The Herbert Kelly Papers

Herbert Hamilton Kelly (1860-1950) was the founder of the Society of the Sacred Mission and Kelham Theological College.

This site contains information about Kelly’s life and work, including details of his published and unpublished writings and links to relevant resources and scholarship, about both Kelly and the Society of the Sacred Mission.

  • About Herbert Kelly

    A short biography of Herbert Kelly and a timeline of important dates in his life.

  • Writings

    A bibliography of Kelly's published and unpublished works, with links where available.

  • The Society

    A short history of SSM together with lists of key officals and locations.

During the Christmas holidays, Fr Huntington, superior of the American Order of the Holy Cross, visited Kelham, and returned to help as a tutor in the spring term of 1907. It was during this time that Kelly one day said to Fr Huntington, ‘Come, and I’ll show you my proofs of the existence of God’ – and showed him the Kelham pigs.

‘I love pigs. They are so delightfully ugly, and so blissfully self-satisfied about it. A fat old sow came waddling towards us, with its two huge ears pointing the way it should go. And the good Father looked puzzled. “Oh yes,” I replied, “if I had shown you stars, flowers, a sunset, you would have said, ‘Ah, how true,’ but I do not greatly need God in order to see that beautiful things are beautiful and – well – elevating. I do want to hear of a God who can discern a beauty and a joy and an eternal value in my poor pigs. If God also laughs softly over their funniness, I do not mind that. I do it, too.”

‘But it is not only pigs that are absurd and blissfully self-satisfied about it. And the only God who is any use to me is a God who understands that bundle of incompetence and commonplace, ugliness and self-satisfaction, which are the most obvious of my personality. If I could find a God who is interested in pigs, maybe he would be interested in me, too, even if he smiled a bit over my funny absurdities, as I like to think he does over the pigs.’

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