Wilberforce, Bertrand

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Dominican preacher and spiritual director; b. Lavington-with-Graffham, Sussex, Mar. 14, 1839; d. London, Dec. 14, 1904. His baptismal name was Arthur. His grandfather was William Wilberforce, famous for his advocacy in Parliament of the abolition of slavery. His father was Henry William wilberforce. In 1850, Arthur was received into the Church at the same time as his father. In 1853 he went to school at Ushaw, where in 1856 he decided to become a priest. After being ordained deacon he determined to enter the Dominican order. In April 1864 he therefore went to the Dominican priory at Wood-chester, was ordained on May 1 and clothed as a novice on May 7. He made his simple profession in 1865 and took solemn vows in 1868. After this he was assigned successively to various houses of the order in England. From 1872 to 1875 he was prior at St. Dominics in London, and in 1877 and 1878 he served as chaplain to the nuns at Stone, with whom he remained closely associated. From 1878 he was almost continuously occupied with preaching missions, retreats, and special sermons, and acquired a considerable reputation as a confessor and spiritual director. He was a person of outstanding gifts: of holiness, wisdom, charm, and eloquence. His published works included: Dominican Missions and Martyrs in Japan ; Life of St. Lewis Bertrand ; Memoir of Mother Francis Raphael Drane ; translations of Blosius, and several pamphlets, the most popular being Mental Prayer (Catholic Truth Society, London 1884).

Bibliography: w. gumbley, Obituary Notices of the English Dominicans from 1555 to 1952 (London 1955). h. m. capes, The Life and Letters of Father Bertrand Wilberforce (London 1906).

[s. bullough]