The Life of Cardinal John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman was born in London, on February 21, 1801. At age seven, he distinguished himself in school through his diligence and good conduct. Newman took great delight in reading the Bible, and the novels of Walter Scott. At 15, he underwent the first of several transformative experiences in his life, and developed a serious interest in religion for the first time.
Cardinal Newman’s Early Life
With the financial collapse of his father’s bank following the end of the Napoleonic Wars and an unsuccessful attempt to manage a brewery, Newman regarded 1816 as a turning point in his life. Early on, Newman had had a conventional up-bringing in the Church of England, where the emphasis was on the Bible, and not the Liturgy or the Sacraments. Thanks to the influence of one of his teachers, Reverend Walter Mayer, Newman adopted a Calvinist form of evangelicalism along with the belief that the Pope was the Antichrist.
Newman entered Oxford‘s Trinity College in 1817. In 1818, Newman was given a scholarship of 60 Pounds per year. If it were not for this, he would have been forced to withdraw from the university. Anxiety over his grades caused Newman to have a breakdown during his final exams, however, Newman graduated from Oxford in 1821. Seeking to remain at Oxford, Newman was eventually elected as a Fellow of Oriel College.
Father Newman was ordained as an Anglican priest on May 25, 1825. Subsequently, he became the Curate of St. Clement
In 1826, Father Newman supported the election of Edward Hawkins as Provost of Oriel College. This decision marked the beginning of the Oxford Movement, which views the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church as branches of the Catholic Church. That same year, Father Newman circulated an anonymous letter to the members of the Christian Missionary Society, suggesting a method by which non-conformists could be excluded. This proposal was rejected and Father Newman was dismissed as the Society
Between 1832 and 1835, Father Newman fought a number of battles with the Anglican Church, which led to a gradual split with the University of Oxford and the Anglican Church as well.
In 1839, Father Newman gave up his position as the editor of British Critic, a conservative religious journal founded in 1793. The establishment of a joint Anglican-Lutheran bishopric in Jerusalem demonstrated to Father Newman that the Church of England was not apostolic.
In February, 1843, Father Newman published an advertisement in the Oxford University journal. Father Newman
Cardinal Newman’s Conversion
Father Newman was formally received into the Catholic Church in October, 1845. In October, 1846, Father Newman went to Rome, and was officially ordained as a Catholic Priest. Upon returning to England, as an Oratorian Priest, Father Newton received teaching positions at various Parochial schools, eventually arriving at Edgbaston, near Birmingham. Father Newman would spend most of the next 40 years living in seclusion at Edgbaston. Father Newman taught at the Oratory School, in Reading, which was regarded as the best Catholic school in England. Father Newman helped to establish the London Oratory, where he delivered a series of lectures on Catholicism in England.
In 1854, at the request of the Irish bishops, Father Newman travelled to Ireland as the Rector of the newly established Catholic University of Ireland, where he delivered a series of lectures entitled The Idea of a University.
In 1870, Father Newman published Grammar of Assent, in which he attempted to defend religion as a legitimate human activity that was not contrary to human nature.
In 1878, Father Newman was made an honorary Fellow of the University of Oxford. Pope Leo XIII was encouraged by a number of prominent lay Catholics in Britain, to make Father Newman a Cardinal. This act was unusual, because Father Newman was not yet a Bishop. Following his ordination on May 25, 1879, he became Cardinal-Deacon of San Giorgio Al Velabro Basillica in Rome.
With continuing poor health, he celebrated his last mass on Christmas Day, 1889. Cardinal Newman died of pneumonia on August 11, 1890. He was buried in Rednal Hill Cemetery, near the Birmingham Oratory.
Cardinal Newman’s Legacy
Throughout his life, Cardinal Newman was a zealous disciple of truth. This unending quest for truth led Cardinal Newman to search for a voice that spoke to him with the authority of the living Christ. Even today Cardinal Newman holds a lasting appeal for scholars and theologians. Closely connected with Cardinal Newman
’s Church in Oxford. While looking after his parish, Father Newman wrote a number of encyclopedia articles. Father Newman also assisted Richard Whately in his work on logic. This collaboration helped Father Newman refine his idea of what the Christian Church should be. ’s secretary. In 1832, differences “substantially religious in nature,” between Newman and Hawkins, led to Father Newman resigning his position as one of the college’s tutors.’s advertisement was a formal retraction of his prior anti-Catholic statements.
In September, 2010, Cardinal Newman will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Coventry Cathedral, in Britain.
John Henry Newman (2006). Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford
Faught, C. Brad (2003). The Oxford Movement: A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press
Gilley, S. (2002). Newman and His Age. London: Darton,Longman & Todd Ltd.