France Honors Oscar Wilde

The 19th century controversial writer Oscar Wilde was remembered and celebrated today in Paris with a memorial Mass, Reuters reports.

A graveside ceremony led by Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland marked the 100th anniversary of the flamboyant writer’s death (Nov. 30, 1900).

Wilde was remembered for his scandalous wit and Irish charm. The writer came to fame in the 1880s for his controversial plays and poems which sharply criticized Victorian society. Also known for his homosexual lifestyle, his career took a sharp nosedive when he was arrested in 1895 and jailed for two years for “gross indecency.”

While in jail, however, Wilde later wrote that he deeply regretted wasting his talent on an extravagant lifestyle and related himself to the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son –- the Gospel about forgiving a wayward son.

“Oscar Wilde knew only too well his human weaknesses and flaws of character, and yet sighed repeatedly for some things deeper in life,” said Father Thomas Scanlon, pastor of Saint Joseph’s, during today’s Mass. “In prison, he speaks of becoming a deeper man through suffering.”

Throughout the day, small groups of admirers showed up at his grave to leave bouquets of flowers or a single rose. Wilde died in his Paris hotel room from an ear infection that had spread to his brain. He was 46.