The Canonisation of Cardinal Newman
On Sunday 13th October this year, Pope Francis will raise to the altars Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-90). That is he will be made a saint. He will be the first Englishman who has lived since the seventeenth century to be canonised and is one of the most significant figures of the nineteenth century with his writings having had much influence. Pope Benedict XVI, who is a great admirer of Newman, beatified him during his visit to England in 2010.
Newman was ordained as a priest in the Church of England and became the leader of the Oxford Movement (which developed into High Anglicanism), but converted to Catholicism in 1845 for which he sacrificed a great deal. He founded the Birmingham Oratory (where Fr David was ordained last year) and in 1879 was made a Cardinal. When he died at the age of 89, more than 15,000 people lined the streets of Birmingham for his funeral.
Before his conversion Newman was very anti-Catholic. He had been brought up to believe that the Church of Rome was the Antichrist. But the more he studied, his objections broke down and he came to see it as the True Church founded on the Apostles. He came to realise that Roman Catholicism didn’t just claim to offer the truth; it was the Truth.
Prior to his conversion, Newman had always avoided Catholics and Catholic services, but after his conversion, to his surprise, what struck him most was the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in Catholic churches. He wrote, “It is really most wonderful to see this Divine Presence looking out almost into the open streets from the various churches … I never knew what worship was, as an objective fact, till I entered the Catholic Church.”
Newman had many links with the Rosminians although he never managed to meet Blessed Rosmini himself. One of Newman’s disciples, William Lockhart, became a Catholic before him and joined the Rosminian Fathers. And when Fr Luigi Gentili, the first Rosminian in England was Parish Priest at St Mary’s, Loughborough, Newman visited him here in 1845 just after becoming a Catholic. So very shortly we will have a canonised saint who came to our parish!
In preparation for Cardinal Newman’s canonisation, which will be a great day for the Universal Church, the Bishops would like us to make a novena from Friday 4th October till Saturday 12th October. Booklets with the text will be printed for you to take and the link is already on the parish website. Let us pray that Newman’s legacy will become more widely known and lead many to the Truth which is Christ.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC