Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1854, Wilde was baptized as an infant in an Anglican church. His mother, Jane, however, was drawn to Catholicism and would often visit Mass. When Oscar was a young child, she asked her local priest to instruct her children in the Catholic faith, though it’s unclear if she herself ever joined the Church officially.Share
Wilde, though he received some Catholic instruction, did not consider himself a Catholic growing up. While at Oxford for university studies, he started to seriously consider becoming Catholic, even becoming a priest. But he also joined the Free Masons around the same time, and commented he “would be awfully sorry to give it up if I secede from the Protestant Heresy.”
In 1877, at the age of 23, he traveled to Rome and had a meeting with Pope Pius IX that left him “speechless,” and he started reading the books of Bl. John Cardinal Newman. He is quoted as having said, the Catholic Church is “for saints and sinners alone – for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do.” In 1878, he befriended a priest and scheduled a date on which he would be received officially into the Church. But his family was against it: his father threatened to cut off his hands if he joined. At the last minute, Wilde decided against joining.
Years later in 1895, after having achieved literary fame, he was accused of sodomy, or of having committed homosexual acts, which was illegal in England at the time. After a lengthy public trial, he was convicted and sentenced to two years of hard labor. (Read more.)