As I did this time last year I spent this morning giving a tour to a party of seminarians from St Paul's Seminary School of Divinity in St Paul Minnesota. They are visiting England to study in particular the life and thought of Bl. John Henry Newman, and I was again asked to provide a guided tour of places associated with Newman in central Oxford.
Here I was able to show them the chapel, little changed since Newman made his first communion there as an Anglican in 1817, the hall and, having pointed out the windows of one of the rooms he is known to have occupied, finally we looked at Newman's memorial bust in the grounds.
From Trinity we went past the Sheldonian Theatre, scene of the moves to condemn the Tracts, the Bodleian and the site of Newman's lodgings in 1822 and where he heard of his election to the Oriel Fellowship. At St Mary's, currently starting a major set of repairs and renovations, I was able to talk about the place of that church in the life of Newman and the Oxford Movement, with its mixture of acadmic preaching and pastoral care as well as pointing out the south porch and its controversial design incorporating a statue of the Virgin and Child from the time of Archbishop Laud.
As last year the group was photographed in the shadow of Newman's pulpit, and I then took them across the High Street into Oriel, showing them the chapel, with the various Newman links, and concluding with a visit to what is now known as the Newman Oratory above the entrance, and now with its modern commemorative stained glass window by Vivienne Haig.
The Window in the Newman Oratory
Image: Oriel college website
This afternoon the seminarians are going to visit the College at Littlemore, and, after more lectures in Oxford, will then go to visit Maryvale, Ocsott and the Birmingham Oratory at the beginning of next week.