Mgr Martin Molyneux

Vice-Rector of the Beda College


Martin Seddon Molyneux, priest and teacher: born Westhoughton, Lancashire 30 April 1923; ordained priest 1965; staff, Pontifical Beda College 1968-86, Vice-Rector 1976-86; Parish Priest, Claughton-on-Brock 1987-99; died Allithwaite, Cumbria 22 November 2006.

Martin Molyneux was responsible for the formation of a generation of Roman Catholic priests. He taught for 18 years at the Beda College in Rome, latterly, from 1976 to 1986, as Vice-Rector with some 60-70 seminarians in his charge. His intellectual rigour was exacting, even for some daunting, but balanced by warmth, humour and wit. He came from a generation that eschewed self-aggrandisement, and personally was so modest and self-effacing that he would never have suspected his influence.

A former distinguished student wrote of him: "Martin Molyneux was everything that I would have liked to be, but could never achieve."

The Pontifical Beda College, as it was formally called from 1898, was founded in 1852 by Pope Pius IX to prepare English convert clergy and "late vocations" for the priesthood, and it remains Rome's priestly training school for English-speaking men of more mature years.

Molyneux himself had been a convert. Born in 1923, he was one of a number of intellectually distinguished Lancastrians whose early promise was nurtured by the education they received at Wigan Grammar School - albeit if, in Molyneux's case, he attended less regularly owing to ill-health. He came from an old Westhoughton family - his brother Edward traced their line back to Norman times - and he grew up at the family's terraced home at 89 Market Street, Westhoughton, which doubled up in the front room as his father's shoemaker's shop.

However, his parents did provide him with a home tutor, and he was also coached at home by "Eddie", his equally brilliant older brother, and he once said he could not have received better tuition. Other notable ex-pupils of Wigan Grammar School included the brothers' lifelong friends Derek Latham, a future Professor of Arabic at Edinburgh, and James Crompton, another Westhoughton boy and the authority-to-be on Wyclif and the Lollards and church architecture.

After Italian and Philosophy at Manchester University, Martin followed Eddie up to what was then St Catherine's Society, Oxford, living for some of the time in the home of Professor Paul Kahle, editor of the critical edition of the Hebrew Bible. He read Theology, graduating in 1950, and his BLitt was on Dante. While at Oxford he won the Italian Essay Prize. After the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, his academic abilities were put to use teaching. He was ordained in 1965 and joined the staff of the Beda College three years later.

He was much at home in Rome. A considerable linguist (he served as a holiday replacement for priests in French- and German-speaking countries, even giving sermons in Swiss-German), he was a master of Italian, yet infinitely patient with those who struggled in vain to emulate his own expertise in that language. He introduced seminarians to famous places like the Opera and Santa Cecilia for music, and the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, where the fireflies glow at eventide; he schooled his student priests in the delights of traditional Italian cuisine. He was a deeply learned teacher and a cultural and theological universalist.

As a former Anglican, Martin Molyneux was keenly ecumenical and applied himself in Rome to developing good relations between the English-speaking Christians there, being a close friend of Harry Smythe, for long the Director of the Anglican Centre. Back home he carried on his ecumenical work, both in his parish of Claughton-on-Brock in the Forest of Bowland in central Lancashire, and on a national level, eventually as Chairman of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission.

As his health declined and retirement loomed, his retreat to Boarbank Hall, near Grange-over-Sands, and the community of Augustinian Sisters saw, as Brian Noble, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, put it in his funeral homily, the wheel come full circle. Years before, when afflicted with the illness that had left him permanently susceptible to chest infections, Molyneux had gone there and found

an environment of wholeness and holiness. Being able to return for his last years, he never failed to regard as a total blessing and a gift for which he constantly gave thanks.

His funeral mass in Boarbank's chapel was concelebrated by three bishops and more than 30 priests.

Roger Noël Smith

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Developer (ASP.NET, F#, SQL, MVC, Bootstrap, JavaScript)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?