Today in Catholic History – John Henry Newman enters the Catholic Church

On 9 October 1845, John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by the Passionist priest Dominic Barberi at the College in Littlemore, England.

John Henry Newman, known for his writings on Catholic Education, turned toward Catholicism based upon his readings of the writings of Saint Augustine against the Donatist heresy. Newman wondered, if Augustine was correct in calling the Donatists heretics because they were separated from Rome, what did that imply about the Anglican Church in his time? He writes, “Who can account for the impressions which are made on him? For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before . . . they were like the ‘Tolle, lege, — Tolle, lege,’ of the child, which converted St Augustine himself. ‘Securus judicat orbis terrarum!’ By those great words of the ancient Father, interpreting and summing up the long and varied course of ecclesiastical history, the theology of the Via Media was absolutely pulverised.”

Newman would find confirmation his opinion about the need to enter the Catholic Church in the writings of other Church Fathers as well.

Newman’s decision to become Catholic would lead to breaks with family and friends. In October 1846, he was ordained to the priesthood in Rome. He was beatified on the 19th of September 2010.


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