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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

9 October 1845.

A miraculous thing happened on that date. Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman came into the Catholic Church at Littlemore near Oxford,

Many years ago, I visited that holy place, saw Newman's little cell, and breathed the air of simplicity and peace, only found in areas where saints have lived. I wanted to stay there forever.

Oxford is a bustling city of golden hues and modern stores, but Littlemore seems frozen in time, a reminder of quieter, slower days, and the great spirit of  Blessed Newman.

Today is the feast day of the extraordinary priest who brought Newman into the Church, Blessed Dominic Barberi. This mostly unknown man had a "way" with non-Catholics, bringing a rather Mediterranean view of Catholicism to the old and very English manners of Oxford and Littlemore.

Blessed Dominic, a Passionist Father from Italy, founded four houses of that order in England, after working some time both in Italy and Belgium. His energy and great love brought many Anglicans into the Church right at the time when the anti-Catholic laws were finally being changed, but when, in response to more legal rights, the Papists became the butt of new prejudices and ugliness. Indeed, many people fell back into the fear and frenzy of hatred towards the new Catholic hierarchy re-established just one year after Blessed Dominic's death in Reading on August 27, 1849.

I cannot imagine the turbulent times in which he worked as a pastor and missionary, but the fruit of his work blesses us all today.  Let us pray to Blessed Dominic Barberi, a saint I truly would like to meet someday.

Blessed Dominic had a heart attack in Reading, when coming out of the train station. He was taken to a nearby pub, where he died. Amazing. I wonder if any other saints have died in English pubs?

The old station became a pub, but I do not know if the Victorian building is the same one in Blessed Dominic's story.