Pope Francis has formally approved the canonizations of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman and four other blessed, and decreed that these canonizations will take place in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Oct. 13.
The Holy Father made the announcement at a July 1 ordinary public consistory of cardinals on causes of canonization at the Vatican.
The news follows an announcement in February that the Holy Father had formally approved a miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry’s intercession and that a date of the canonization would be forthcoming.
The others to be canonized are Indian Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Italian Blessed Josephine Vannini, foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus; Brazilian Blessed Irmã Dulce Pontes of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God; and Swiss Blessed Marguerite Bays, virgin and Third Order Franciscan.
Oct. 13 was speculated as the most likely date for the canonization. Indian bishops will be in Rome for their ad limina visit during that time, and so the canonization of Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan would coincide well with their visit.
It also falls during the Oct. 6-27 Pan-Amazonian Synod when many bishops will be in Rome.
Another reason the date of the canonization is timely is this coming November marks the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus which provided personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. Blessed John Henry Newman was a convert from Anglicanism.
To coincide with the anniversary, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is holding a symposium on Oct. 15 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where ecclesial and ecumenical implications of the document will be discussed.
The miracle attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman’s intercession relates to a law graduate in the archdiocese of Chicago who had been inexplicably healed in 2013 after praying to the 19th century cardinal and theologian while suffering from a “life-threatening pregnancy.”
The woman, whose name has yet to be made public, was inspired to pray for the intercession of the cardinal after reportedly watching a film about him on EWTN.
The mother had “unstoppable internal bleeding which threatened the life of her child in the womb,” Oratorian Father Ignatius Harrison, postulator for Blessed John Henry’s cause, told the Register in February. “She had long been a devotee of Blessed John Henry, and in prayer she directly and explicitly invoked Newman's intercession to stop the bleeding.”
“The miraculous healing was immediate, complete and permanent,” Father Harrison said, adding that the “child was born normally.”
The founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England, Cardinal Newman was one of the most prominent converts to the Catholic Church from Anglicanism in the 19th century and was a renowned preacher and theologian.
The author of 40 books and 21,000 letters, his most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Apologia Pro Vita Sua — his spiritual autobiography up to 1864 — and Essay on the Grammar of Assent.
Born in London in 1801, Newman was named a cardinal in 1879 and took as his motto Cor ad cor loquitur — “Heart speaks to heart.” He died in Edgbaston, England, in 1890.
Benedict XVI beatified Newman in England on Sept. 19, 2010, after the Vatican approved the miraculous healing of Deacon Jack Sullivan, a native of Braintree, Massachusetts, who recovered from a crippling spinal condition after praying to Newman for his intercession — and was also inspired to pray to him after watching an EWTN program.
Father Harrison predicted the canonization would be “welcomed by Catholics and Anglicans alike, and many others.”
“Newman was a central figure within the Oxford Movement in the Church of England, and this helped him to make his unique theological and spiritual contribution to Catholicism after his conversion in 1845,” Father Harrison said.
“Newman’s long spiritual pilgrimage ‘out of shadows and images into the truth’ encourages all Christians to persevere in their quest for God above all else. His conversion to Catholicism is a clear example of how God uses all the circumstances of our lives to draw us to himself, in his own good time, and in so many different ways.”