Here’s another lesser known fact: John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by a priest who is also a “Blessed” – Blessed Dominic Barberi, an Italian Passionist missionary then living in England.
Blessed Dominic Barberi, although an Italian, had followed the “catholicizing” Anglican Oxford Movement (then led by the Anglican priest John Henry Newman) with great interest.
In his ‘Letter to University Professors at Oxford’ Dominic had expressed his hope for the conversion of England to the Catholic Faith, and his belief that the men of Oxford would be instrumental in such a conversion. No doubt, Blessed Dominic Barberi offered many sacrifices and penances for this goal.
Dominic publicly criticized the Anglican claim that the 39 Articles (the official Protestant creed of the Anglican Church) could be interpreted in a Catholic light – something that John Henry Newman had attempted to achieve in his (in)famous “Tract 90.”
In October of 1845, Dominic Barberi visited Littlemore where John Henry Newman made his general confession to him. Newman relates in his Apologia of how Dominic arrived soaked from the rain and as he was drying himself by the fire Newman knelt and asked to be received into the Catholic Church. This event is marked by a sculpture in the Catholic Church of Blessed Dominic Barberi at Littlemore. Two of Newman’s companions at Littlemore were also received and Dominic celebrated Mass for them the following morning. Newman and Dominic always afterward followed each others careers.
On October 9 2010, John Henry Newman will join the ranks of the “Blessed” alongside his spiritual father – Blessed Dominic Barberi.
Blessed Dominic Barberi, pray for us and for all Anglicans seeking reunion with Rome.