Ignatius of St. Paul (George Spencer)
What right then, thought I, had Luther and his companions to set themselves against the united voice of the Church? I saw that he rebelled against the authority of God when he set himself up as an independent guide. He was bound to obey the Catholic Church: how should I then not be equally bound to return to it? And need I fear that I should be led into error, by trusting myself to those guides to whom Christ himself thus directed me? No! I thought this impossible…My resolution is made; to-morrow I wilt be received into the Church, We lost no time in dispatching a messenger to my father, to inform him of this unexpected event: as I was forming my last resolution, the thought of him came across me: will it not be said, that I endanger his very life by so sudden and severe a shock? Ought I not, in deference and in tenderness towards him, at least, to go home and break it gently to him? The words of our Lord rose before me, and answered all my doubts: “He that hateth not father and mother, and brothers, and sisters, and houses, and lands, and his own life, too, cannot be my disciple:’ To thee Lord, then, I trusted for the support and comfort of my dear father under the trial; which in obedience to his call, I was about to inflict upon him. I had no further anxiety to disturb me: God alone knows the peace and joy with which I laid me down that night to rest. The next day, at nine o’clock, the Church received me for her child.
– from A Short Account of the Conversion of the Hon. And Reverend G. Spencer to the Catholic Faith.
Ignatius of St. Paul (George Spencer) (1799-1864) was a son of the Second Earl of Spencer and an Anglican priest who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1830. Two years later he was ordained a priest of the Catholic Church and in 1847, after meeting Father Dominic Barberi – who was instrumental in converting Spencer’s contemporary, John Henry Newman – he entered the order to which Father Barberi belonged, the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists) and took one of the early Church fathers, St. Ignatius of Antioch, as his religious name. Following in Barberi’s footsteps, Spencer made it his life’s work to aid in re-converting England to the Catholic faith. As a member of the Spencer family – among the highest nobility in England — he is related to both Winston Churchill (to whom he bore a remarkable resemblance) and Princess Diana (to whom he bore no resemblance whatsoever.)