Newman to be canonised next Sunday

Pope Francis will canonise Blessed John Henry Newman in St Peter’s Square next Sunday 13 October. This will make Newman the first English person who has lived after the 17th century to be officially recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church.

John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890) was ordained as a Church of England priest and soon became the leader of the Oxford Movement, but converted to Catholicism in 1845. He founded the Oratory in England and was later made a cardinal. He is widely considered to be one of the most significant figures of the 19th century. When he died at the age of 89, more than 15,000 people lined the streets of Birmingham for his funeral.

The cause for his sainthood was opened in 1958. Pope Benedict XVI declared him Blessed in Birmingham in 2010 on his visit to Britain. The canonisation was made possible by a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Henry Newman, consisting in the medically inexplicable healing of a pregnant Chicago woman with life-threatening complications due to her pregnancy.

During the beatification ceremony in 2010, Pope Benedict said that Newman tells us that “our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a ‘definite service’, committed uniquely to every single person. The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing subjects of the day. His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilised society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world.” Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said John Henry Newman is known “for many great qualities, but we remember him particularly for the kindness and compassion of his ministry to the people of Birmingham. At his death they turned out in their thousands to salute a much loved priest on his funeral procession through the streets of Birmingham.”

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