Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Thomas Edward Bridgett

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Priest and author, b at Derby, England, 20 January, 1829, of Protestant parents; d. at St. Mary's Clapham, 17 February, 1899. His father was a silk manufacturer, and sent his son first to Mill Hill, a Congregationalist College near London, then to Tonbridge, a Church of England public school, where he was baptized at the age of sixteen, and finally, in October, 1847, to St John's College, Cambridge, the home of Blessed John Fisher whose life Father Bridgett afterwards wrote. In 1850, while an undergraduate, he left the university being unable to accept the oath of Royal Supremacy which was then required before taking a degree. Shortly afterwards, having attended Dr. Newman's lectures on "Anglican Difficulties" at the London Oratory, he was received into the Catholic Church by the Oratorian, Father Stanton, 12 June, 1850, and on 15 October of the next year made his religious profession in the Redemptorist novitiate of St. Trond, Belgium. He pursued his theological studies at Wittem in Holland and was ordained priest in August, 1856. After being five years minister and consultor to the vice-provincial in Clapham, the London house of his Congregation, he went to Limerick for nine years, where as rector he founded, in 1868, the celebrated Confraternity of the Holy Family for men. This soon consisted of over 5,000 active members, the largest association of its kind in any one locality, in the Church. In 1871, he returned to Clapham as rector, where he spent the greater part of his remaining years.

Father Bridgett was a missionary like all the members of his Congregation, but with advancing years he devoted himself to giving retreats, particularly to the clergy. It was not till 1867 that he turned his thoughts to writing a sermon on ritual developing into his first book, "In Spirit and in Truth". This work was called in later editions "The Ritual of the New Testament". It was followed in 1875 by "Our Lady's Dowry", showing by many illustrations from history and literature the devotion of medieval England to the Mother of God. In this and in "The History of the Holy Eucharist in Great Britain", a work on the same plan published in l881, the author shows a learning which is truly encyclopedic. The "Life of Blessed John Fisher", which led to a correspondence with Mr. Gladstone, followed in 1888; "The True Story of the Catholic Hierarchy deposed by Queen Elizabeth", a work written in conjunction with Father Knox of the Oratory, came out in 1889; "Blunders and Forgeries", a very fine piece of cross-examination, in 1890; and the "Life of Blessed Thomas More", his most popular work, in 1891. Father Bridgett also published devotional verse of considerable merit, both in a collection which he edited called "Lyre Hieratica", and in "Sonnets and Epigrams", an entirely original work. He died after a long and painful illness and was buried in the Catholic cemetery at Mortlake, near London.

RYDER, Life of Thomas Edward Bridgett (London, 1906); The Messenger (New York, June, 1907); The Tablet, files (London, Feb. 1899).