Thurston, Herbert

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English writer; b. London, Nov. 15, 1856; d. there, Nov. 3, 1939. The only child of Dr. George Thurston, he was educated at St. Malo, France; Mount St. Mary's (near Sheffield); Stonyhurst College; and London University. On Sept. 28, 1874, he entered the Society of Jesus at Roehampton, near London. He taught at Beaumont College from 1880 to 1887. After theological studies at St. Bueno's, North Wales, and ordination there (1890), he held briefly a number of temporary appointments until in 1894 he joined the staff of the journal, the Month, in London, and held that post until his death. His contributions to that magazine and to others total more than 760 items; in addition, he contributed more than 180 articles to the Catholic Encyclopedia (190712 and supplements). His revision of Butler's Lives of the Saints in four volumes (v.1, 1926; v.2, with Norah Leeson, 1930; v.3, with Donald Attwater, 1932; v.4, with Attwater, 1938) is probably the greatest monument to his learning and industry (see butler, alban).

Thurston's interests were mainly historical, liturgical, and hagiographical. Through his writings (many of them unsigned), he had great influence in checking the growth of spiritualism after World War I, and through his exact scientific method, skeptical turn of mind, wide learning, and manifest desire for the truth, he attained a position of eminence and authority among scholars of his day both in England and on the Continent. His three most notable books, collected from contributions to the Month and published posthumously, concern the interrelationship of psychic phenomena and sanctity: The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (1952), Ghosts and Poltergeists (1953), and Surprising Mystics (1955).

Bibliography: j. crehan, Father Thurston: A Memoir with a Bibliography of His Writings (New York 1952).

[p. caraman]