If you have ever read a book about St David Lewis, you will be familiar with the name ‘Foley’. It seems that everyone who writes a book on the last Welsh martyr credits Foley as his source, or at least, as one of his sources. So, just who was/is Foley?
The ‘Foley’ in question is Henry Foley S J. Henry Foley was born in Worcestershire on 9th August 1811. His father was the curate in charge at Astley. He was educated at home and at a private school. Henry eventually became a solicitor.
In 1846, influenced by the Oxford Movement, he converted to Catholicism. Around 1851, Foley’s wife, Anne, died. He was admitted into the Society of Jesus as a lay brother. He was encouraged to prepare for the priesthood but he believed that Our Lady wished him to become a lay brother. Brother Foley undertook the enormous task of researching and writing the oft referred to and much quoted “The Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus”. This edifying gem is an invaluable repository of Jesuit history.
Brother Henry Foley S J died at Roehampton on 19th November 1891. He has been described as a virtuous man who spent every spare minute at prayer in the chapel. (With all that writing, full marks to Brother Foley for ever finding a ‘spare minute’.)