1801 - 1890
"Evil has no substance of its own, but is only the defect, excess, perversion, or corruption of that which has substance."
- John Henry Newman
John Henry Newman was ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1825. As one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, which asserted the essentially Catholic nature of the Anglican Church, he was received into the Roman Catholicism in 1845; two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest and, in 1879, was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest of modern English theologians. As Anglican priests were not bound by rules of celibacy, the sexuality of Newman and his circle has long been a subject of interest. Observers contemporary to Newman’s time speculated on the true nature of the intense masculine friendships that typified the Oxford Movement, which was known to have attracted numerous prominent homosexual men from a variety of academic backgrounds. Newman’s deepest emotional relationship was with his live-in companion of 34 years – Fr. Ambrose St. John – who followed Newman into Roman Catholicism. Though Newman’s own writings make no mention of any breach of priestly celibacy, their tenor shatters any notion that theirs was a casual friendship. Newman was so profoundly affected by the death of Fr. St. John in 1875 that he wrote “I feel it difficult to believe that any one's sorrow [can be] greater than mine" and went on to equate the depth of his grief with the loss of one spouse for another. Newman made his sentiments unequivocally clear, further stating "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 … I confirm and insist on." Inseparable in death as in life, a joint memorial stone was erected for the two men; the inscription bore words Newman had chosen: “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem” ("Out of shadows and phantasms into the truth"). Though the true nature of their relationship may never be fully understood, Newman has long been a hero to many gay Roman Catholics. He was beatified in September of 2010 and canonized on October 13, 2019.
Sexual Orientation Gay
Gender Identity Cisgender
Faith Construct Catholic Protestant
Nations Affiliated United Kingdom Ireland Italy
Era/Epoch Gilded Age (1865-1900) Victorian Era (1837-1901)
Field(s) of Contribution
Commemorations & Honors
Made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII (1879)
Beatification by Pope Benedict XVI in Manchester, UK (2010)
Canonized as a Saint by Pope Francis at a Mass in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City (2019)