Student residences overseeing them

Newman emphatically believed that a university would provide a deeper formation if it were residential, and he took seriously the duty of care of looking after students who were living away from home.

On the dedication page of the Idea of a university Newman quotes a well-known phrase from the Gospel, Hospes eram, et collegistis me (Matthew 25:34). The phrase is usually translated along the lines ‘I was a stranger and you gave me shelter’, and at first glance appears to refer to those mentioned in the dedication that follows, to ‘his many friends and benefactors, living and dead, at home and abroad’, who had come to his aid during the Achilli trial; it could also be taken as referring to his Irish hosts who had welcomed the stranger from England.

But a third interpretation is also possible: by situating the phrase in a university context, Newman could be giving it a meaning along the lines of ‘I was a student and you ‘colleged’ me’ – collegistis being cognate with collegium (college) – and thereby a completely different emphasis. Seen in this light, the task of caring for students in halls of residence takes on an importance that approximates it to nothing less than one of the seven corporal works of mercy. (The seven traditional corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; and to bury the dead.)

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