Tuesday, April 27, 2004

On April 27, 1879
Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., had a private audience with the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, prior to the same Holy Father making him a Cardinal. He described this meeting in a letter home to one of the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory.
'"Via Sistina No. 48: May 2, 1879.
'My dear Henry,
Your letter came safe and thank you for it. I have been laid up with a bad cold ever since I have been here. Yesterday and today I have been in bed. It has seized my throat and continues hard. I have had advice, but it does nothing for me. The weather is so bad-I think it will not go till Spring weather comes. It pulls me down sadly. Here great days are passing, and I a prisoner in the house. It answers to my general experience of Roman weather.

The Holy Father received me most affectionately-keeping my hand in his. He asked me, 'Do you intend to continue head of the Birmingham House?' I answered, 'That depends on the Holy Father.' He then said, 'Well then I wish you to continue head,' and he went on to speak of this at length, saying there was a precedent for it in one of Gregory XVI.'s cardinals.

He asked me various questions-was our house a good one? was our Church? how many were we? of what age? When I said, we had lost some, he put his hand on my head and said 'Don't cry.' He asked 'had we any lay brothers?' How then did we do for a cook? I said we had a widow woman, and the kitchen was cut off from the house. He said 'bene.' Where did I get my theology? at Propaganda? etc. etc. When I was leaving he accepted a copy of my four Latin Dissertations, in the Roman Edition. I certainly did not think his mouth large till he smiled, and then the ends turned up, but not unpleasantly-he has a clear white complexion-his eyes somewhat bloodshot-but this might have been the accident of the day. He speaks very slowly and clearly and with an Italian manner.

William has had a letter to Austin on the stocks for some days. I hope it went a day or two ago.
Love to all.
Ever yours afftly.,


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