According to my Irish Times this morning (just about the only paper I can bear to read nowadays; despite the fact that even it has more than a whiff of the Grauniad about it) the Sovereign Pontiff is to visit Oxford next year. I expect there will be a lot of stuff about how he is the first Pope to come here ... Paenebeatus John Henry Newman, however, records in Loss and Gain a rumour that circulated in the febrile atmosphere of mid-forties Oxford:
"Have you heard the news?" said Sheffield; " I have been long enough in college to pick it up. The Kitchen man was full of it as I passed along. Jack's a particular friend of mine; a good honest fellow, and has all the gossip of the place. I don't know what it means, but Oxford has just now a very bad inside. The report is, that some of the men have turned Romans; and they say that there are strangers going about Oxford whom nobody knows anything of. Jack, who is a bit of a divine himself, says he heard the Principal say that, for certain, there were Jesuits at the bottom of it; and I don't know what he means, but he declares he saw with his own eyes the Pope walking down the High Street with the priest. I asked him how he knew it; he said he knew the Pope by his slouching hat and his long beard; and the porter told him it was the Pope ..."
Happy days, when Jesuits were sinister figures of subtle intrigue. BTW, the old Jesuit church of S Alyoggers, taken over by the Oratorians a few years ago when the Js became defunct, is looking very much the better for the change. A spectacular makeover is under way, and the Relic Chapel - also the seat of our Lady of Oxford - is going to look splendid. I hope Professor Ratzinger will have time to drop in there and admire the fresh paintwork.