VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday declared five people saints, including Cardinal John Henry Newman, a leading 19th century Anglican who converted to Catholicism and became one of the most influential Christian figures of modern times.
Pope Francis leads a Mass for the canonisation of 19th-century British cardinal John Henry Newman, a Swiss laywoman, an Indian nun, an Italian nun and a nun known as the “Mother Teresa of Brazil”, at the Vatican, October 13, 2019. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
Underscoring Newman’s luminary status in Christianity today, Prince Charles, who will become head of the Church of England when he becomes king, attended the canonisation Mass in St. Peter’s Square and said it was a cause for celebration by all Britons.
“Whatever our own beliefs, and no matter what our own tradition may be, we can only be grateful to Newman for the gifts, rooted in his Catholic faith, which he shared with wider society,” Charles said in an article in the Vatican newspaper.
Charles praised Newman, the first British saint in more than 40 years and the first Englishman born since the 1600s to be canonised, as “this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can now say, this great saint”.
Such has been the fascination with all things Newman among British Christians leading up to the canonisation that Father Ignatius Harrison, provost of the Birmingham Oratory that Newman founded in 1848, speculated that the new saint would have been a “remainer” in the Brexit debate because he believed in unity.
Newman was a man of towering intellect who wrote theology, novels, philosophy, history and poetry.
In 1833, just eight years after he was ordained an Anglican priest, Newman helped launch the Oxford Movement that aimed to return the Church of England,