Canonisation of John Henry Newman today in Rome by Pope Francis.
What a great occasion this celebration will be at St Peter’s in Rome and how I would love to be there. Taking place during the Synod of Bishops in Rome, a great cross-section of cultures will be participating.
John Henry Newman was born on 21 February 1801 in London, the eldest of six children. His father was a banker and his mother’s family were originally French Huguenot refugees.
One of his great sorrows in life was the death of his sister, Mary, at the age of 19 years of a sudden illness. Years later, he confided to his sister Harriet, ‘I don’t think that she ever knew how much I loved her.”
It is sad if we leave it too long to tell another of our love for them. In the Gospel, the Samaritan immediate goes back to Jesus to say, ‘Thanks’. Don’t leave it too long to tell a person that you love them and then live the rest of your life to regret it – do it today.
On 9th October 1845, an Italian Passionist priest, Dominic Barberi, now Blessed, received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church from the Anglican Community.
Not everyone understood the personal cost of the journey John Henry Newman and two others received into the Catholic Church with him had made. We can, I’m sure, appreciate that his friends and family suffered a sense of loss at the change he made in his life. More followed two years later when he was ordained a Catholic priest. He founded the Birmingham Oratory in 1848.
Showing favour to the university where I studied – U.C.D - in 1851 Newman was appointed first Rector of University College Dublin. His Dublin lectures and articles published as, “The Idea of a University” give a relevant message on education. A visit to Newman’s Church, St Stephen’s Green, will not disappoint.
His poem on the afterlife, ‘The Dream of Gerontius’, published in 1865, later inspired Elgar’s masterpiece. But, let me finish with one the great poems of Newman – ‘The Pillar and the Cloud’, better known to us, ‘Lead Kindly Light’. On a visit to Sicily, he took sick and wanted to get back to England as soon as possible. He was stranded by a storm for one week on a boat from Palermo to Marseilles. That was when the great, ‘Lead Kindly Light’ was born.
Any regrets today? Blessed Dominic, C.P. not also being canonized today.