This passing week marked the 149th anniversary of Cardinal Hebert Vaughan being appointed as Salford’s Bishop, a role he served in for two decades.

In early October 1872, Herbert Vaughan was chosen to be Salford’s second, and youngest, Bishop. Regarded as a painfully shy clergyman, Vaughan served his community from Salford Cathedral for twenty years before reluctantly relocating to London and becoming the Archbishop of Westminster. His humility and his many charitable acts would eventually lead to him being recognised by the Pope and the Vatican.

Vaughan, the son of a wealthy Catholic family in Gloucestershire, renounced his inheritance to pursue his vocation as a priest. His family survived a particularly turbulent time for Catholics in the UK from the 16th-19th Century. He found his faith in God through his mother, starting his missionary work at an early age. Challoner Zon, Salford Cathedral’s Marketing Officer explained more:

“He gave up a life of wealth and privilege to go into the Church and by all accounts he was quite shy, pious but a really good fundraiser and he really knew how to get people interested in the mission of the church.”

Before arriving in Salford, Herbert Vaughan committed himself towards several notable causes, with two particular contributions to society he is most known for.

St. Bedes College was founded by Herbert Vaughn whilst he was Salford’s Bishop in 1875 (screenshot: Google Maps)

The Mill Hill Missionaries, one of the most well-known missionary groups within all of the Catholic Church, was one of the first Missions that Vaughan established in 1869 during his time in London. Before long, the mission had expanded across the world to the United States in which Vaughan himself would lead his own expedition to the south in order to establish a missionary society for African Americans who had been freed from slavery.

But perhaps Vaughan’s most notable contribution to the modern day Catholic Church was, his brainchild, the Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

The CTS was his own publishing company that distributes Catholic Literature including prayer books and spiritual writing. Vaughan was inspired to set up the company shortly before arriving in the area after seeing similar companies utilising the printing press to distribute their publications easily and at little expense.

“The Catholic Truth Society is kind of representative of his wider purpose…which he felt was evangelisation. He wanted to spread the word out to the world”.

“He saw the success in other denominations of Christianity of written, cheap to produce and cheap to consume written accounts of the religion – so he essentially started his own.”

This is perhaps his greatest standing legacy as the Truth Society is still in publication to this day and, quite fittingly, Salford Cathedral themselves stock copies of the publication too.

It was these many acts of Holy work that gained him recognition with the churchgoing community, which ultimately led to him being appointed at Salford’s own cathedral in the October of 1872.

The plaque commemorating Cardinal Vaughn in Salford Cathedral, it translates as “Behold the great priest” (credit: Archie Richards)

At only 40 years old, Herbert Vaughan would become the youngest Bishop in Salford’s history, which was an understandably daunting task for someone who was still a fairly young man in terms of priests.

“He may not have been reluctant (to take on the role) but it is obviously a big deal when you’re at that age and I think that he was very much a man who was pious and wanted to focus on God.”

“Often with Bishops, if they see that someone is going to be good in a position, they often bring them in from elsewhere, they don’t always have to be within the Diocese beforehand.”

During his time here in Salford, Vaughan established 40 individual missions. Along with this, Salford’s newest Bishop would donate his own residence on Chapel Street, creating a seminary for bringing new followers into the priesthood.

Vaughan is also responsible for founding Salford’s Children’s Rescue Society, a charitable organisation specialised in fostering, adoption, children & young people with disabilities, residential care for children which is still in operation to this day.

However Vaughan’s time in Salford was ultimately cut short and after some deliberation, and with a heavy heart, he was transferred to London to become Archbishop of Westminster in 1892. The next 12 months would prove to be very busy for Bishop Vaughn, as he was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the new Westminster Cathedral and he would be called upon by Pope Leo XIII to become a Cardinal.

Cardinal Herbert Vaughan would go on to spend the remainder of his life in Mill Hill, in the same mission he founded in 1869. He died in 1903 aged 71, just weeks before the completion of the cathedral he had been overseeing for over a decade. One of the first services held there once opened was the Cardinal’s own requiem.

Despite not being Salford-born and going on to do other things outside of the region, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan had a considerable impact on Salford and its wider Catholic and Christian community during his two decades here. And while Salford Cathedral have stated they do not currently have any plans to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the appointment of one of their most well-known Bishops just yet, there may be some form of collaboration with the CTS on the horizon which recently celebrated its own 150th anniversary in 2018.

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