Roads to Rome: A Guide to Notable Converts from Britain and Ireland from the Reformation to the Present Day. By John Beaumont. (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press. 2010. Pp. xiii, 493. $55.00. ISBN 978-1-58731720-0.)
For Victorian Catholicism, the Catholic Emancipation of 1829 and the reestablishment of a Catholic hierarchy in 1850 restored national identity and respectability to believers villainized and marginalized for 300 years. John Henry Newman's rightly famous "Second Spring" sermon on July 13, 1853, heralded a new era that augured well for the Church's future in Great Britain. W. Gordon Gorman documented Catholic success in "Rome's Recruits": A List of Protestants Who Have Become Catholics since the Tractarian Movement (London, 1878). Subsequent editions were published, with the last appearing in 1910.
The rush of Protestants, especially English Anglicans, to the Church of Rome over the last three decades has occasioned the odd reference to a "third spring." If so, legal consultant and freelance writer John Beaumont assumes the Gorman role. Beaumont became a Roman Catholic in 1980, later compiling Converts to Rome: A Guide to Notable Converts from Britain and Ireland during the Twentieth Century (Port Huron, MI, 2006). Three works followed: Converts from Britain and Ireland in the Nineteenth Century (Port Huron, MI, 2007), Jewish Converts (Port Huron, MI, 2007), and Early Converts (Port Huron, MI, 2008). In his introduction to Converts to Rome, published as an appendix to this volume, Stanley L. Jaki, O.S.B., clearly connects the works of Beaumont and Gorman and considers the former as a revival of "a most praiseworthy enterprise which came to an end shortly before World War G (p. 473)- Perhaps it is slightly disingenuous of Beaumont not to acknowledge Gorman's work in his introduction. Without Gorman, Beaumont's task would have been much harder. Gorman, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and the Catholic Encyclopedia (generally the old rather than the new edition) provide Beaumont with most of his biographical data, but Beaumont must have scoured numerous autobiographical works in his search for the motives behind the conversion. …