poor peasant appearance that he subjected him to intense examination in moral
theology before allowing him to hear confessions!
It wasn’t until 1841 that he first came to England at the request of Bishop
Nicholas Wiseman who invited Dominic to make a Passionists foundation at Aston
Hall in England. Dominic received permission from the Passionists General and
arrived at Folkstone. J. Brodrick S.J. in his work on the Second Spring wrote:
“The second spring did not begin when Newman was converted nor when the
hierarchy was restored. It began on a bleak October day in 1841, when a little
Italian priest in comical attire shuffled down a ship’s gangway at Folkstone.”
After many months of waiting at Oscott College, Dominic finally secured
possession of Aston Hall and so in February 1842 he established the Passionists
in England. The reception of Dominic and his fellow Passionists was less than
welcoming. The local Catholics feared that the arrival of these newcomers would
cause renewed persecution. Dominic was also met with ridicule; his attempts to
read prayers in English, a language he did not understand, were met with
laughter. Eventually the community increased in numbers and the people grew to
know Dominic and became enamoured of him so that he soon began to receive a
steady stream of converts. Opposition to Dominic would occur on his journeys to
Mass centres when local youths would throw stones at him. Local Protestant
ministers often held non-Catholic lectures to ward the people away from Dominic
and the Catholics.
On the 10the June 1844 the first Corpus Christi procession was held in the
British Isles and Dominic began to visit other parishes and religious
communities in order to preach ‘missions’ as they were called. These missions
frequently took place in the industrial cities of northern England, such as
Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
In Octoner1845 Dominic visited Littlemore. He arrived soaked from the rain and
as he was drying himself by the fire Newman knelt, made his confession, and was
received into the Catholic Church.
The Oxford Movement,
While he was in Italy and Belgium Dominic had kept a keen interest in the Oxford
Movement and in his letter to University Professors at Oxford he describes his
hopes for the conversion of England and his belief that the men of Oxford would
be instrumental in such a conversion.
The Oxford Movement, also known as the Tractarian Movement after its publication
of ‘tracts for the times’, started in 1833 as a move towards a greater
understating of the Catholic faith and its liturgy. The men were high Anglicans,
often associated with the University of Oxford. They argued for the
reinstatement of lost Christian traditions of faith and their inclusion into
Anglican liturgy and theology. They conceived of the Anglican Church as one of
three branches of the Catholic Church: one Latin, one Orthodox and one Anglican.
The Oxford Movement was attacked for being a mere ‘Romanising’ tendency, but it
began to have an influence on the theory of Anglicanism and numerous Roman
Catholic practices were introduced into worship. This led to controversies
within churches that ended up in court.
Because Protestant Bishops refused to give livings to Tractarian priests, many
of them ended up working in the slums. This led them to an understanding of the
problems of a ‘just wage’, ‘system of property renting, ‘infant mortality’ and
‘industrial relations’. This had a significant influence on global Anglicanism.
The Oxford Movement influenced many Anglicans to become Roman Catholics. Among
them were John Henry Newman (former Anglican Priest and leader of the Oxford
Movement), Thomas William Allies (Church historian and former Anglican priest),
Edward Lowth Badeley (ecclesiastical lawyer), Robert Hugh Benson (son of the
Archbishop of Canterbury), Robert Stephen Hawker (who received Catholicism on
his deathbed), James Hope-Scott (poet and Anglican priest), Ronald Knox
(Biblical text translator and formerly Anglican priest), Henry Edward Manning
(later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster), Augustus Pugin (architect), William
George Ward (theologian) and Benjamin Williams Whitcher (American Episcopal
John Henry Newman.
He was born in February 1801. He was the eldest of a family of three sons and
three daughters. His father was a banker. His mother was descended from a family
of Huguenot refugees. At the age of seven he was sent to the Great Ealing School
where he took no part in the casual; school games. He was a great reader of the
novels of Walter Scott and of Robert Southey. Aged 14 he had probably moved on
His conversion to the Roman Catholic Church came in degrees. The first was when
he became an Evangelical Calvinist. At that time Newman indicated that he had
‘fallen 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’. At that time he held the typical Evangelical Calvinist view that the
Pope was Antichrist.
I cannot hope to explain Newman’s intense intellect or try to understand his
thought process. At that time an acquaintance described Newman as ‘one of the
acutest, cleverest and deepest man’ he had ever met. This is borne out by many
chapters of Newman’s ‘Second Spring’ sermon which to me are totally
unintelligible but were hopefully understood by the ecclesiastical academics
which were present on that historic occasion. Newman eventually moved away from
the Evangelical Calvinist beliefs and after a time at Trinity College Oxford he
became an Anglican and in May 1825 he was ordained a priest in Christ Church and
became a curate at St Clement’s Oxford where for two years he was engaged in
In December 1832 he accompanied a sick friend on a mail steam ship which
visited many Mediterranean island and finally Rome when he met Nicholas Wiseman.
In a letter home he described Rome as ‘the most wonderful place on earth’, but
the Roman Catholic Church as ‘polytheistic (belief in more than one God),
degrading and idolatrous’.
Newman was a High Anglican controversialist until 1841 when he published ‘Tract
90’. In it he was critical of the Thirty-Nine Articles which alarmed the
authorities at the University. At the request of the Bishop of Oxford the Tracts
came to an end. Newman now considered that the position of the Church of England
was not apostolic.
In 1842, along with a small band of followers, he retired to Littlemore outside
the city of Oxford where he set up a religious community. He called it ‘the
house of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Littlemore’ (now Newman College). This
‘Anglican monastery’ attracted publicity and much curiosity in Oxford which
Newman tried to downplay.
In February 1845 Newman published, as an advertisement in an Oxford Paper an
anonymous but otherwise formal retraction of all the hard things he had said
against Roman Catholicism. On the 25th September 1845 He preached his last
Anglican farewell sermon though he stayed at Littlemore for a further two years.
On the 9th October 1845 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church when he
made his confession to the Italian Passionist Dominic Barberi. The personal
consequences for Newman on his conversion were great; he suffered broken
relationships with family, friends and his previous colleagues at Oxford.
In 1846 he left Oxford for Oscott where Bishop Wiseman resided. In October he
went to Rome where he was ordained priest by Cardinal Branson and awarded the
degree of D.D by Pope Pius IX. He returned to England as an Oratorian and
eventually settled at Edgbaston where (except for four years in Ireland) he
lived a secluded life for nearly forty years.
On the 12th May 1879 Pope Leo XIII granted Newman the rank of Cardinal. Newman
accepted the gesture as a vindication of his work but asked that he should not
be consecrated as a Bishop and that he could continue to live in Birmingham.
In the latter half of 1886 his health started to fail and he offered his last
Mass on Christmas Day in 1889. He died of pneumonia on the 11th August 1890. He
was buried in the cemetery at Rednal Hill .Birmingham. He was 89. He was
Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on the 19th September 2010 during the Holy
Father’s visit to the UK.
William Bernard Ullathorne.
When I commenced this research I had heard of Wiseman, Manning, Barberi and
Newman but I had never previously heard of William Bernard Ullathorne. His
connection with Australia is of particular interest to me due to my work of
appealing for Rosaries and sending them to the Australian Aboriginals,
Researching Spencer, Barberi, Wiseman and Newman is easy as Dennis Gwynn’s book
has separate chapters on them. But Ullathorne does not have his own chapter and
is much more difficult to research. From the various mentions of him I will try
to piece together a history of this charismatic character. It was said of him
that he was a ‘blunt Yorkshireman’. We will have to bear that in mind as we
learn about him.
William Bernard Ullathorne was born in Pocklington Yorkshire on the 7th May
1806. He was the eldest seven children. His father was a linear descendant from
St Thomas More. His mother had a distant connection to Sir John Franklin the
Arctic explorer. William was ten years old when the family moved to Scarborough
and he made his first acquaintance with the sea. His adventurous spirit led him
to desire to be on the ocean and to see the world. For three and a half years
this wish was gratified and he made many voyages.
It was on one of those voyages that a chance opportunity of attending Mass at
Memel in the Baltic proved to be the turning point of his life. He then and
there made up his mind to devote himself to the service of God. On his return to
England, In February 1823, he entered as a novice of the well-known Benedictine
community of Downside and took the name of Bernard. He received the habit in
March 1824 and was ordained a priest in 1831.
In response to an invitation from the Vicar Apostolic of Mauritius Ullathorne
offered himself as a volunteer for the Australian Mission. His offer was
accepted and in view of the difficulty of governing a colony from such a
distance he was given full powers of vicar-general.
He landed in Australia in 1833 and his connection with the colony lasted eight
years. When he first landed there were only three priests in Australia. As there
was no kind of supervision they worked independently and there were internal
dissensions among Catholics as well as difficulties with the colonial
authorities. By his tact and strength of character Ullathorne soon dealt with
these problems and even visited the convict settlement on Norfolk Island which
is 800 miles off the East coast of Australia where his
ministrations to those condemned to death, as well as to others, had most
In 1835 Bishop Polding O.S.B. arrived with priests and students so Ullathorne
was able to return England to obtain further help for the mission. During his
stay he was called upon to give evidence before a Parliamentary Commission on
the evils of transportation.
In 1838 he once again set off for Australia accompanied by priests and nuns who
had offered themselves for the work. On landing he found himself in trouble from
those who thrived on the free labour provided by the convicts. Nevertheless his
views prevailed and in 1840 transportation was abolished.
Australia had been under the responsibility of the Benedictines since 1818 which
had resulted in Ullathorne’s mission. But he came to realise that the country
(which at time he called a ‘colony’) could never become ‘Benedictonized’ and
gave his intention to return to England. Bishop Polding, realising Ullathorne’s
clear business head, did all he could do dissuade him. He offered him the charge
of a new seminary and a bishopric. But Ullathorne was determined to leave. Prior
to leaving he organised a procession in Sydney which was the largest the city
had ever witnessed. By so doing he showed the Governor the number and unity of
the Catholics. He left Australia in 1840 never to return. His influence lived on
after him as in April 1842 due to his untiring work the Catholic hierarchy was
established in Australia.
On his return to England he went to a mission in Coventry where he used his
energy in building a handsome new church. In 1846 he was appointed Vicar
Apostolic of Western England. Using his experience in Australia he worked on the
reintroduction of the hierarchy in England which took place on the 29th
September 1850. Two years later he moved again to Central England where he was
to stay for the remaining forty-one years of his life.
After the reintroduction of the new English hierarchy Cardinal Wiseman became
the Archbishop of Westminster with Ullathorne being appointed Bishop of
Birmingham. He brought with him a housekeeper, Sister Margaret Hallahan, who was
a Dominican Tertiary. She was a tower of strength and over the years by her
labours founded convents, built three churches, established a hospital for
incurables and three orphanages as well as schools.
Bishop Ullathorne found the mission in a desolate condition. The chapel was very
small and in an appalling state of repair. But it did have a good schoolroom.
Ullathorne set himself the task of bringing back those who had lapsed and making
With Sister Margaret’s help the Bishop set about the building of a new church.
To raise money for his new Church he undertook begging tours in every likely
place. He wrote from London in 1840: “Hitherto begging has been pleasant enough:
I suppose I shall find its pleasures diminish as time goes on. He wrote from
London in 1840 with typical; Yorkshire bluntness: “I walk some twenty miles a
day on the London pavements without any excess fatigue, because I have no one to
talk balderdash to at the end of it.”
On the death of Cardinal Wiseman it was mooted that Bishop Ullathorne would take
over at Westminster but Pius IX overruled this choice and appointed Cardinal
Manning with Bishop Ullathorne staying at Birmingham. This did not worry
Ullathorne who had no ambition for higher office.
During his nearly four decades of tenure he built 62 churches, 32 convents, and
nearly 200 mission schools. In 1888 he retired to Oscott College and died on the
21st March 1889.
Henry Edward Manning
He was born at Totteridge, Hertfordshire on the 15th July 1808. He was the
youngest son of William and Mary Manning. His father was a Merchant in the West
Henry attended Harrow School but obtained no distinction apart from playing for
two years in the cricket eleven. However this proved to be no impediment to his
academic career. In 1827 he went to Balliol College Oxford and made his mark as
a debater and became president of the Oxford Union where he was succeeded by
William Ewart Gladstone with whom he remained friends and confidant up to the
time of his conversion.
He had ambitions for a political career but at that time his father had
sustained heavy losses so in 1830, to help the family finances, he took a
position in the Colonial Office. He resigned that post in 1832 having turned his
thoughts towards a clerical career.
Returning to Oxford he gained election as a fellow of Merton College and was
ordained a deacon in the Church of England. In January 1833 he became curate to
the rector of Lavington-with-Graffam in Sussex. In May of the same year, on the
death of the incumbent, he became rector of the parish.
In November 1833 he married the young and beautiful Caroline Sargent. Sadly in
1837 Caroline died of consumption. She was childless. When Manning died many
years later, for decades a celibate Roman Catholic cleric, a locket containing
his wife’s picture was found on a chain around his neck.
He was influenced by Henry Newman’s theology and from that time he assumed an
increasingly High Church character and publicly signalled his alliance with the
He went on pilgrimage to Rome where he had an audience with Pope Pius IX and was
greatly impressed by the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. At that time he
was convinced that the English Church was part of the Catholic Church. What
changed his mind and finally led him to conversion was a dispute in the Diocese
of Exeter when the Bishop refused to accept the nomination of a Mr. Gorman to
live in his parish as Vicar of Bramford Speke. The Bishop’s reason was that
Gorman repudiated his belief in baptism. The dispute went to the Privy Council
who after a long year’s suspense decided against the Bishop who was obliged to
grant Gorman the parish. Manning was appalled that a civil and secular court had
power over the Church of England.
In his letter of resignation to the Archdeacon he wrote ‘A theology of 300 years
is in conflict with a faith of 1800 years.’ In a letter to Gladstone he wrote,
‘I dare not say that my conscience will not submit itself to the Church which
has its circuits throughout the world and its centre by accident in Rome.’
In November 1850 he was already breaking the news to his brothers and sisters of
his impending conversion. The final decision came when he attended a service in
a little chapel off Buckingham Palace Road. His friend Gladstone was with him.
Just before Communion he turned to Gladstone and said “I can no longer take
Communion in the Church of England”. Manning rose up and laying his hand on Mr
Gladstone’s shoulder said “Come”. It was the parting of the ways. Mr Gladstone
remained, and I went on my way. Manning was received into the Church by Jesuit
Father Brownhill on Passion Sunday 6tth April 1851 and received Confirmation
from Cardinal Wiseman. On the 14th June he was ordained a priest. Such a rapid
advancement to the priesthood was without precedent and scandalised many older
Catholics. Rome approved Wiseman’s request for a special dispensation and
Manning offered his first Mass on the 16th June in the Jesuit Church of Farm
Given his great abilities he soon quickly rose to a position of influence and in
1865 was chosen as Archbishop of Westminster. Among his accomplishments as head
of the Catholic Church in England were the building of Westminster Cathedral and
a greatly expanded system of Roman Catholic education. He was instrumental in
settling the London Dock Strike of 1889. He was a strong supporter of the
doctrine of papal infallibility.
In 1875 he was consecrated by Bishop Bernard Ullathorne and was created The Most
Rev. Dr Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Lord Archbishop of Westminster. He
participated in the conclave that elevated Pope Leo XIII in 1878.
He died on the 14th January 1892 at the age of 83. Initially interned in a
Cemetery at Kensal Green, in 1907 his remains were transferred to the newly
completed Westminster Cathedral.
POPE FRANCIS 21ST CENTURY ‘SECOND SPRING’.
:Evangelii Gaudium’ clearly states his thinking. From the start of his
Pontificate Pope Francis has emphasised the debt we owe to the poor. In this
respect his ‘Apostolic Exhortation tells us:
God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself ‘became
poor’. The entire history of redemption is marked by the presence of the poor.
The economy and distribution of income. The need to resolve the structural
causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its
urgency for the good of society, but because society needs to be cured of a
sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to a new
Concern for the vulnerable. Jesus……identifies especially Concern for the
vulnerable. with the little ones. This reminds us Christians that we are called
to care for the vulnerable of the earth. But the current model, with its
emphasis on success and self reliance, does not appear to favour an investment
in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities
I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly
who are increasingly isolated and abandoned and many others. Migrants present a
particular challenge to me, since I am the pastor of a church without
I have always been distressed by the lot of those who are victims of various
kinds of human trafficking. How I wish all of us would hear the cry “Where is
your brother?” (Gen 4:9)
Among the vulnerable for who the church wishes to care with particular concern
are the unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays
efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do to them whatever one
Social dialogue as a contribution to peace. An attitude of openness in truth and
in love must characterize the dialogue with the followers of non-Christian
Starting from certain social issues of great importance for the future of
humanity, I have tried to make explicit once again the inescapable social
dimension of the Gospel message and to encourage all Christians to demonstrate
it by their words, attitudes and deeds.
Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment. In our time humanity is experiencing a
turning-point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so
many fields. We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s
welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications. At the same
time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporise are barely living
from day to day, with dire consequences. A number of diseases are spreading. The
hearts of many people are gripped with fear and desperation even in the
so-called rich countries.
No to an economy of exclusion. Just as the commandment “Thou Shalt not Kill”
sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also
have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an
economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless
person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?
Meanwhile the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes
others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalisation of
indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being
incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor.
No to the idolatry of money. One cause of this situation is found in our
relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and
our societies. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in new and
ruthless new idols.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves, Behind this attitude
lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed
with a certain scornful derision. I encourage financial experts and political
leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share
one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their
(Note: Italicised selections above are quotations from Evangelium Gaudium).
Reflections on 21st Century ‘Second Spring’.
At the risk of ‘bell book and candle’ I include my own thoughts for the future
of the Church.
I am concerned that the Church doesn’t ask the question “What would Jesus do?”
Perhaps I am wrong because in the case of the election of Pope Francis the Holy
Spirit was certainly at work and the conclave listened.
But what would Jesus do about married priests? There is nothing historically
which demands that priests be celibate. The argument that we couldn’t afford to
support a priest with a wife and children is a poor excuse. Maybe we will have
to dig deeper into our pockets and so we should. Maronites, who give allegiance
to the Roman Catholic Pope, are allowed to marry so why not the Latins?
The discussion regarding married priests has gained emphasis since converted
Anglican Clergy have been allowed to be ordained and celebrate the Roman
Catholic Eucharist. I have met several such converts and whilst it is certainly
feels strange to be introduced to ‘their wives’ it proves that ‘married clergy’
The question of women in the Church is one which is being talked about a lot by
the laity. My own understanding is that as Our Lady gave birth to Jesus it would
be improper for a lady to consecrate a host. This argument is not accepted by
many who I talk to. But are there other areas where women could work in the
Church? There have been rumours of a women becoming cardinals. That may happen
in the future but needs guidance from the Holy Spirit.
One area where women may take an active roll is in conducting funerals. The most
beautiful funeral I ever attended was taken by a lady Methodist Minister. I was
once called upon to take a funeral in a Crematorium. I had to obtain my P.P.’s
permission and was surprised when he said “Yes!” It was an unnerving experience
but if I can do it then Catholic ladies would be able to do it much better. Also
could women officiate at weddings where the Sacrament is conferred by the couple
not by the minister?
In the light of a Second Spring I am very concerned by the lack of reverence in
Catholic Churches. Perhaps you Sisters are not aware of the noise before and
after Mass in Catholic Churches. It is horrendous and to us who recall the
reverence when we were young it is very sad. This must come from a lack of
belief in the real presence.
In that respect we have much to learn from the Anglicans and Methodist. I was in
Walsingham on a Sunday and as I was on my way down to the RC shrine, I called in
at the Anglican Parish Church. The church was packed and the service was about
to start. I was struck by the absolute silence. It was emotional to be in their
presence. Later, before and after Mass at the RC Shrine, the noise was awful
with people talking and chattering. Someone asked for quiet but it fell on deaf
On another occasion I attended the leaving service of a Lady Methodist Minister
who I had got to know through attending ecumenical services. The reverence shown
at that service was outstanding especially at the time of Communion. I came away
very impressed. We have a lot to learn and much to be ashamed of.
In the light of the Church’s rules my most unacceptable request is that the
innocent party of a marriage who is divorced and remarried should be allowed to
receive The Eucharist. This where ‘What would Jesus do?’ comes alive.
For a ‘Second Spring’ to happen means a lot of prayer. Which is where the
Carmelite Sisters at Kirk Edge become involved by asking the Good Lord to bring
into being Pope Francis’s thoughts and especially his care for the poor.
References: The Second Spring 1818-1852 by Dennis Gwynn. Internet Reports from
John Henry Newman’s Sermon ‘The Second Spring’ on the occasion of the First
Provincial Synod of Westminster on the 13th July 1852.
Imagine the scene. The whole of the hierarchy are gathered together and John
Henry Newman has been chosen to preach – an extremely emotional occasion.
“We have familiar experience of the order, the constancy, the perpetual
renovation of the material world which surrounds us. Frail and transitory as is
every part of it, restless and migratory as are its elements, never-ceasing as
are its changes, still it abides. It is bound together by a law of permanence,
it is set up in unity; and, though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life
again. Dissolution does but give birth to fresh modes of organization, and one
death is the parent of a thousand lives. Each hour, as it comes, is but a
testimony, how fleeting, yet how secure, how certain, is the great whole. It is
like an image on the waters, which is ever the same, though the waters ever
flow. Change upon change—yet one change cries out to another, like the alternate
Seraphim, in praise and in glory of their Maker. The sun sinks to rise again;
the day is swallowed up in the gloom of the night, to be born out of it, as
fresh as if it had never been quenched. Spring passes into summer, and through
summer and autumn into winter, only the more surely, by its own ultimate return,
to triumph over that grave, towards which it resolutely hastened from its first
hour. We mourn over the blossoms of May, because they are to wither; but we
know, withal, that May is one day to have its revenge upon November, by the
revolution of that solemn circle which never stops—which teaches us in our
height of hope, ever to be sober, and in our depth of desolation, never to
And forcibly as this comes home to every one of us, not less forcible is the
contrast which exists between this material world, so vigorous, so reproductive,
amid all its changes, and the moral world, so feeble, so downward, so
resourceless, amid all its aspirations. That which ought to come to nought,
endures; that which promises a future, disappoints and is no more. The same sun
shines in heaven from first to last, and the blue firmament, the everlasting
mountains, reflect his rays; but where is there upon earth the champion, the
hero, the lawgiver, the body politic, the sovereign race, which was great three
hundred years ago, and is great now? Moralists and poets, often do they descant
upon this innate vitality of matter, this innate perishableness of mind. Man
rises to fall: he tends to dissolution from the moment he begins to be; he lives
on, indeed, in his children, he lives on in his name, he lives not on in his own
person. He is, as regards the manifestations of his nature here below, as a
bubble that breaks, and as water poured out upon the earth. He was young, he is
old, he is never young again. This is the lament over him, poured forth in verse
and in prose, by Christians and by heathen. The greatest work of God's hands
under the sun, he, in all the manifestations of his complex being, is born only
His bodily frame first begins to feel the power of this constraining law, though
it is the last to succumb to it. We look at the bloom of youth with interest,
yet with pity; and the more graceful and sweet it is, with pity so much the
more; for, whatever be its excellence and its glory, soon it begins to be
deformed and dishonoured by the very force of its living on. It grows into
exhaustion and collapse, till at length it crumbles into that dust out of which
it was originally taken.
So is it, too, with our moral being, a far higher and diviner portion of our
natural constitution; it begins with life, it ends with what is worse than the
mere loss of life, with a living death. How beautiful is the human heart, when
it puts forth its first leaves, and opens and rejoices in its spring-tide. Fair
as may be the bodily form, fairer far, in its green foliage and bright blossoms,
is natural virtue. It blooms in the young, like some rich flower, so delicate,
so fragrant, and so dazzling. Generosity and lightness of heart and amiableness,
the confiding spirit, the gentle temper, the elastic cheerfulness, the open
hand, the pure affection, the noble aspiration, the heroic resolve, the romantic
pursuit, the love in which self has no part,—are not these beautiful? and are
they not dressed up and set forth for admiration in their best shapes, in tales
and in poems? and ah! what a prospect of good is there! who could believe that
it is to fade! and yet, as night follows upon day, as decrepitude follows upon
health, so surely are failure, and overthrow, and annihilation, the issue of
this natural virtue, if time only be allowed to it to run its course. There are
those who are cut off in the first opening of this excellence, and then, if we
may trust their epitaphs, they have lived like angels; but wait a while, let
them live on, let the course of life proceed, let the bright soul go through the
fire and water of the world's temptations and seductions and corruptions and
transformations; and, alas for the insufficiency of nature! alas for its
powerlessness to persevere, its waywardness in disappointing its own promise!
Wait till youth has become age; and not more different is the miniature which we
have of him when a boy, when every feature spoke of hope, put side by side of
the large portrait painted to his honour, when he is old, when his limbs are
shrunk, his eye dim, his brow furrowed, and his hair grey, than differs the
moral grace of that boyhood from the forbidding and repulsive aspect of his
soul, now that he has lived to the age of man. For moroseness, and misanthropy,
and selfishness, is the ordinary winter of that spring.
Such is man in his own nature, and such, too, is he in his works. The noblest
efforts of his genius, the conquests he has made, the doctrines he has
originated, the nations he has civilized, the states he has created, they
outlive himself, they outlive him by many centuries, but they tend to an end,
and that end is dissolution. Powers of the world, sovereignties, dynasties,
sooner or later come to nought; they have their fatal hour. The Roman conqueror
shed tears over Carthage, for in the destruction of the rival city he discerned
too truly an augury of the fall of Rome; and at length, with the weight and the
responsibilities, the crimes and the glories, of centuries upon centuries, the
Imperial City fell.
Thus man and all his works are mortal; they die, and they have no power of
But what is it, my Fathers, my Brothers, what is it that has happened in England
just at this time? Something strange is passing over this land, by the very
surprise, by the very commotion, which it excites. Were we not near enough the
scene of action to be able to say what is going on,—were we the inhabitants of
some sister planet possessed of a more perfect mechanism than this earth has
discovered for surveying the transactions of another globe,—and did we turn our
eyes thence towards England just at this season, we should be arrested by a
political phenomenon as wonderful as any which the astronomer notes down from
his physical field of view. It would be the occurrence of a national commotion,
almost without parallel, more violent than has happened here for centuries,—at
least in the judgments and intentions of men, if not in act and deed. We should
note it down, that soon after St. Michael's day, 1850, a storm arose in the
moral world, so furious as to demand some great explanation, and to rouse in us
an intense desire to gain it. We should observe it increasing from day to day,
and spreading from place to place, without remission, almost without lull, up to
this very hour, when perhaps it threatens worse still, or at least gives no sure
prospect of alleviation. Every party in the body politic undergoes its
influence,—from the Queen upon her throne, down to the little ones in the infant
or day school. The ten thousands of the constituency, the sum-total of
Protestant sects, the aggregate of religious societies and associations, the
great body of established clergy in town and country, the bar, even the medical
profession, nay, even literary and scientific circles, every class, every
interest, every fireside, gives tokens of this ubiquitous storm. This would be
our report of it, seeing it from the distance, and we should speculate on the
cause. What is it all about? against what is it directed? what wonder has
happened upon earth? what prodigious, what preternatural event is adequate to
the burden of so vast an effect?
We should judge rightly in our curiosity about a phenomenon like this; it must
be a portentous event, and it is. It is an innovation, a miracle, I may say, in
the course of human events. The physical world revolves year by year, and begins
again; but the political order of things does not renew itself, does not return;
it continues, but it proceeds; there is no retrogression. This is so well
understood by men of the day, that with them progress is idolized as another
name for good. The past never returns—it is never good;—if we are to escape
existing ills, it must be by going forward. The past is out of date; the past is
dead. As well may the dead live to us, well may the dead profit us, as the past
returns. This, then, is the cause of this national transport, this national cry,
which encompasses us. The past has returned, the dead lives. Thrones are
overturned, and are never restored; States live and die, and then are matter
only for history. Babylon was great, and Tyre, and Egypt, and Nineve, and shall
never be great again. The English Church was, and the English Church was not,
and the English Church is once again. This is the portent, worthy of a cry. It
is the coming in of a Second Spring; it is a restoration in the moral world,
such as that which yearly takes place in the physical.
Three centuries ago, and the Catholic Church, that great creation of God's
power, stood in this land in pride of place. It had the honours of near a
thousand years upon it; it was enthroned on some twenty sees up and down the
broad country; it was based in the will of a faithful people; it energized
through ten thousand instruments of power and influence; and it was ennobled by
a host of Saints and Martyrs. The churches, one by one, recounted and rejoiced
in the line of glorified intercessors, who were the respective objects of their
grateful homage. Canterbury alone numbered perhaps some sixteen, from St.
Augustine to St. Dunstan and St. Elphege, from St. Anselm and St. Thomas down to
St. Edmund. York had its St. Paulinus, St. John, St. Wilfrid, and St. William;
London, its St. Erconwald; Durham, its St. Cuthbert; Winton, its St. Swithun.
Then there were St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, and St. Hugh of Lincoln, and St. Chad
of Lichfield, and St. Thomas of Hereford, and St. Oswald and St. Wulstan of
Worcester, and St. Osmund of Salisbury, and St. Birinus of Dorchester, and St.
Richard of Chichester. And then, too, its religious orders, its monastic
establishments, its universities, its wide relations all over Europe, its high
prerogatives in the temporal state, its wealth, its dependencies, its popular
honours,—where was there in the whole of Christendom a more glorious hierarchy?
Mixed up with the civil institutions, with kings and nobles, with the people,
found in every village and in every town,—it seemed destined to stand, so long
as England stood, and to outlast, it might be, England's greatness.
But it was the high decree of heaven that the majesty of that presence should be
blotted out. It is a long story, my Fathers and Brothers—you know it well. I
need not go through it. The vivifying principle of truth, the shadow of St.
Peter, the grace of the Redeemer, left it. That old Church in its day became a
corpse (a marvellous, an awful change!); and then it did but corrupt the air
which once it refreshed, and cumber the ground which once it beautified. So all
seemed to be lost; and there was a struggle for a time, and then its priests
were cast out or martyred. There were sacrileges innumerable. Its temples were
profaned or destroyed; its revenues seized by covetous nobles, or squandered
upon the ministers of a new faith. The presence of Catholicism was at length
simply removed,—its grace disowned,—its power despised,—its name, except as a
matter of history, at length almost unknown. It took a long time to do this
thoroughly; much time, much thought, much labour, much expense; but at last it
was done. Oh, that miserable day, centuries before we were born! What a
martyrdom to live in it and see the fair form of Truth, moral and material,
hacked piecemeal, and every limb and organ carried off, and burned in the fire,
or cast into the deep! But at last the work was done. Truth was disposed of, and
shovelled away, and there was a calm, a silence, a sort of peace;—and such was
about the state of things when we were born into this weary world.
My Fathers and Brothers, you have seen it on one side, and some of us on
another; but one and all of us can bear witness to the fact of the utter
contempt into which Catholicism had fallen by the time that we were born. You,
alas, know it far better than I can know it; but it may not be out of place, if
by one or two tokens, as by the strokes of a pencil, I bear witness to you from
without, of what you can witness so much more truly from within. No longer the
Catholic Church in the country; nay, no longer, I may say, a Catholic
community;—but a few adherents of the Old Religion, moving silently and
sorrowfully about, as memorials of what had been. "The Roman Catholics;"—not a
sect, not even an interest, as men conceived of it, —not a body, however small,
representative of the Great Communion abroad,—but a mere handful of individuals,
who might be counted, like the pebbles and detritus of the great deluge, and
who, forsooth, merely happened to retain a creed which, in its day indeed, was
the profession of a Church. Here a set of poor Irishmen, coming and going at
harvest time, or a colony of them lodged in a miserable quarter of the vast
metropolis. There, perhaps an elderly person, seen walking in the streets, grave
and solitary, and strange, though noble in bearing, and said to be of good
family, and a "Roman Catholic." An old-fashioned house of gloomy appearance,
closed in with high walls, with an iron gate, and yews, and the report attaching
to it that "Roman Catholics" lived there; but who they were, or what they did,
or what was meant by calling them Roman Catholics, no one could tell;—though it
had an unpleasant sound, and told of form and superstition. And then, perhaps,
as we went to and fro, looking with a boy's curious eyes through the great city,
we might come today upon some Moravian chapel, or Quaker's meeting-house, and
tomorrow on a chapel of the "Roman Catholics": but nothing was to be gathered
from it, except that there were lights burning there, and some boys in white,
swinging censers; and what it all meant could only be learned from books, from
Protestant Histories and Sermons; and they did not report well of "the Roman
Catholics," but, on the contrary, deposed that they had once had power and had
abused it. And then, again, we might on one occasion hear it pointedly put out
by some literary man, as the result of his careful investigation, and as a
recondite point of information, which few knew, that there was this difference
between the Roman Catholics of England and the Roman Catholics of Ireland, that
the latter had bishops, and the former were governed by four officials, called
Such was about the sort of knowledge possessed of Christianity by the heathen of
old time, who persecuted its adherents from the face of the earth, and then
called them a gens lucifuga, a people who shunned the light of day. Such were
Catholics in England, found in corners, and alleys, and cellars, and the
housetops, or in the recesses of the country; cut off from the populous world
around them, and dimly seen, as if through a mist or in twilight, as ghosts
flitting to and fro, by the high Protestants, the lords of the earth. At length
so feeble did they become, so utterly contemptible, that contempt gave birth to
pity; and the more generous of their tyrants actually began to wish to bestow on
them some favour, under the notion that their opinions were simply too absurd
ever to spread again, and that they themselves, were they but raised in civil
importance, would soon unlearn and be ashamed of them. And thus, out of mere
kindness to us, they began to vilify our doctrines to the Protestant world, that
so our very idioticy or our secret unbelief might be our plea for mercy.
A great change, an awful contrast, between the time-honoured Church of St.
Augustine and St. Thomas, and the poor remnant of their children in the
beginning of the nineteenth century! It was a miracle, I might say, to have
pulled down that lordly power; but there was a greater and a truer one in store.
No one could have prophesied its fall, but still less would any one have
ventured to prophesy its rise again. The fall was wonderful; still after all it
was in the order of nature;—all things come to nought: its rise again would be a
different sort of wonder, for it is in the order of grace,—and who can hope for
miracles, and such a miracle as this? Has the whole course of history a like to
show? I must speak cautiously and according to my knowledge, but I recollect no
parallel to it. Augustine, indeed, came to the same island to which the early
missionaries had come already; but they came to Britons, and he to Saxons. The
Arian Goths and Lombards, too, cast off their heresy in St. Augustine's age, and
joined the Church; but they had never fallen away from her. The inspired word
seems to imply the almost impossibility of such a grace as the renovation of
those who have crucified to themselves again, and trodden under foot, the Son of
God. Who then could have dared to hope that, out of so sacrilegious a nation as
this is, a people would have been formed again unto their Saviour? What signs
did it show that it was to be singled out from among the nations? Had it been
prophesied some fifty years ago, would not the very notion have seemed
preposterous and wild?
My Fathers, there was one of your own order, then in the maturity of his powers
and his reputation. His name is the property of this diocese; yet is too great,
too venerable, too dear to all Catholics, to be confined to any part of England,
when it is rather a household word in the mouths of all of us. What would have
been the feelings of that venerable man, the champion of God's ark in an evil
time, could he have lived to see this day? It is almost presumptuous for one who
knew him not, to draw pictures about him, and his thoughts, and his friends,
some of whom are even here present; yet am I wrong in fancying that a day such
as this, in which we stand, would have seemed to him a dream, or, if he
prophesied of it, to his hearers nothing but a mockery? Say that one time, rapt
in spirit, he had reached forward to the future, and that his mortal eye had
wandered from that lowly chapel in the valley which had been for centuries in
the possession of Catholics, to the neighbouring height, then waste and
solitary. And let him say to those about him: "I see a bleak mount, looking upon
an open country, over against that huge town, to whose inhabitants Catholicism
is of so little account. I see the ground marked out, and an ample enclosure
made; and plantations are rising there, clothing and circling in the space”.
"And there on that high spot, far from the haunts of men, yet in the very centre
of the island, a large edifice, or rather pile of edifices, appears with many
fronts, and courts, and long cloisters and corridors, and story upon story. And
there it rises, under the invocation of the same sweet and powerful name which
has been our strength and consolation in the Valley. I look more attentively at
that building, and I see it is fashioned upon that ancient style of art which
brings back the past, which had seemed to be perishing from off the face of the
earth, or to be preserved only as a curiosity, or to be imitated only as a
fancy. I listen, and I hear the sound of voices, grave and musical, renewing the
old chant, with which Augustine greeted Ethelbert in the free air upon the
Kentish strand. It comes from a long procession, and it winds along the
cloisters. Priests and Religious, theologians from the schools, and canons from
the Cathedral, walk in due precedence. And then there comes a vision of
well-nigh twelve mitred heads; and last I see a Prince of the Church, in the
royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome's
unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and
hope. And the shadow of the Saints is there;—St. Benedict is there, speaking to
us by the voice of bishop and of priest, and counting over the long ages through
which he has prayed, and studied, and laboured; there, too, is St. Dominic's
white wool, which no blemish can impair, no stain can dim:—and if St. Bernard be
not there, it is only that his absence may make him be remembered more. And the
princely patriarch, St. Ignatius, too, the St. George of the modern world, with
his chivalrous lance run through his writhing foe, he, too, sheds his blessing
upon that train. And others, also, his equals or his juniors in history, whose
pictures are above our altars, or soon shall be, the surest proof that the
Lord's arm has not waxen short, nor His mercy failed,—they, too, are looking
down from their thrones on high upon the throng. And so that high company moves
on into the holy place; and there, with august rite and awful sacrifice,
inaugurates the great act which brings it thither." What is that act? It is the
first synod of a new Hierarchy; it is the resurrection of the Church.
O my Fathers, my Brothers, had that revered Bishop so spoken then, who that had
heard him but would have said that he spoke what could not be? What! Those few
scattered worshippers, the Roman Catholics, to form a Church! Shall the past be
rolled back? Shall the grave open? Shall the Saxons live again to God? Shall the
shepherds, watching their poor flocks by night, be visited by a multitude of the
heavenly army, and hear how their Lord has been new-born in their own city? Yes;
for grace can, where nature cannot. The world grows old, but the Church is ever
young. She can, in any time, at her Lord's will, "inherit the Gentiles, and
inhabit the desolate cities." "Arise, Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the
glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. Behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and a mist the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall
be seen upon thee. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see; all these are
gathered together, they come to thee; thy sons shall come from afar, and thy
daughters shall rise up at thy side." "Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my
beautiful one, and come. For the winter is now past, and the rain is over and
gone. The flowers have appeared in our land … the fig-tree hath put forth her
green figs; the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my
beautiful one, and come." It is the time for thy Visitation. Arise, Mary, and go
forth in thy strength into that north country, which once was thine own, and
take possession of a land which knows thee not. Arise, Mother of God, and with
thy thrilling voice, speak to those who labour with child, and are in pain, till
the babe of grace leaps within them! Shine on us, dear Lady, with thy bright
countenance, like the sun in his strength, O stella matutina, O harbinger of
peace, till our year is one perpetual May. From thy sweet eyes, from thy pure
smile, from thy majestic brow, let ten thousand influences rain down, not to
confound or overwhelm, but to persuade, to win over thine enemies. O Mary, my
hope, O Mother undefiled, fulfil to us the promise of this Spring. A second
temple rises on the ruins of the old. Canterbury has gone its way, and York is
gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them.
We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to
nought; but the Church in England has died, and the Church lives again.
Westminster and Nottingham, Beverley and Hexham, Northampton and Shrewsbury, if
the world lasts, shall be names as musical to the ear, as stirring to the heart,
as the glories we have lost; and Saints shall rise out of them, if God so will,
and Doctors once again shall give the law to Israel, and Preachers call to
penance and to justice, as at the beginning.
Yes, my Fathers and Brothers, and if it be God's blessed will, not Saints alone,
not Doctors only, not Preachers only, shall be ours—but Martyrs, too, shall
reconsecrate the soil to God. We know not what is before us, ere we win our own;
we are engaged in a great, a joyful work, but in proportion to God's grace is
the fury of His enemies. They have welcomed us as the lion greets his prey.
Perhaps they may be familiarized in time with our appearance, but perhaps they
may be irritated the more. To set up the Church again in England is too great an
act to be done in a corner. We have had reason to expect that such a boon would
not be given to us without a cross. It is not God's way that great blessings
should descend without the sacrifice first of great sufferings. If the truth is
to be spread to any wide extent among this people, how can we dream, how can we
hope, that trial and trouble shall not accompany its going forth? And we have
already, if it may be said without presumption, to commence our work withal, a
large store of merits. We have no slight outfit for our opening warfare. Can we
religiously suppose that the blood of our martyrs, three centuries ago and
since, shall never receive its recompense? Those priests, secular and regular,
did they suffer for no end? or rather, for an end which is not yet accomplished?
The long imprisonment, the fetid dungeon, the weary suspense, the tyrannous
trial, the barbarous sentence, the savage execution, the rack, the gibbet, the
knife, the cauldron, the numberless tortures of those holy victims, O my God,
are they to have no reward? Are Thy martyrs to cry from under Thine altar for
their loving vengeance on this guilty people, and to cry in vain? Shall they
lose life, and not gain a better life for the children of those who persecuted
them? Is this Thy way, O my God, righteous and true? Is it according to Thy
promise, O King of saints, if I may dare talk to Thee of justice? Did not Thou
Thyself pray for Thine enemies upon the cross, and convert them? Did not Thy
first Martyr win Thy great Apostle, then a persecutor, by his loving prayer? And
in that day of trial and desolation for England, when hearts were pierced
through and through with Mary's woe, at the crucifixion of Thy body mystical,
was not every tear that flowed, and every drop of blood that was shed, the seeds
of a future harvest, when they who sowed in sorrow were to reap in joy?
And as that suffering of the Martyrs is not yet recompensed, so, perchance, it
is not yet exhausted. Something, for what we know, remains to be undergone, to
complete the necessary sacrifice. May God forbid it, for this poor nation's
sake! But still could we be surprised, my Fathers and my Brothers, if the winter
even now should not yet be quite over? Have we any right to take it strange, if,
in this English land, the spring-time of the Church should turn out to be an
English spring, an uncertain, anxious time of hope and fear, of joy and
suffering,—of bright promise and budding hopes, yet withal, of keen blasts, and
cold showers, and sudden storms?
One thing alone I know,—that according to our need, so will be our strength. One
thing I am sure of, that the more the enemy rages against us, so much the more
will the Saints in Heaven plead for us; the more fearful are our trials from the
world, the more present to us will be our Mother Mary, and our good Patrons and
Angel Guardians; the more malicious are the devices of men against us, the
louder cry of supplication will ascend from the bosom of the whole Church to God
for us. We shall not be left orphans; we shall have within us the strength of
the Paraclete, promised to the Church and to every member of it. My Fathers, my
Brothers in the priesthood, I speak from my heart when I declare my conviction,
that there is no one among you here present but, if God so willed, would readily
become a martyr for His sake. I do not say you would wish it; I do not say that
the natural will would not pray that that chalice might pass away; I do not
speak of what you can do by any strength of yours;—but in the strength of God,
in the grace of the Spirit, in the armour of justice, by the consolations and
peace of the Church, by the blessing of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and in the
name of Christ, you would do what nature cannot do. By the intercession of the
Saints on high, by the penances and good works and the prayers of the people of
God on earth, you would be forcibly borne up as upon the waves of the mighty
deep, and carried on out of yourselves by the fullness of grace, whether nature
wished it or no. I do not mean violently, or with unseemly struggle, but calmly,
gracefully, sweetly, joyously, you would mount up and ride forth to the battle,
as on the rush of Angels' wings, as your fathers did before you, and gained the
prize. You, who day by day offer up the Immaculate Lamb of God, you who hold in
your hands the Incarnate Word under the visible tokens which He has ordained,
you who again and again drain the chalice of the Great Victim; who is to make
you fear? what is to startle you? what to seduce you? who is to stop you,
whether you are to suffer or to do, whether to lay the foundations of the Church
in tears, or to put the crown upon the work in jubilation?
My Fathers, my Brothers, one word more. It may seem as if I were going out of my
way in thus addressing you; but I have some sort of plea to urge in extenuation.
When the English College at Rome was set up by the solicitude of a great Pontiff
in the beginning of England's sorrows, and missionaries were trained there for
confessorship and martyrdom here, who was it that saluted the fair Saxon youths
as they passed by him in the streets of the great city, with the salutation,
"Salvete flores martyrum"? And when the time came for each in turn to leave that
peaceful home, and to go forth to the conflict, to whom did they betake
themselves before leaving Rome, to receive a blessing which might nerve them for
their work? They went for a Saint's blessing; they went to a calm old man, who
had never seen blood, except in penance; who had longed indeed to die for
Christ, what time the great St. Francis opened the way to the far East, but who
had been fixed as if a sentinel in the holy city, and walked up and down for
fifty years on one beat, while his brethren were in the battle. Oh! the fire of
that heart, too great for its frail tenement, which tormented him to be kept at
home when the whole Church was at war! and therefore came those bright-haired
strangers to him, ere they set out for the scene of their passion, that the full
zeal and love pent up in that burning breast might find a vent, and flow over,
from him who was kept at home, upon those who were to face the foe. Therefore
one by one, each in his turn, those youthful soldiers came to the old man; and
one by one they persevered and gained the crown and the palm,—all but one, who
had not gone, and would not go, for the salutary blessing.
My Fathers, my Brothers, that old man was my own St. Philip. Bear with me for
his sake. If I have spoken too seriously, his sweet smile shall temper it. As he
was with you three centuries ago in Rome, when our Temple fell, so now surely
when it is rising, it is a pleasant token that he should have even set out on
his travels to you; and that, as if remembering how he interceded for you at
home, and recognizing the relations he then formed with you, he should now be
wishing to have a name among you, and to be loved by you, and perchance to do
you a service, here in your own land.”
One of the Canons present described afterwards how, before the sermon was
finished, “all were weeping, most of us silently, but some audibly: as to the
big-hearted Cardinal Wiseman, he fairly gave up the effort at dignity and self
control, and sobbed like a child.”
Newman himself was so exhausted and overcome by emotional strain that Manning
had to assist him to his room.
Phillip who Newman mentions in his sermon is St Phillip Neri who was born in
Florence in 1515. He was known as the “Apostle of Rome” and in 1575 formed the
Congregation of Oratorians. It is unlike other religious institutions where
members take vows and are answerable to a central authority. The Oratorians are
made up of members who commit themselves to an independent, self-governing local
community without actually taking vows. They are answerable directly to the
Pope. This unusual and innovative arrangement was created by St. Phillip.
Their churches are called Oratories and in 1575 the first one in Rome received
papal recognition. Newman was an Oratorian and in 1848 his Oratory at Oscott
House in Birmingham was given a Papal Brief as a location of the first English
Oratory of St. Phillip. It remains an Oratory though its name has been changed