Childhood

Tolkien's Catholic Faith came from his mother. He was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1892 and was one of two brothers born to Mabel and Arthur Tolkien. When Tolkien was three, the family decided to move back to England. Arthur Tolkien had to stay on in South Africa due to work commitments and was to follow his wife and sons shortly after. But this never came to be; he contracted rheumatic fever and died within weeks. He was buried in Bloemfontein.

Hardship now hit the Tolkien family and they ended up living in a small cottage in Sarehole, rural Birmingham. It was in this location, climbing in trees and playing in the local area, that Tolkien's love of nature was born; and the origins of the Shire took seed in his heart.

Due to their poor finances, Mabel Tolkien took to educating the children herself. She was capable in Latin, German and French and had other artistic abilities. At an early age John Ronald Reuel Tolkien displayed a love of books and languages; and became enamoured of fables and fairy stories, especially those involving dragons.

At this time Mabel Tolkien started her journey into the Catholic Church. She was baptized and was immediately cut off by her family. Any financial assistance she had received from both her own family and that of her late husband now ceased. She suffered persecution and life was a struggle without any monetary aid, but she never faltered in her love of the Church and her loyalty to her new found faith.

The stress of this hardship and lack of money took its toll; and consequently lead to her bad health. Tolkien was baptized as was his brother and after several moves into the city to find good schooling; Mabel Tolkien brought her family to Birmingham Oratory where she became good friends with the local parish Priest, Father Francis Xavier Morgan. Her health continued to deteriorate and after much suffering she slipped into a coma, and died. The year was 1904 and Tolkien was 12.

Tolkien and his brother were moved to live with their aunt, but Father Francis became a father-figure to the boys and showed them much care and love. Tolkien writes of Father Francis;

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