Blog Template Theology of the Body: More literary Catholics

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More literary Catholics

Although with Shakespeare the jury may be permanently out, apparently Oscar Wilde experienced a death-bed conversion to Catholicism:

In his Present Time Appraisal (1951), Mr St John Ervine makes an apposite comment upon the failure of Wilde’s power of speech. ‘The lord of language,’ he says, ‘so brilliant in his discourse on mundane matters, was silent in the hour of his most high decision: his tongue was tied in the presence of his Lord God. He was baptized and given Extreme Unction, but not the Sacrament, which he was now physically unfit to take.’

The last comment may well be left to Fr Cuthbert Dunne, who wrote feelingly of the great injustice ‘done to a dead man who can say no word in self-defence, and who, whatever his sins may have been, expiated them by suffering severe penalties: imprisonment, ostracism from the great world in which he had been an idol, loss of all that the cultivation of his brilliant talents had brought him, poverty in which he was left dependent on others for his sustenance. After all this, he turned to God for pardon and for the healing grace of the Sacraments in the end, and died a child of the Catholic Church.

I was a little surprised, and greatly comforted to stumble across this whilst conducting research this evening (as opposed to "research"), since Wilde's escapades and peccadilloes are so well known. It would be nice to see this facet of his life equally emphasized. There is nothing more important to life than the leaving of it, as they say. (And if they don't, they should.)