The Prince of Wales will travel to Rome to attend the ceremony where John Henry Newman is to be declared a saint.
Clarence House confirmed today that Prince Charles is going to be present in St Peter’s Square on 13 October 2019 when Pope Francis canonises Cardinal Newman, making him the first English non-martyr saint since the reformation.
As the Queen no longer travels abroad, the Prince of Wales is the highest-ranking royal who could have attended the occasion.
Following the canonisation ceremony, the prince will attend a reception at the Collegio Urbano, part of the Pontifical Urban University, and the institution where Newman studied to become a Catholic priest. When Newman was training the college was located in what is now the offices of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, known as Propaganda Fide.
The canonisation of Cardinal Newman, who lived from 1801 to 1890, is remarkable given his journey from Anglican priest to cardinal of the Roman Church, while his hymns, poetry and theology have made a global contribution to the canon of Christian literature and spirituality.
He shocked Victorian England when he was received into the Catholic Church in 1845, a decision which demanded great personal sacrifice given the Church in England and Wales was only starting to emerge from the restrictions placed on it by the British crown following the reformation. Given this history, the attendance of such a senior royal is all the more poignant.
“As one who has been a lifelong champion of the spiritual in everyday life, to promote understanding between faiths, and who has sought to alleviate poverty and disadvantage through his charitable work, the Prince of Wales is particularly qualified to mark the canonisation which will be such a significant and joyful moment for this country,” Clarence House said.
After entering the Catholic Church, the English cardinal founded the Birmingham Oratory in England and was known for his work with poor communities. When he died at the age of 89, more than 15,000 people lined the streets of Birmingham for his funeral.
“We are delighted that HRH the Prince of Wales will lead the UK delegation for the canonisation of Cardinal Newman on 13 October,” the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols said. “Cardinal Newman’s exploration of faith, depth of personal courage, intellectual clarity and cultural sensitivity make him a deeply admired follower of Christ. His ministry, especially among the poor, is a permanent sign of the Church’s pastoral compassion and a challenge to us all today.”
While the Prince of Wales has confirmed his attendance, the British Government has yet to announce who will be representing them at the canonisation.
Newman is the first English person who has lived since the 17th century to be recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church. The last canonisation from the UK was John Ogilvie, the Scottish martyr canonised by Paul VI in 1976 who also declared the forty martyrs of England and Wales saints in 1970.
The cause for his sainthood was opened in 1958 and he was declared Venerable by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1991 after his life of "heroic virtue" was recognised. Pope Benedict XVI declared him Blessed in Cofton Park near Birmingham in September 2010, as part of his historic visit to Britain.
The canonisation was made possible by a second miracle attributed to the intercession of John Henry Newman, consisting in the medically inexplicable healing of a pregnant woman with life-threatening complications due to her pregnancy. The cure took place in Chicago, USA, in May 2013. After an initial investigation carried out by the archdiocese of Chicago, it was submitted to the Holy See in 2018, and approved by Pope Francis on 13 February 2019.
Information about Cardinal Newman including details of his life, of the miracle and the process of canonisation, links to his writings as well as photos and videos available to media, can be found at www.newmancanonisation.com.