Blessed John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman was born in London on 21st February 1801, the eldest son of a London banker. His families were members of the Church of England but without any strong religious commitment.  The young John Henry learned at an early age to love the Bible and enjoyed reading it.  In 1808 he was sent to Ealing School and it was there at the age of fifteen that he underwent a profound religious conversion.

He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman and worked first as a curate in the Oxford parish of Saint Clement’s, and later became vicar of the Oxford university church of Saint Mary the Virgin. His spiritual influence there on parishioners and members of the university was substantial, especially through his preaching.

He began to question his membership of the Church of England.  He withdrew from Oxford in order to think and pray.  For three years he lived a monastic life, praying for guidance. By 1845 his mind was clear, and on 9th October that year he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

He went to Rome to study for the priesthood and to discern his future. In 1848 he established the first English Oratory at Maryvale near Birmingham.  During his old age he continued quietly in the Birmingham Oratory which he had founded, devoting his time to preaching, writing, and spiritual direction. Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, as a tribute to his outstanding knowledge and piety.

Cardinal Newman died in the Birmingham Oratory of pneumonia on the 11th of August 1890.

Cardinal Newman’s beatification to “Blessed” was officially proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI on 19th September 2010 during his visit to the United Kingdom.