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Nicholas Wiseman was not yet 26 years of age when he became rector of the English College in Rome. Pope Leo XII then made him curator of Arabic manuscripts in the Vatican, and professor of Oriental languages at the Roman University. But in 1840 this brilliant scholar returned to England, where he did much to bridge the gap between the Oxford Movement and the English Catholic community.
However in 1850 Wiseman found himself at the centre of a violent political storm when Pius IX named him first Archbishop of Westminster. Wiseman’s coach was pelted with stones; the cry of ‘Papal Aggression’ was taken up in official circles; and it was only Wiseman’s eloquent pamphlet Appeal to the English People which served to usher in a more tolerant attitude.
Brian Fothergill’s biography, first published in 1963, is a discerning study of the man who laid the foundations of the Catholic revival.
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