Fr. Herbert Henry Charles Thurston, S.J. (15 November 1856 – 3 November 1939) was an English priest of the Roman Catholic Church, a member of the Jesuit order, and a prolific scholar on liturgical, literary, historical, and spiritual matters. In his day, he was regarded as an expert on spiritualism. Today he is remembered chiefly for his extensive contributions to the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Herbert Thurston was born in London and educated at Stonyhurst and London University. He entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), and was master of Beaumont College from 1880 to 1887. Ordained in 1890, he served as headmaster of Wimbledon College for a single term in 1893-4.
Thurston wrote more than 150 articles for the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907-1914), and published nearly 800 articles in magazines and scholarly journals, as well a dozen books. He also re-edited Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints (1926-1938). Many of Thurston's articles show a skeptical attitude towards popular legends about the lives of the saints and about holy relics. On the other hand, his treatment of spiritualism and the paranormal was regarded as "too sympathetic" by some within the Catholic community.
Father Thurston joined the Society for Psychical Research in 1919, and he was a friend of psychical researcher Everard Feilding. Thurston attributed the phenomena of stigmata to the effects of suggestion.
He was also a close friend of Father George Tyrrell, a fellow Jesuit priest who was harshly sanctioned by the Catholic Church for his Modernist theological opinions. Thurston died in London in 1939.
- Modern Spiritualism (1928)
- The Church and Spiritualism (1933)
- The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (1952)
- Ghosts And Poltergeists (1953)
- Surprising Mystics (1955)
- Keating, Karl. Controversies: High-level Catholic Apologetics, Ignatius Press, 2001 ISBN 9780898708288
- "Head Masters of the College". Wimbledon College. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
- Mary Heimann, "Thurston, Herbert Henry Charles (1856–1939)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2009 , accessed 29 March 2010
- Kripnal, Jeffrey John; Shuck, Glenn W. (2005). On the Edge of the Future: Esalen and the Evolution of American Culture. Indiana University Press. p. 229. ISBN 0-253-34556-1
- Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. p. 224. ISBN 1-57392-680-9
- Potts, Michael (3 July 2017). "Herbert Thurston". Psi Encyclopedia. Society for Psychical Research. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
- Eric Dingwall. (1951). Reviews. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 36: 718-723.
- C. C. Martindale. (1939). Father Herbert Thurston, S.J. 1856-1939. An Irish Quarterly Review. Vol. 28, No. 112, pp. 662–666.
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