Among the many eminent Englishmen who have returned to the Church of their fathers during the past fifty years two figures stand out with extraordinary distinctness – John Henry Newman and Henry Edward Manning, second Cardinal – Archbishop of Westminster, England. It is of the latter that we propose to give a brief sketch. Henry Edward Manning came from a family of wealthy merchants, and was born at Totteridge, Hertfordshire, 15 July 1808. His youth was passed amid an anti-papal atmosphere, and his education was begun at Harrow and completed at Baliol College, Oxford, whence ho graduated in 1830. He was chosen a fellow of Merton College, and in 1834 was appointed rector of Lavington, in Susses, where he quietly labored for six years, when he was elected Arch-deacon of Chichester. It was about this time that the remarkable movement known as Tractarianism, which was led by such men as Newman, Pusey, and Keble, began to engage the attention of the most cultivated minds in Great Britain. Newman and Pusey were preaching sermons inculcating the Heal Presence as a cardinal belief, fasting and mortification, and indeed everything Catholic except apostolic authority. But, though an admirer of Newman, Dr. Manning was ranked rather as a Puscyite, for he directed his efforts towards reforming the Anglican Church rather than to lead her to Home. Many persons sought him for advice in their theologic doubts; his reputation and influence increased in proportion as his talents were employed, and in 1841 he was appointed one of the select preachers of the university, which opened to him a spleudid opportunity to aid the movement.
For eight years tract succeeded tract; newspapers, pamphlets, sermons contributed to shake Protestantism with the fear of “Romanizing” the Church of England, when the crisis was reached by the publication of the famous “Tract 90,” in which Dr. Newman summed up the whole scope of the movement and pointed out its tendency. Dr. Newman was admonished by his bishop, and his doctrines were condemned by the university authorities. He quietly retired to Littlemore, where on the 9th of October, 1845, he was received into the Catholic Church.
Dr. Manning, up to the time of the secession of Dr. Newman, had taken no active part on either side of the controversy, but had stood, as it were, between the two sections of his church, though his sympathies were with Dr. Pusey. But his influence in his diocese and the university had increased, and he was looked up to and appealed to. The conversion of Dr. Newman, however, turned his thoughts into other channels, aud events soon awakened doubts in his mind whether the Anglican Church was not a “house built on sand.” While passing through this season of doubt he ceased to preach. In 1849 a Rev. Mr. Gorham was appointed by the lord-chancellor to a living in Devonshire. In the course of the ordinary examination by the bishop of the diocese it was discovered that Mr. Gorham did not believe in baptismal regeneration, whereupon the bishop very properly refused to install him into the benefice. Mr. Gorham brought his case before the Court of Arches, which sustained the decision of the bishop ; finally the case was appealed to the “Queen in Council.” It was decided by the Council that,” notwithstanding his denial of baptismal regeneration, Mr. Gorham was entitled to act as a clergyman of the Church of England.” Against this decision Dr. Manning, at the head of a large number of clergymen and laymen, published a declaration that “we do not, and in conscience cannot, acknowledge in the crown the power to hear and judge the internal state or merits of spiritual questions touching doctrine or discipline, the custody of which is committed to the church alone by the law of Christ.” This protest being unheeded, Dr. Manning gave up his preferments and sent in his resignation. His bishop refused to accept it at first, and from all sides he was implored to remain in the Establish ment. But conscience called him away, and he persisted. The struggle ended on Palm Sunday, 1851, when lie was received into the Church by Cardinal Wiseman. In the same year, we may remark in passing, thirty-six Anglican clergy men were received into the Catholic Church, of whom seventeen became priests.
One week after his reception into the Church Dr. Manning was admitted to minor orders and received the tonsure at the hands of Cardinal Wiseman. In Home he completed his preparations and was admitted to the priesthood. In 1854 he returned to England, and was appointed to a humble chapel, over a stable, in a crowded district of Westminster. But to this lowly house of worship came not alone his poor Catholic parishioners, but many of the wealthy Anglicans, to listen to the prized one who had left them for conscience’ sake, and to witness his life of self-sacrifice. Cardinal Wiseman soon discovered the talents of his new subject, and in 1857 he appointed Dr. Manning rector of Saint Mary’s, Bayswater, where the latter founded the Oblates of Saint Charles. About this time the doctorate was conferred on him by Pope Pius IX, and in due time he was elevated to the rank of provost of the chapter of Westminster, and prothonotary-apostolic. Though pursuing the labors of a priest, Dr. Manning was still sought after by Tractarians in doubt, and was the instrument of leading many to the Church. His pen was also busy, and he was a frequent contributor to the Dublin Review and other periodicals.
On 15 February, Cardinal Wiseman died, leaving behind him a reputation for high character and learning which made the choice of his successor a difficult one. This choice fell upon Dr. Manning, who was returned by the clergy of the diocese as dignissimus to the Holy See. Pope Pius IX gladly confirmed the nomination, aud, with solemn ceremonial, Monsignor Manning was consecrated Archbishop of Westminster on 8 June 1865, at Saint Mary’s, Moorfields. In September of the same year he received the pallium from the hands of the Pope, at Rome. But still higher honors awaited him, and on March 15, 1875, Pope Pius IX announced that he had called Archbishop Manning to the Sacred College of Cardinals, which announce ment gave universal satisfaction.
Cardinal Manning is well known as an able author as well as an eloquent preacher. Says a writer in the Catholic World:
“He is excessively popular among the working-classes, Protestant as well as Catholic; and there is no one in the metropolis who exerts a wider influence than he. He has done more than all other men in London combined to mitigate the evils of intemperance and to promote habits of sobriety and virtue. His total abstinence army is to be counted by scores of thousands, and occasionally, when they come in regiments and with banners and music to visit him, Vauxhall Bridge Road and all its approaches are taken by storm. It is delightful to hear him address his people on such occasions, still more delightful to see him going among them, apparently knowing each one of them individually, and greeting them as a father greets his beloved children. Mr. Disraeli modelled his Cardinal Grandison in Lothair upon Cardinal Manning, and pictured him as he is when moving in the society of the great and noble; but he is perhaps most majestic and most truly grand when in the midst of the poor and humble of his flock. He is a true shepherd – the sheep know him and he knows his sheep.”
Cardinal Manning’s personal appearance is thus described by an American Protestant who visited him:
“To say that he had a striking face is too weak an expression. His countenance had a strange and complex mixture of intellectual power and of benignant graciousuess. There was an appearance of the complete extinction of anything like the lines of earthly passion; and a sublimated spirituality seemed to possess him from the toe of his foot to the crown of his head. His features wore finely cut, but they were pain fully thin and worn. His strangely luminous eyes seemed to look one through and through. As he came toward us he seemed wonderfully like the well-known portrait of the great Florentine Dante – in the blending of magnificent intellectual strength with austere yet tender dignity.”
He is the author of several books, nearly all of which were written to defend some truth or counteract some error of the day, and are, therefore, all subjects that attracted attention at the time of their appearance. The most, popular of them are The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost, Love of Jesus to Penitents, Temporal Power of the Pope, Sin and its Consequences, England and Christendom, The Vatican Decrees, Glories of the Sacred Heart, Sermons on Ecclesiastical Subjects, Miscellanies, etc., etc.
- “Cardinal Manning”. , 1881. CatholicSaints.Info. 14 January 2017. Web. 28 March 2017. <>