No. 6

No. 8
Finding the Way Back

A City Set on a Hill

No. 07

A City Set on a Hill

Robert Hugh Benson (1904)

What could attract a famous clergyman and bestselling author to become a Catholic, and a Catholic priest? In this book, he tells us.


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About this book

Robert Hugh Benson was both a famous clergyman and a bestselling author. When he made the decision to become a Catholic, and a Catholic priest, it was at the time a shocking one. In this specially reprinted title, he explains why.

Benson’s father was the Archbishop of Canterbury; in 1895, he ordained Hugh an Anglican priest, the year before Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican priestly orders “utterly null and void”. Soon after, Archbishop Benson died, and Hugh became drawn to Anglo-Catholic ritualism, which his father had fiercely opposed. In 1903, he became a Catholic, and then a Catholic priest. His conversion caused much shock; A City set on a Hill tries to explain his reasons.

These are exclusively cast in abstract theological terms; Benson does not appeal to his own experience. Benson’s contemporaries expected human discourse to be rational, and people to be convinced by reasons clearly presented. The fact that Benson did not explain his conversion in that way makes his book very unlike most conversion stories written today.

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