Monday, November 15, 2004

On November 15, 1846
Venerable John Henry Newman wrote from Rome to a friend (one who later became an Oratorian):

Collegio di Propaganda, Nov. 15, 1846.
We have been at Rome three weeks next Wednesday, and in College nearly a week. They are wonderfully kind to us, we have everything our own way and, if we pleased, might be mere sight seers come to Rome to kill time (I suppose, however, they would not be pleased with us if we were). We are in daily lectures with the boys. We dine at 11½ and Sup at 8—both very good meals. At 7 A.M. have café au lait, and tea as we go to bed. They insist on the tea. They have put stoves in our rooms and anticipate all our wants. We have not yet been introduced to the Pope. The climate of Rome is trying—as variable as England, and some days very keen. We have seen Meyrick, who is very happy; we have been to the Passionists—but have seen more of the Jesuits than of any others. We have not yet seen anything of the Oratorians. We had a most pleasant time at Milan, and much regretted to leave it. We were lodged in a Priest's house, but quite to ourselves, and we employed ourselves in visiting Churches and attempting Italian. It was a time when most people, even Priests, were out of town; which would have been a loss, had we been better Italian scholars—and we were even glad to be to ourselves. We made one or two very pleasant acquaintances, besides dining at Count Mellerio's, who is a great person at Milan. Our passage to Genoa might have been much worse, but as it was, we had first to be shipped in boats (a little way past Pavia), when we rowed through the fields and woods of the place for an hour or so—then we had all our luggage opened under a most threatening sky, without any covering—then we were mounted atop of our own luggage in two one horse carts, riding backwards, for sundry miles, till night-fall—and then in the dusk and rain to be rowed across the mighty Po. The Jesuits are in great force at Genoa, the French Fathers having taken refuge there. We fell in with an Irish Novice, a very nice fellow, who was allowed to take us over the place—and with a French Father, who had been in England, and spoke English, of whom we saw a good deal. From Genoa we came to Civita Vecchia by the steamer, and went up by a railroad to Pisa on our way. See what a dull matter of fact letter I am writing, but I have not the pictorial power for any other—and you must take it as the best article I can produce ... There are above thirty languages in the town; we have been introduced to all the youths—as many as 30 (out of perhaps 120) speak English —but we are the only Englishmen. Everything goes on with quite a military punctuality—but the boys seem very happy and merry.

We hear no Politics here—but the English papers seem to be full of the Politics of Rome. The Pope's solemn Processo was this day week, when he gave his blessing from the loggia of St. John Lateran—it was a most wonderful sight. We saw him the very first morning we came, walking about St. Peter's, and stood quite close to him, and the first Mass we heard in Rome was his, and that at St. Peter's Tomb—a very unusual occurrence. St. John desires all kind remembrances—and now good bye.

Ever yours affectionately,

On the same day, Newman's friend Ambrose St. John wrote to the same man:

We have visited the seven Basilicas, the tre Fontane (St. Paul's place of martyrdom) St. Peter Montorio (St. Peter's) St. Clement's where lie St. Ignatius M. and St. Clement, (close as might be expected to the Colosseum); St. Ignatius Loyola's bedroom and the room where he wrote his constitutions; here also died St. Francis Borgia; there are in the Gesu also St. Stanislaus Kostka's bedroom at the Noviciate (where he died); also St. Philip Neri's relics, and what is most interesting the very little chapel in the Catacombs where his heart was enlarged. We have been extremely kindly treated, there is no doubt about it: two of the best rooms in the house have been selected for us, and fitted up with very handsome furniture new from top to bottom; which in Italy is a special compliment ... When we first came they seemed to propose that we should have our own way entirely, living here as [at] a lodging house, going to Church at a fashionable hour at the Church opposite, going in and out as we liked: but when they found that this would not do, they were evidently not unwilling that we should conform to the rules as much as we pleased, ourselves; and we are accordingly given three lectures a day. The rector was evidently pleased when Newman talked with him the other day, and spoke of the great sacrifice we chose to make &c. I wonder what he thinks we have been used to. We have everything in greater luxury than at Maryvale except fires which we might make up for with stoves. I cannot doubt however Newman does edify them in the true sense of the word by turning schoolboy at his age. For me it is all very well, and I have no doubt with time I shall not find old Perrone very dry. We shall move together and get on in spite of a cut and driedness which one may have to expect. What they will do with us I have no idea yet, we have not had any hints about ordination or anything else. All the authorities in the house are Jesuits, and the domestic places of responsibility are filled by Jesuit lay brothers: as doctor, porter, superintendent of the house affairs, &c. So much for our new school, for school it is, tho' for grown up boys albeit. There is every prospect of its being a very happy place to stop in. I hardly know what else to tell you—we have met the Ryders and a good many others that we know, amongst others Newman's friend and convert Miss Giberne.

St. John might well write how "Newman does edify them in the true sense of the word by turning schoolboy at his age"- he was the closest in age to Newman, being only fifteen years younger. All of the other students were in their early twenties at most- and at 45, the Venerable must have, well, stuck out a bit !


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