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Ambrose Maria St. John
(1815 - May 24, 1875) U.K.

Ambrose St. John

Catholic priest


Ambrose was the son of Henry St. John, descended from the Barons St. John of Bletsoe. He was educated at Westminster School, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated M. A. and where he formed his lifelong, intimate friendship with Newman.

In 1841 he became curate to Henry Wilberforce, first at Walmer, subsequently at East Farleigh. He then joined Newman at Littlemore which he left, on his conversion to the Catholic Church, about a month before Newman's conversion in October, 1845. After a short time spent with Newman at Maryvale he accompanied him to Rome where they were ordained priests.

Having become Oratorians, they began mission work in Birmingham (1847), removing to the suburb of Edgbaston in 1852. There he devoted himself entirely to missionary work, taking a leading part in the work of the Birmingham Oratory and its school.

He was a classical scholar and a linguist both in Oriental and European tongues. His death was caused by overwork in translating Josef Fessler's book on papal infallibility, when Newman's discussion with William Gladstone was pending.

He was a man of marked individuality and Newman paid tribute to him in his Apologia. In The Dream of Gerontius, Edward Elgar's piece based on Newman's poem, the character of the Guardian Angel is considered to be based on St. John. In accordance with his expressed wishes, Newman was buried in St. John's grave.


The gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said:

"There is little doubt that Newman and St John were gay and had a loving, long-term same sex relationship. It is impossible to know whether this relationship involved sex. It is conceivable that both men had a gay orientation but chose to abstain from sex. Abstinence does not alter a person's sexual orientation."
Newman & St. John
Portrait of John Henry Newman (right) and Ambrose Saint John (left) by Maria Giberne, 1847


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - et alii

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