Prayers at graveside of Cardinal Newman

 Special prayers for the beatification and canonisation of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman were said at his graveside in the small secluded cemetery at the Oratory House, Rednal, on the outskirts of Birmingham, on Sunday afternoon, writes Peter Jennings. A special Mass was celebrated at the Birmingham Oratory the following evening, Monday 11 August, the anniversary of Cardinal Newman's death in the Oratory House at Edgbaston on Monday August 11, 1890, at the age of 89. The preacher at the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit was Father Jerome Bertram, a member of the Oxford Oratory, who spoke on the topic: Newman, the pastoral parish priest. Cardinal Newman was buried in his priestly vestments, in a lead-lined coffin, at the Oratory retreat at Rednal, following his funeral Mass on Tuesday, 19 August 1890. One hundred and eighteen years later Father Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause, led a moving 20-minute service of readings, hymns and prayers at Cardinal Newman's graveside. Brother Lewis Berry, a member of the community, read from Cardinal Newman's instruction on praying for him after his death, found in a poem, The Golden Prison of 1853. The sun broke through the clouds briefly as Brother Lewis read the first verse: "Weep not for me when I am gone, Nor spend thy faithful breath, In grieving o'er the spot or hour, Of all enshrouding death." Before Cardinal Newman's great hymn Praise to the Holiest in the height was sung, the Postulator addressed the pilgrims: "I expect that this will be the last time that we gather here to pray for Cardinal Newman's beatification. Hopefully the beatification ceremony itself will have taken place by this time next year and we will be praying for a second miracle of physical healing so that the Church may declare Blessed John Henry Newman a Saint." Sometime later this year the body of Cardinal Newman will be exhumed from his grave here at Rednal and placed in a sarcophagus, made of green Italian marble, that will stand between the marble columns opposite the Holy Souls Altar in the Oratory Church, Edgbaston. The sarcophagus will be inscribed in silver lettering on the side with a reproduction of Cardinal Newman's Coat of Arms, and his motto: 'Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem' (From shadows and images into the Truth). Drawings have been prepared by Brownhill Hayward Brown, chartered architects in Lichfield, inspired by the sarcophagus of Cardinal Reginald Pole 1500-1558), the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury before the Reformation in England, who is buried in Canterbury Cathedral close to the chair of St Augustine. An exhumation licence for Cardinal Newman's remains has now been granted by the Ministry of Justice in London and is dated August 6 2008. Fr Chavasse said: "We know that the Ministry of Justice has been minded to make a special exception to allow us to carry out the written specific instructions of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome and exhume the body of Cardinal Newman. "As Postulator of the Newman Cause, I should like to express our sincere thanks to Sir Suma Chakrabarti, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and his officials. Our particular gratitude goes to Jane Walker of the Permanent Secretary's Office, and Robert Clifford, Head of Burials Team at the Coroners Unit." Fr Chavasse added: "The exhumation is part of the step by step process of the Cause for the beatification of our founder, and it will be carried out in private sometime later this year."

Share this story