Posted by: frroberts | October 28, 2015

Oscar Wilde’s deathbed conversion

Original source

…Years later in 1895, after having achieved literary fame, [Wilde] was accused of sodomy, or of having committed homosexual acts, which was illegal in England at the time. After a lengthy public trial, he was convicted and sentenced to two years of hard labor.

During his time in prison his health declined, but he also experienced a spiritual renewal. Upon release, he made a request to the Society of Jesus for a six month retreat. Unfortunately, he was turned down. Reports say he wept at hearing the rejection. Nonetheless, he told a journalist regarding the Catholic Church, “I intend to be received before long.”

But he left England for France, where he lived for a few years depressed and in poverty, spending the little money he had on alcohol.

In 1900, he developed cerebral meningitis and became very sick. When it became clear he might die, his friend and apparent homosexual lover Robbie Ross who was with him called for a Catholic priest. When the priest arrived, Wilde requested to be received into the Catholic Church. The priest later recounted how it happened:

As the voiture [carriage] rolled through the dark streets that wintry night, the sad story of Oscar Wilde was in part repeated to me…

Robert Ross knelt by the bedside, assisting me as best he could while I administered conditional baptism, and afterwards answering the responses while I gave Extreme Unction to the prostrate man and recited the prayers for the dying.

As the man was in a semi-comatose condition, I did not venture to administer the Holy Viaticum [Eucharist]; still I must add that he could be roused and was roused from this state in my presence. When roused, he gave signs of being inwardly conscious…

Indeed I was fully satisfied that he understood me when told that I was about to receive him into the Catholic Church and gave him the Last Sacraments… And when I repeated close to his ear the Holy Names, the Acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity, with acts of humble resignation to the Will of God, he tried all through to say the words after me.

The next day, Wilde died.


Responses

  1. I read this with interest since my class is becoming familiar with his works such as “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

    Like


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