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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Cardinal in pink

Further to the story “Dem bones, dem bones, dem gay bones”, which we ran a week ago, it is interesting that Cardinal Newman and Father Ambrose St John feature prominently in Michael Elliman and Frederick Roll’s The Pink Plaque Guide to London, published by the UK Gay Men’s Press in 1986.

The guide lists where to find pink plaques on buildings in the capital that commemorate notable gay men and lesbians, and there are no fewer than five in honour of Newman. The text of the section on Newman relates:

When Ambrose died in 1875, the distraught Newman was inconsolable. He flung himself onto the death bed and remained with his friend all night. For the rest of his life he grieved for Ambrose and could never more hear his name without, as the Bishop of Birmingham noticed, “weeping and becoming speechless for the time”.

If this is accurate, it certainly shows that the relationship between the two men was more than mere friendship.

Incidentally, the text also points out:

[H]e had always been a controversial figure, castigated when an Anglican for being too close to Rome yet accused as a Catholic of being a freethinker and a dangerous influence.

The pink plaque scheme runs along similar lines to the more well-known blue plaque scheme.

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