Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Walking to Littlemore

Last night I participated in the annual Night Walk from the Oxford Oratory to Littlemore to mark the 169th anniversary of Bl. John Henry Newman's reception into the Catholic Church. This is the tenth consecutive year that I have done the walk, and I always find it a spiritually rewarding as well as an enjoyable occasion.

It appears now to be mandatory that if we have a procession I am required to wear a yellow safety jacket as a marshal. As last year I was the whipper in at the back - I think I ought to take lessons from my friends in the Christ Church Beagles...

We began as usual at the Oxford Oratory and walked via sites associated with Newman - Trinity College, St Mary's Church, Oriel College, the site of the Angel Inn where Bl. Dominic arrived soaking wet from travelling on the roof of the stage coach in 1845, the site of old St Clement's Church where Newman was assistant curate in the 1820s, and reflected at Greyfriars on his lament for the loss of Catholicism in the University of his day by contrast with the era of Duns Scotus. We also paused at the two houses at Rose Hill on the way to Littlemore occupied by his mother and sisters in the 1830s.

At Littlemore we had a Holy Hour in the modern church of Bl.Dominic Barberi led by Fr Hancock, the parish priest, before processing to the College.

Bl. John Henry Newman and Bl. Dominic Barberi in 1845
A bronze relief by Faith Tolkien in Littlemore church made in 1995

Image: newmanfriendsinternational.org

There is an intersting piece about this meeting of Bl. Dominic and Bl. John Henry, their reaction to one another and the latter's memories of the Passionist in the post from the website of the Friends of Newman International which can be seen here.


"The door opened and what a spectacle it was for me to see at my feet John Henry Newman begging me to hear his confession and to admit him into the bosom of the Catholic Church!"

Words of Bl. Dominic Barberi

The reconstructed fireplace in the Library at The College in Littlemore where John Henry Newman knelt to greet the Passionist Father Dominic Barberi.


The Library at Littlemore today

Image: newmanfriendsinternational.org

Newman's bedroom kept today as it was when he lived there.

Newman’s bedroom restored to as it was when he lived there.

Newman's writing desk on which Blessed Barberi performed the mass after Newman's conversion. Newman never write on it again and kept it inverted after this .

Newman’s writing desk is preserved in the Library. It was on this surface that Blessed Dominic Barberi celebrated the Mass in the chapel after Newman’s reception. Newman never wrote on it again and kept it inverted after the Mass.



The Chapel in the College

Image:newmanfriends international 

At the conclusion of our pilgrimage we were able to venerate a relic of Bl. John Henry in the chapel before receiving a very welcome cup of tea from the Sisters of the Work, who care with great devotion for the College and provide a generous and very spiritual welcome for visitors. If you have not already visited this remarkable place, or encountered Newman at the hinge event of his life, I would urge you to do so.

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