elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,
elisa_rolle
elisa_rolle

Ambrose St. John & John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman CO (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890), also referred to as Cardinal Newman, was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. He was known nationally by the mid-1830s. Newman experienced intense male friendships, the first with Richard Hurrell Froude (1803–1836), the longest with Ambrose St John (1815–1875), who shared communitarian life with Newman for 32 years from 1843 (when St John was 28). Newman wrote after St John's death: "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." He directed that he be buried in the same grave as St. John: "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." (P: John Everett Millais (1829–1896), National Portrait Gallery, NPG 5295. John Henry Newman)

In 1842 Newman withdrew to Littlemore in Oxford, and lived under something like monastic conditions with a small band of followers. The first to join him there was John Dobree Dalgairns. Others were William Lockhart on the advice of Henry Manning, Ambrose St John in 1843, Frederick Oakeley and Albany James Christie in 1845. Buildings were adapted in what is now College Lane, Littlemore, opposite the inn. Called by Newman "the house of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Littlemore" (now Newman College) they had comprised stables and granary for stage coaches. The construction work on this "Anglican monastery" attracted publicity, and much curiosity in Oxford, which Newman tried to downplay, but the nickname Newmanooth (from Maynooth College) was given to the development. (P: Birmingham Oratory. Ambrose St. John, mid-19th century)


John Henry Newman was an important figure in the religious history of England. The Reverend Father Ambrose St. John was an English Oratorian. He is now best known as a lifelong friend of Cardinal Newman. Newman wrote: "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." In accordance with his expressed wishes, Cardinal Newman was buried in the grave with Fr. St. John.


In accordance with his expressed wishes, Cardinal John Henry Newman & Father Ambrose St. John are buried in the same grave at Rednal Roman Catholic Cemetery, Rednal, England: "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.” The pall over the coffin bore his cardinal's motto Cor ad cor loquitur ("Heart speaks to heart".) The two men have a joint memorial stone that is inscribed with the words he had chosen: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem ("Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth"). In preparation for his beatification and canonization, the Catholic Church wanted to transfer his body, but when the grave was opened in 2008, no remains were found due to his body being buried in a wooden coffin in very damp ground.

Originally an evangelical Oxford academic and priest in the Church of England, Newman was a leader in the Oxford Movement. This influential grouping of Anglicans wished to return the Church of England to many Catholic beliefs and forms of worship traditional in the medieval times to restore ritual expression. In 1845 Newman left the Church of England and was received into the Roman Catholic Church where he was eventually granted the rank of cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He was instrumental in the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland, which evolved into University College, Dublin, today the largest university in Ireland.

Newman's beatification was officially proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI on 19 September 2010 during his visit to the United Kingdom. His canonisation is dependent on the documentation of additional miracles.

Newman was also a literary figure of note: his major writings including his autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865–66), the Grammar of Assent (1870), and the poem The Dream of Gerontius (1865), which was set to music in 1900 by Edward Elgar as an oratorio. He wrote the popular hymns "Lead, Kindly Light" and "Praise to the Holiest in the Height" (taken from Gerontius).

In accordance with his express wishes, Newman was buried in the grave of his lifelong friend Ambrose St. John. The pall over the coffin bore the motto that Newman adopted for use as a cardinal, Cor ad cor loquitur ("Heart speaks to heart"), which William Barry, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), traces to Francis de Sales and sees as revealing the secret of Newman's "eloquence, unaffected, graceful, tender, and penetrating". Ambrose St. John had become a Roman Catholic at around the same time as Newman, and the two men have a joint memorial stone inscribed with the motto Newman had chosen, Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem ("Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth"), which Barry traces to Plato's allegory of the cave.

In a September 2010 television documentary, "The Trouble with the Pope", Peter Tatchell discussed Newman's underlying sexuality, citing his close friendship with Ambrose St John and entries in Newman's diaries describing their intense love for each other. Alan Bray, however, in his 2003 book The Friend, saw the bond between the two men as "entirely spiritual", noting that Newman, when speaking of St John, echoes the language of John's gospel. Shortly after St John's death, Bray adds, Newman recorded "a conversation between them before St John lost his speech in those final days. He expressed his hope, Newman wrote, that during his whole priestly life he had not committed one mortal sin. For men of their time and culture that statement is definitive.... Newman's burial with Ambrose St John cannot be detached from his understanding of the place of friendship in Christian belief or its long history." Bray cites numerous examples of friends being buried together. Newman's burial with St John was not unusual at the time and did not draw contemporary comment.

The Reverend Father Ambrose St. John (1815 – 24 May 1875 Edgbaston, Birmingham) was an English Oratorian and convert to Catholicism. He is now best known as a lifelong friend of the Bl.John Henry Newman.

He was born and brought up in Hornsey, Middlesex, now in north London. He was the son of Henry St. John, descended from the Barons St. John of Bletso. He was educated at Westminster School, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated M.A., forming a lifelong friendship with Newman.

In 1841 he became curate to Henry Wilberforce, first at Walmer, subsequently at East Farleigh. He then joined Newman at Littlemore which he left, on his conversion to the Catholic Church, about a month before Newman's conversion in October, 1845. After a short time spent with Newman at Maryvale he accompanied him to Rome where they were ordained priests.

Having become Oratorians, they began mission work in Birmingham (1847), removing to the suburb of Edgbaston in 1852. There he devoted himself entirely to missionary work, taking a leading part in the work of the Birmingham Oratory and its school.

He was a classical scholar and a linguist both in Oriental and European tongues. His death followed work in translating Josef Fessler's book on papal infallibility, published as The True and False Infallibility of the Popes, London, 1875, a defence of the doctrine of Infallibility as taught by the Italian "Ultramontane" theologians, at a time when the controversy over the doctrine was mounting and Newman was engaged in controversy with William Ewart Gladstone. Newman, who with others had been privately opposed to a dogmatic declaration of the doctrine, which Gladstone had vigorously attacked, reproached himself that he had caused his friend's death by overworking him.

He was a man of marked individuality and Newman paid tribute to him in his Apologia. In The Dream of Gerontius, Edward Elgar's piece based on Newman's poem, the character of the Guardian Angel is considered to be based on St. John.

Newman wrote after the death of Fr. 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."

In accordance with his expressed wishes, in 1890 Cardinal Newman was buried in the grave with The Rev. Fr. Ambrose St. John. Previously, they had shared a house. The pall over the coffin bore his cardinal's motto Cor ad cor loquitur ("Heart speaks to heart"). The two men have a joint memorial stone that is inscribed with the words he had chosen: Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem ("Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth"). In 2008, Newman's remains in the shared grave were exhumed as part of a plan to move them to the Oratory in Birmingham city centre in preparation for Newman's possible canonization. At the exhumation, Newman's wooden coffin was found to have disintegrated and his body completely decayed.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_Newman

Further Readings:

Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1500563323
ISBN-13: 978-1500563325
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time

Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher


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Tags: days of love, eccentric: ambrose st. john, leader: john henry newman
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