The word “vignette” originally referred to a decoration of vine leaves and tendrils that were used to ornament picture frames, furniture, etc. Derivatively “vignette” has been used to designate a portrait that merges into its background; thus, in an extended sense, “vignette” might also be applied to “stories” that portray a person’s spiritual development in ways that straightforward biographical facts do not and cannot. In this latter sense, “pastoral vignettes” seem an appropriate way of describing stories about Newman’s many activities as a “pastor” or minister of the Gospel. Thus, these little anecdotes help to narrate the larger story of Newman’s life.
The following vignette focuses on the spiritual and pastoral qualities of Newman’s capacity for friendship.