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J. R. R. Tolkien

Born: January 3, 1892

Died: September 2, 1973

There are still many people who do not realize Tolkien was Catholic. They know him only as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But this is because Tolkien seeks to work on us in more subtle ways.

Tolkien in a letter dated December 2, 1953 writes:

“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revisions. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism. However that is very clumsily put, and sounds more self-important than I feel. For as a matter of fact, I have consciously planned very little and should chiefly be grateful for having been brought up (since I was eight) in a Faith that has nourished me and taught me all the little that I know . . . ” (Letter 142).

Here we see Tolkien reflecting back on The Lord of the Rings, seeing it as an inherently Catholic work precisely because it was written by a man who sees the world from, who understands reality with, a Catholic imagination.

David Russell Mosley

More about Tolkien:

Find a model of faithfulness in J. R. R. Tolkien’s simple spirit

Tolkien believed that everything—trees, grass, hobbit, elf—is bound up in the presence of Christ on earth.

Image: Public Domain