John Henry Newman was born in London on 21st February 1801. His family were members of the Church of England but without any strong religious commitment.
In 1817 when he was sixteen he entered Trinity College, Oxford as an undergraduate. Five years later he was elected to a Fellowship at Oriel College. He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman.
When studying the history of the early Church Fathers, Newman was perturbed to discover that the doctrinal position of the Anglican Church in his own day bore a close resemblance to some of the heretical currents that had emerged in the theological controversies of the early centuries.
He withdrew from Oxford in order to think and pray. For three years he lived a quasi-monastic life, praying for guidance. By 1845 his mind was clear, and on 9th October that year he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Father (now Blessed) Dominic Barberi.
During his old age he continued quietly in the Birmingham Oratory which he had founded, devoting his time to preaching, writing, and spiritual direction. In 1879 when Fr. Newman was seventy eight, Pope Leo XIII made him a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, as a tribute to his outstanding erudition and piety.
He died in the Birmingham Oratory of pneumonia on the 11th of August 1890. In 1991 John Henry Newman was proclaimed ‘Venerable’, and on 19th September 2010 Pope Benedict XVI beatified him at Cofton Park in Birmingham.