Getting to Know the Newly Canonized St. John Henry Newman

Today in Rome, John Henry Cardinal Newman was canonized a saint in the Catholic Church. Pope Francis celebrated the canonization Mass for Newman and four others: Giuseppina Vannini, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, Irmã Dulce Pontes and Marguerite Bays. Cardinal Newman is the most well known of the group, a convert to the faith and an influential figure in the Church.

Cardinal Newman statueNewman was born in 1801 in London and was a minister of the Church of England. He converted to the Catholic Church in 1845 and became a Catholic priest and later, a cardinal. “Even though he had a couple of moments in his Catholic life where he was in the limelight or doing public things, most of his Catholic life was a hidden life, a priestly service to Irish immigrants in a very poor part of an industrial town. … He was known to spend many hours a week in the confessional. And as I once heard Fr. George Rutler say unforgettably: this is where the great drama of human life plays out—in the confessional of parish churches,” said Dr. Chris Blum, professor of history and theology at the Augustine Institute.

“We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.” – Cardinal Newman

Newman’s sermons are powerful and influential, and he’s a famous writer. It’s interesting to know that many of his published sermons are from when he was an Anglican minister. “He was preaching these sermons in the context of a liturgy that had some similarities to a Catholic Mass, but one great dissimilarity which was a 40 or 50 minute sermon. So he prepared very careful and he wrote them out. And Newman, of course, is a famous writer of the English language—Chesterton said that reading Newman’s prose is like hearing music,” explained Blum.

His prolific writing moved many hearts in his time and continues to inspire Christians today. “In the Church of England, as is common in protestant settings, preaching typically focused on Saint Paul’s Epistles,” said Blum. “And what Newman did was to turn people back to the gospel and the figure of Christ so that they could approach him and hear his voice fresh. And I think today, that’s still a great gift to us to have these reflections.”

“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” – Cardinal Newman

Cardinal Newman is attributed with saving a mother and her unborn child, a miracle that led to his canonization. Learn more about the miracle from the mother herself.

Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us!


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