Because he was one of the leading religious thinkers of the 19th century, Cardinal John Henry Newman‘s beatification by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2010 was a long awaited event for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. A poet, theologian, novelist, apologist, and pastor, as a convert he authored one of the greatest spiritual autobiographies in English, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864).Born to a Protestant middle-class English family on February 21, 1801, he was the oldest of six children. A gifted student, he entered Oxford at only 15 years of age. Newman briefly considered a secular career, but chose the ministry instead. Ordained at 23, he served in a parish before being appointed a Tutor at Oxford’s Oriel College, which provided a comfortable living in a fairly congenial academic setting. The future looked bright for Newman.