Wilde, who died in 1900 after finding God and converting to Roman Catholocism on his deathbed, has long been regarded by the Vatican as a dissolute homosexual who was sentenced and imprisoned for acts of gross indecency over his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas.

However in a review of a new study, The Portrait of Oscar Wilde by the Italian writer Paolo Gulisano, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said that Wilde was much more than “an aesthete and a lover of the ephemeral”.

He had been “one of the personalities of the 19th century who most lucidly analysed the modern world in its disturbing as well as its positive aspects”, the review said.