°SCOTT: a Wide Influence
on England's. Catholicity
By the REV. JOHN COYNE
1793 ! In January King Louis XVI
was beheaded; by February England and France were at war; on October 12 the English College at Douai was closed. French refugee clergy flocked to England, where special collections were made for them in the Anglican churches. With them came the dispossessed students of Douai; after more than two centuries of exile English students could again be educated on English soil. In November. 1793, St. Edmund's, Ware, was formally opened; in October of
the following year Ushaw began at Crook Hall. So was the ancient Douai perpetuated.
Alone of the three great colleges Oscott was a purely native foundation. It owed its existence to the joint efforts of Bishop Talbot and the members of the Cisalpine Club to provide, The one a semioary, the others a good Catholic school in the Midlands.
The first president, Dr. Bew, arrived .in December, 1793. The following May the first Church students came; three months later the first lay student arrived. The college of Saint Marie at Oscott dates its foundation from May, 1794.
First Picture of Sacred Heart
Under Bishop Milner the management of the school passed entirely under episcopal control. He revised the syllabus and enlarged the buildings. It was in the chapel of this old college that the Sodality of the Sacred Heart was established by special indult of Pope Pius VII and here was unveiled the fast picture of the Sacred heart to be so honoured in this country.
Students came from both England and Ireland in ever-increasing numbers. Soon the college was too small for its purpose. Land was purchased in the neighbourhood and in 1838 the new college was opened with ceremonies more splendid than any such seen in England since the Reformation. For the first time since the Reformation, also, Catholics had a college which looked the part: Oscott recalled Wadham, and the genius and enthusiasm of Pugin made it a worthy successor of the Catholic colleges of old.
In 1840 Cardinal Wiseman became president. He made Oseott the Catholic counterpart of Oxford during the years of religious activity consequent upon the Tractarian movement, and all the most distinguished converts of the day found their way to the new Oscott.
Here were reconciled the sturdiness of the born Catholics, the culture and eagerness of the converts, the magnificence and
Roman pietas of the great president himself. Oscou became a meeting place of all who were most prominent in England's Catholic life. In three successive years its president entertained among his guests the Comte de Chambord. de jure Henry V of France; Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator; and Newman, most distinguished of the new converts.
Newman's Famous Sermon In 1852 the -first Synod of Westminster was held here, at which in the college chapel Newman preached his famous sermon. " The Second Spring."
As a school, also, Oscott exerted a wide influence upon Catholic England. The Church, Parliament, the Services, Medicine and the Bar all had their proportion of Oscotians, and during the presidency of Dr. Northcote Oscott won for itself the support not only of many English noble and county families, but likewise that of many Trish and foreign families of distinction.
The college was still prosperous when, in 1889, it was closed as a school to the laity. On July 30 of that year the college annalist wrote in the large volume which Weedall bad commenced in 1830: " here endeth the record of Si. Mary's College, Oscott."
Since September, 1889, Oscott has been purely a seminary. It was already attracting students from other dioceses which did not possess their own training centres before 1897, when, on the initiative of Cardinal Vaughan, it became the Central Seminary for the dioceses of the Midlands and the South. During the rectorship of Mgr. Parkinson it won an enviable reputation as a centre of liturgy, church music and social studies.
In 1909 the ecclesiastical authorities decided to discontinue the central seminary and Oscott once more became a diocesan institution. This, however, did not prevent it from still having an influence far beyond the boundaries of the diocese of Birmingham. It still catered for extra-diocesan students, and as at the beginning of the century it had made contact with the south, so in the years following the last war it was closely connected with the north, inasmuch as it gave shelter to the Liverpool students temporarily dispossessed of their own seminary. Even to-day it numbers among its resident alumni students from dioceses as far apart as Plymouth and Edinburgh.
A Centenary Three Years Ago
Three years ago the centenary of the new college was celebrated in the presence of the Cardinal-Archbishop and many Bishops. The history of both school and seminary was happily identified in the person of Mgt. Dey who sang the Pontifical Mass. He had been a boy at the school ; later he was a student at the seminary, and he became rector of Oscott in 1929.
What Is it that is particularly outstand
Mg about Oscan? It is not so much its glorious history, nor its famous museum with its MSS., relics of penal times and its vestments; rather is it the Oscotian spirit. That spirit has been achieved by the coming together of many elements. English and Irish; cleric and layman; convert and cradle Catholic; northerner and southerner—as well as the men from the Midlands, all have combined to give to 0.scott a wide and tolerant view. Wherever in England Oscotlans go they are at home, for they are never far from fellow Oscotians.
In 1944 Oscott will celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of its first foundation. Meanwhile, in spite of the times in which we live, it pursues its way under the leadership of the present rector, Mgr. Canon Emery, true to its old spirit of loyalty to Rome and Holy Church, and loyalty to King and country.