His Conversion

Cardinal Manning’s thoughts on coming to the Catholic faith.

On April 6, 1851, Passion Sunday, Hope andI went to F. Brownbill, in Hill Street, and were received I before High Mass, he after it. So ended one life, and I thought life was over. I fully believed I should never do more than become a priest; about which I never doubted, or even wavered. But I looked forward to live and die in a priest’s life, out of sight. I went to St. George’s and saw the Cardinal; he fixed to give me Confirmation and Communion the following Sunday. He then told me he had decided to ordain me priest without delay, and that he did so with the knowledge and sanction of Rome.’

‘ . . . These events my ordination and my resi-dence in Rome were decided by authority for me, and I only obeyed, and from these all have followed now for twenty-eight years. … I remained in Rome from 1851 to 1854, going home during the great heat of summer to England. It was a time of great peace, but of great trial. . . . During those three years I received from Pius IX. a fatherly kind-ness. I saw him nearly every month, and he spoke with me freely on many things, and gave me freedom to speak to him. It was the beginning of the confi-dence which was never broken. I owe to Cardinal Wiseman and to Pius IX all that has befallen me in my Catholic life. I never asked of them, or of any-one in my former life, anything whatsoever. All that has come upon me has come without any seeking.’

I went into the Accademia on December 4, the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus,
in whose history is an event which always recalls to me an event in my own life. I remained in Rome from 1851 to 1854, going home during the great heat of summer to England. It was a time of great peace but of great trial. I found myself at forty -two among youths; and a stranger among foreigners — I had broken almost every old relation in the world, and was beginning life over again. During those three years I received from Pius IX. a fatherly kindness. I saw him nearly every month, and he spoke with me freely on many things, and gave me freedom to speak to him. It was the beginning of the confidence which was never broken.

I owe to Cardinal Wiseman and to Pius IX all that has befallen me in my Catholic life. I never asked of them, or of any one in my former life, anything whatsoever. All that has come upon me has come without any seeking. I was made a rector without being a curate, archdeacon without being a canon, provost without being canon also, and archbishop without being a bishop. During my time in the Accademia I came to know intimately a large number of men, Roman and others, filling public offices, and also the men who are now in chief places of responsibility were my companions and friends. I was at that time more at home in Rome than in England. I knew very well the chief Jesuits at the Gesu and the Collegio Romano, especially the Father- General, Beckx, at whose deathbed I was; Father de Villeput, Rubillon, Miguardi, Perrone, Passaglia, Ballerini, and Father Schrader. They were friends, and some of them my confessors and directors in study. I found the public schools did not give me what I needed. I therefore read as I was directed at home, and went many times a week to the Collegio Romano. (From Journal 19)

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