Pope Francis has canonized famous 19th century English theologian and poet John Henry Newman. Newman, a leading intellectual of his time, becomes the first English Catholic saint to have lived later than the Reformation.
Pope Francis on Sunday declared Cardinal John Henry Newman a saint in a canonization Mass for John Henry Newman and four women that was attended by Britain's Prince Charles.
Newman, an English theologian and poet who lived from 1801 to 1890, left the Church of England in 1845 to become a Catholic, alienating many in his circle but helping create a greater acceptance of Catholicism in Protestant Britain. One year before his death, he was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII.
At the Mass in St. Peter's Square, Francis quoted from one of Newman's best-known hymns, "Lead, Kindly Lights," and urged the faithful to be "kindly lights" amid the gloom surrounding them. Newman wrote the hymn while ill on a journey.
Francis also drew parallels between what he called the difficult Christian "journey of faith" and the troubles experienced by Newman at his conversion.
'A cause of celebration'
Prince Charles, whose mother, as queen, is the "supreme governor" of the Anglican Church, praised Newman in an editorial in the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, saying that his canonization was "a cause of celebration not merely in the United Kingdom, and not merely for Catholics, but for all who cherish the values by which he was inspired."
Those values, Charles said, included opposition to "the forces that would debase human dignity and human destiny," adding that Newman's example was "needed more than ever" today.
Newman is known, among other things, as the founder and first rector of University College Dublin in Ireland, initially known as the Catholic University of Ireland. A noted literary figure, he wrote, among many other works, the poem "The Dream of Gerontius," which was set to music by English composer Edward Elgar in 1900. Another of his popular hymns is "Praise to the Holiest in the Height," taken from "The Dream of Gerontius."
Admired by both Anglicans and Catholics, he has also been claimed by gay activists, as Newman was buried next to the Reverend Ambrose St. John, who was his companion for more than three decades.
The last English people to have been made saints were the so-called Forty Martyrs, Roman Catholics executed during the Reformation period of the 16th and 17th centuries. They were canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
The four women canonized on Sunday were the nuns Giuseppina Vannini, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan and Dulce Lopes Pontes, and the laywoman Margherita Bays.
tj/rc (AP, dpa)