Monday, 15 October 2007

Seville's Illustrious Son

I was in Spain, recently, in the city of Seville. Its vast Cathedral is built over the former mosque and still employs the minaret as its bell tower. I wandered the streets early one morning, and came by chance upon this:

Which translates:

On 2 August 1802
was born in this house
Cardinal Wiseman
Archbishop of Westminster
Light of the Catholic Clergy
and glory of his homeland.
The esteemed Municipality
had this plaque erected
to preserve the memory of so illustrious a Sevillian.

Despite the information on the plaque, the future Cardinal's baptism record and the journal of his father gives the date of birth as 3 August. He was baptised the following day in the Church of Santa Cruz by an Irish Capuchin, Fr James Ryan, and given the names of Nicholas Patrick Stephen.

The child's grandfather, James Wiseman, of Waterford in Ireland, had settled in Seville at the end of the eighteenth century where he was in business as a merchant. The Cardinal's father, also James, was the youngest son, and was also a merchant. Nicholas was the son of James' second marriage to Xaviera Starange, whom he had married in 1800 while on a visit to London.

James died in 1804, and Xaviera took her young family to Ireland. However, Nicholas retained memories of the land of his birth, and recalled the sailors coming ashore after the Battle of Trafalgar.

The image below, from Cardinal Wiseman's tomb in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral, shows his ordination on 10 March 1825.

Cardinal Wiseman died on 15 February 1865, and his tomb now stands beneath the high altar of the Cathedral


Anonymous said...

i was wondering if it's possible to visit the crypt. is it open to the public ever/regularly?

Mark Langham said...

It is possible to visit the crypt, but only by appointment; access to the crypt does also permit access into some sensitive areas of the Cathedral and Choir School. If you e-mail the Cathedral manager on, she will arrnage a visit.