Apologia pro Vita Sua
John Henry Newman (1801-90) described writing this account of his religious development as 'one of the most terrible trials that I have had'. Having inspired and led the Oxford or Tractarian Movement before he abandoned Anglicanism for the Church of Rome, Newman regularly found himself the target of virulent anti-Catholic prejudice in Victorian England. The Apologia was his autobiographical response to a public attack by the novelist Charles Kingsley on his personal integrity. With it he not only convinced a suspicious public of the sincerity of his beliefs, but he also produced a literary masterpiece which has often been compared with St Augustine's Confessions. The Apologia, which ends with a brilliant defence of Catholicism, was a turning-point in English cultural history, successfully challenging the dominant tradition of 'no Popery'. For Newman personally the work was a 'mental child-bearing' as he recounted the dramatic story of a conversion which rocked the Church of England to its foundations and which was to have profound consequences for the Roman Catholic Church.
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