Re: Re: reorganisation and destruction of irish catholic churches

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[align=center:2wjsjraa]Newman and The Church

Newman in Dublin[/align:2wjsjraa]

Presided over by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Paul Cullen (1803-1878), a national synod of the Catholic bishops of Ireland sitting at Thurles, Co Tipperary in 1850, decided to establish a Catholic University of Ireland. Archbishop Cullen, then occupying the See of Armagh and formerly Rector of the Irish College in Rome, had made the acquaintance of John Henry Newman (1801-1890) when the latter was studying for the priesthood in the Eternal City. Following his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845, Newman, who had enjoyed a significant career at Oxford University, was ordained priest in 1847. Archbishop Cullen invited him to come to Dublin to lecture on mixed or non-demoninational education and also made Newman a tentative offer of the rectorship of the proposed university.

On accepting Cullen’s dual invitation, Newman came to Ireland in October 1851 and following a meeting with the committee charged with the setting up of the university he was appointed its rector on 12 November 1851. However, some difficulties arose and a lack of unanimity between the trustees of the new university meant a delay in calling Newman back to Dublin to make a start. Matters were eventually resolved and Newman was installed as rector on 4 June 1854 at High Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral. The University was officially opened at 86 St Stephen’s Green on 3 November 1854 and one of Newman’s first expedients was the provision of a university church. In fact, he had this in mind, he said, as early as any other work. For him the church would “recognise the great principle of the university, the indissoluble union of philosophy and religion”.

Newman looked at several sites for the church among them numbers 80 and 85 St Stephen’s Green, which were then on the market, but when the chance of purchasing number 87 presented itself he immediately took it. Not as imposing as either of the other considerable properties, it served Newman’s purpose extremely well. Almost immediately on signing the agreement of purchase in June 1855 he was able to commence the building of the church in the side and back gardens, which extended as far as the wall of Iveagh Gardens, as did the grounds of the adjoining properties.

Hungerford Pollen

To assist him in the building and decoration of the church Newman sought the help of his friend John Hungerford Pollen (1820-1902). They met in Oxford and Pollen, who had shown considerable artistic talent, was ordained an Anglican priest in 1845. He had designed and painted the ceiling of St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford and that of the Chapel of Merton College. He became a catholic in 1852 and was later editor of the Department of Art and Industry of the South Kensington (now the Victoria and Albert) Museum in London. At Newman’s request Hungerford became honorary professor of fine arts in the new university.

However, while Pollen was the architect, painter and decorator of the new church, the plan was Newman’s with the basic ideas stemming from his enthusiasm for the ancient basilicas of Italy but particularly the reconstruction of S Paulo fuori le Mura in Rome and the round arch style of the Basilica of St Boniface and St Ludwig’s Church in Munich, the latter serving as both parish church and the church of the Ludwig-Maximilian University.

Building by the firm of Deane and Woodward, which had been involved with the Engineering Department at Trinity College, Dublin and the building of the Kildare Street Club as well as constructions in Oxford and London, continued apace and the church, although not entirely finished, opened on Ascension Day, 1 May 1856. The final decoration was completed by the end of the summer. The cost was £6,500, almost double Newman’s original estimate. There were donations of £640, including £100 from Newman but, when hopes of securing a low interest loan from university reserves were dashed, Newman paid £3,000 from the surplus of funds subscribed for his defence in the Achilli trial (the apostate Dominican Giovanni Giacinto Achilli who successfully took an action for libel against Newman in 1852) and he borrowed £2,000 from the Birmingham Oratory – Newman, who was an Oratorian of St Philip Neri, had established a house of the order at Maryvale, Birmingham in 1848.

As well as continuing to act as superior of the Birmingham Oratory Newman remained as rector of the Catholic University until August 1859 although he had submitted his resignation as early as November 1858. He was not a practical organiser but, despite that, the University made slow, if steady, progress. Its trustees, mainly the four Catholic Archbishops, however, became a little concerned about justifying expenditure on it, particularly as most of the Catholic population of Ireland were only recovering from the effects of the disastrous famine of the 1840s. Besides Newman’s tendency to select English professors and officials to staff the University indicated a certain lack of sensitivity to Irish national aspirations.

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