All-Party Parliamentary Group on The Holy See Press Release: 03/10/19

MPs & Peers head to Rome for Newman canonisation

The Vatican is preparing to receive a delegation of thirteen MPs and peers from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See for events surrounding the canonisation of English cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday 13 October 2019.

“One of England’s great intellects being declared a saint is beyond a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Sir Edward Leigh MP, who will lead the parliamentary delegation, said.

“We’re deeply honoured that Her Majesty the Queen is sending the Prince of Wales to represent her and the United Kingdom as a whole,” Sir Edward continued. “It’s a good sign of the esteem in which Cardinal Newman is held nearly a hundred and thirty years after his death.”

MPs and Peers will also take advantage of the visit to meet beforehand with Vatican officials to discuss their work.

“The UK and the Holy See have hugely overlapping interests,” Sir Edward said, “and our all-party group seeks to keep parliamentarians informed of the global activities of the Catholic church in areas such as humanitarian relief, refugees and migrants, and protection of children and vulnerable adults.”

Ambassador Axworthy will host a dinner for Cardinal Vincent Nichols and other guests on Friday 11 October and the Cardinal and Ambassador will jointly host an event entitled ‘Cardinal Newman: A Celebration’ in the Vatican the following day.

The English Oratories have jointly organised an Evening Prayer Vigil and Choral Concert on the Saturday evening in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and a Musical Oratory will be held in the Chiesa Nuova, Rome’s Oratory church, on the evening of the canonisation day.

In addition to the parliamentary group, the official United Kingdom government delegation will be headed up by the Prince of Wales alongside HM Ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy and the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief Rehman Chishti MP.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is sending the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, Bishop of Portsmouth, as his representative, while Newman’s old university of Oxford will be represented by Neil Mendoza, the Provost of Oriel College where Newman was a Fellow, and Dame Hilary Boulding, the President of Trinity College where Newman studied as an undergraduate. 

Birmingham, where the soon-to-be saint founded the first English Oratory, will be represented by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Mohammed Azim.