Updated to reflect that this actually happened yesterday, rather than being “about to happen.”  Dang Google alerts.  It would be nice if they flashed messages that said “By the way, this alert is actually from an article three days ago, coffee-deprived blogger.”

I can’t imagine that this has never happened before, but hey, NPR says it’s news:

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will beatify John Henry Newman, bringing the 19th century British cardinal one step closer to sainthood.

Newman was a prolific writer and towering intellectual who converted from the Anglican Church to Catholicism — but one part of his life is something of a mystery.

His possible gayness!

“It’s not unreasonable to think he might have been homosexual,” says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of My Life with the Saints. “His letters and his comments on the death of one of his close friends are quite provocative.”

That friend was Ambrose St. John, a fellow convert and Catholic priest. Newman described St. John as “my earthly light.” The two men were inseparable; they lived together for 32 years. According to John Cornwell, author of a forthcoming biography called Newman’s Unquiet Grave, St. John helped Newman


When St. John died in 1875, Newman was devastated. “I have always thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband’s or a wife’s,” he wrote, “but I feel it difficult to believe that anyone’s sorrow can be greater than mine.”

Awww, they loved each other.

The article points out that Newman is the namesake for the Newman Centers which serve Catholic students at non-Catholic universities, so he was a very significant figure in the faith.