Newman continues to paint a picture of the history of universities and turns to the development of the medieval university, the fruit of Catholic scholars and a Christian culture. At the time the Danes invaded Ireland and England the missionaries of those countries took their learning to France where Charlemagne undertook a great work of promoting education and culture.

During the late Roman Empire the Church taught the clergy but the laity were educated for the most part in state schools. When the Roman Empire collapsed the Church began to educate both clergy and laity. Newman writes: “Henceforth, as all government, so all education, was to be founded on Revealed Truth. Secular teaching was to be united to sacred; and the Church had the supervision both of lay students and of profane learning.”

Alcuin, was an Englishman that took sacred and profane learning to the Frankish Empire setting up schools for clergy and laity. Newman traces Alcuin’s education to Rome.

“His history takes us back to that earlier age, when Theodore of Tarsus, Primate of England, brought with him thither from Rome the classics, and made Greek and Latin as familiar to the Anglo-Saxons as their native tongue. Alcuin was the scholar of Bede and Egbert; Egbert was educated in the York school of Theodore, and Bede in that of Benedict Biscop and of John precentor of the Vatican Basilica.”

According to Newman, Charlemagne laid down the principles for universities as we know them: institutions open to all classes of students and teaching all subjects. He first paid attention to the restoration of Episcopal Seminaries places of training for future clergy which had suffered from the Barbarian invasions. Newman notes that these institutions would last for four centuries when they were absorbed by universities, until the Council of Trent once again made them independent.

“To these Seminaries he added, what I have spoken of as his characteristic institution, grammar and public schools, as preparatory both to the Seminaries and to secular professions. Not that they were confined to grammar, for they recognized the trivium and quadrivium; but grammar, in the sense of literature, seems to have been the principle subject of their teaching. These schools were established in connexion with the Cathedral or the Cloister; and they received ecclesiastics and the sons of the nobility, though not to the exclusion of the poorer class.”

Charlemagne opened the way for what would one day be the Studium Generale, the University of Paris. In an early history of this University, Egaffius Bulaeus wrote of Charlemagne “It is indeed certain that he sought out learned men and celebrated teachers from all parts of the world, and induced them to accept his invitation by rewards and honours.” He wished to establish two kinds of schools, the less and the greater. The less were to reside in Bishop’s places and monasteries; the greater were for public places and for the education of students of every rank and class. He found examples of large public schools in the Ancient Schools of Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and Berytus. In the Benedictine monasteries he found examples of institutions with two kinds of schools, a greater and a lesser, according to their size. Laymen were also educated in the monasteries, but many of the most clever embraced the monastic life, and Kings had to seek monks to run the civil administration.

Charlemagne wished for lesser schools to be retained or set up in Bishops’ palaces but with a limited number of subjects. Instead he sought the creation of three schools of higher and public learning in important cities in his empire: Paris, Pavia and Bologna.

Newman will continue to describe the development of the University of Paris, the first medieval university and the unique contribution of Christianity to this great work.





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A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

Review by Catherine Maybanks
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Review by Serenheed James
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Fr Peter Conley takes us on an exciting journey into the spirituality and inner life of Saint John Henry Newman.

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I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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What is a Classical Liberal Arts Education? Why is it so important for the development of a person?

Fr. Juan R. Vélez answers these and more questions you might have about University Education in the 21st century. This book is aimed for parents, prospective University students, and educators. It will help you discern why adding Liberal Arts electives to your education will help it form it better, and help the student learn to reason, and not just learn.

He also explains how many Universities have changed the true meaning of Liberal Arts, and the subjects, and gives advise on how to choose College Campus, Subjects, and Teachers.

A wonderful book that every parent should also read way before your children are College bound. A Liberal Arts education can start earlier in life, even from home.

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In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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