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Frederick William Faber




Dates: 28 June 1814 to 26 September 1863

Nationality: English

Occupation: Oxford don, hymn writer, priest


Faber was ordained as an Anglican vicar in 1839 but was received into the Catholic Church in November 1845, one month after John Henry Newman. He was ordained as a priest in 1847, bringing with him the whole of the small religious community he had founded, with the exception of “the parson, the pew-opener, and two drunken men”. When Newman established himself at Maryvale, Faber again took his community with him and he accepted a humble role as novice under Newman. Towards the end of his life, he presided over the Brompton Oratory.


One of Faber’s best known hymns today is Faith of our Fathers.




“By the grace of God, and the love of Rome in my heart as you put it there, I am a Catholic.”


“Surely you at least cannot he so foolish as to suppose that any one is baptized into any particular, insular, national or provincial part or branch of the Church, or into anything short of the Catholic Church of Christ. It is there my allegiance is due.”


“I owe my allegiance to the Church into which I was baptized, the Church wherein my old forefathers died, the Church where I can help my later fathers who died away from her in their helpless ignorance ; and, like the stolen child who has found his mother, her loving reception and the outbreak, the happy outbreak, of his own instinct tell him, and have told him, more truly than all the legal proofs of parentage can do, that this, and this only, is the true mother who bore him years ago to God, and welcomes him now, in a way that humbles him most of all, without suspicion, probation, or reproof.”


“Are all the Churches branch Churches?  Is there no trunk Church ? If there is, where is it ? If it be the Roman, a branch cut off, solemnly sawed away by the teeth of an excommunication, need not boast much of its branchship.”


Further resources


See here for a massive amount of material about and by F W Faber. Most of the above quotations come from the life and letters of 1845.





© Ray Chidell 2010