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Thomas Canon Flanagan



Born in England in 1814, though Irish by descent; died at Kidderminster, 21 July, 1865. He was educated at Sedgley Park School. At the age of eighteen he proceeded to Oscott - that is "Old Oscott", now known as Maryvale - to study for the priesthood. The president at that time was Dr. Weedall, under whose supervision the present imposing college buildings were about to be erected. The students and professors migrated there in 1838, after the summer vacation, Flanagan being thus one of the original students at the new college. There he was ordained in 1842, Bishop (afterwards Cardinal) Wiseman being then president. At this time Oscott was the centre of much intellectual activity, many of the Oxford converts during the following years visiting the college, where some made their first acquaintance with Catholic life. Flanagan, who throughout his course had been an industrious and persevering student, was asked by Wiseman to remain as a professor, and as such he came into contact with the new converts, his own bent towards historical studies creating a strong bond of sympathy between him and those who had become convinced of the truth of Catholicism on historical grounds.

In 1847 Flanagan brought out his first book, a small manual of British and Irish history, containing numerous statistical tables the preparation of which was congenial to his methodical mind. The same year he became prefect of studies and acted successfully in that capacity until 1850, when he was appointed vice-president and then president of Sedgley Park School, and he became one of the first canons of the newly formed Birmingham Diocese in 1851. The active life of administration was, however, not congenial to his tastes, and he was glad to resume his former position at Oscott in 1853. It was at this time that he began writing his chief work, a "History of the Church in England". In order to allow him more leisure for this, he was appointed chaplain to the Hornyold family at Blackmore Park, and his history appeared in two volumes, during his residence there, in 1857. It was at that time the only complete work on the Church in England continued down to present times, and, though marred by some inaccuracies, on the whole it bore witness to much patient work and research on the part of the author. His style, however, was somewhat concise, and Bishop Ullathorne's remark, that Canon Flanagan was a compiler of history rather than a vivid historian, has often been quoted. The year after the appearance of his Church history, we find Flanagan once more installed in his old position as prefect of studies at Oscott, where he remained for eighteen months, when his health gave way. The last years of his life were spent as assistant priest at St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham. He died at Kidderminster, whither he had gone for his health.

BERNARD WARD








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