The Canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman was made a saint by Pope Francis on 13th October. Cardinal Newman is the first English person who has lived since the 17th century officially to be recognised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Sr Brigid, fcJ, who attended the Mass of Canonisation in Rome on 13 October with a group of pilgrims from Liverpool, writes (edited):

On Sat 12th October I left home at 4.15 am in a taxi which called for me, having collected Bishop Tom Williams first.  Our flight left Manchester Airport at 7.15 with about eighty pilgrims and having arrived on time we were taken by coach to central Rome. I was placed immediately opposite the entrance to the Vatican Museum.

The first engagement was Mass in St Anne’s, Vatican City. The church is dedicated to Our Lady and people loved the fact that it was chosen by Pope Francis for his first Sunday Mass when elected Pope.

Later, there was a vigil of prayer in St Mary Major followed by a concert of music by pupils of the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School.

Sunday 13th October was the great day of the Canonisation of John Henry Newman. Breakfast was at 6.15 and four of us took a taxi to the entrance of St Peter’s to be ready for the opening at 7.00am. By 7.30am we were given an excellent and comfortable place in the third row, left of centre although the altar for Mass still seemed a long way off. Those in wheelchairs were taken into the area for the concelebrants so that they were nearer and able to see more.

The atmosphere at the Canonisation Mass was great and everyone was very excited.


Mass started at 10.00am. Each person had a celebration book with the entire Mass in at least six languages. There was a large screen, ideally placed from my point of view, and the sound was excellent too!

Pope Francis greets the people alongside the Most reverend Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool.

After Mass, the Holy Father took the usual ride among the people, although I saw him only in the distance, to meet and greet the people… the atmosphere was electric!

We spent the afternoon on a tour of the Vatican.

On Monday 14 October, we went to the pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving for Saint John Henry Newman at St John Lateran Basilica. I had travelled with some of the clergy and by mistake I went in the wrong door. I was offered a seat on the 4th row! Many of the Anglican Bishops were present too, and they had seats very close to the high altar (as they had at the canonisation).

Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, was chief celebrant. The most moving part of that Mass was the the presence of deacon Jack Sullivan from USA whose cure led to the beatification… He read the Gospel. In the front row was Melissa Villalobos and her family, including the child, who was born safely after the cure. The atmosphere was amazing. Everyone wanted to talk to the two people who had been cured.

You can watch the complete Mass of the Canonisation here.

The canonisation was celebrated in other FCJ communities in England. This is a photo of the chapel of Gumley House, the FCJ Generalate, on the day of the St John Henry Newman’s canonisation.

The chapel at Gumley House Convent on the day of St John Henry Newman’s Canonisation.