Herbert Thurston

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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. He served as headmaster at Wimbledon College for one term. In his day, he was considered something of an expert on spiritualism.


Herbert Thurston was born in London and educated at Stonyhurst and London University. He entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), and was master of Beaumont college from 1880 to 1887. Thurston was ordained in 1890.[1]

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 re-edited Alban Butler's Lives of the Saints (1926-1938). He was a close friend of the Modernist theologian, Father George Tyrrell, who was harshly sanctioned by the Church. Many of Thurston's articles show a skeptical attitude towards popular legends about the lives of the saints and about holy relics and his treatment of spiritualism and the paranormal was regarded as "too sympathetic" by some sections of the Catholic community.[2]

Thurston attributed the phenomena of stigmata to the effects of suggestion.[3]


  • Modern Spiritualism (1928)
  • The Church and Spiritualism (1933)
  • The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (1952)
  • Ghosts And Poltergeists (1953)


  1. ^ Keating, Karl. Controversies: High-level Catholic Apologetics, Ignatius Press, 2001, ISBN 9780898708288
  2. ^ Mary Heimann, "Thurston, Herbert Henry Charles (1856–1939)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2009 [1], accessed 29 March 2010
  3. ^ Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. p. 224. ISBN 1-57392-680-9