Cardinal John Henry Newman’s ‘profound’ impact hailed as he becomes saint

Saint John Henry Newman was hailed as a priest, a poet and a thinker who had a “profound” impact on the world as he was canonised by Pope Francis.

In front of tens of thousands of pilgrims at the Vatican’s St Peter’s Square, the Pontiff elevated the English theologian to sainthood.

The Prince of Wales, who represented the UK at the ceremony, praised the legacy of the cardinal, saying in a speech after the ceremony: “So today is a cause for celebration for us all – Anglicans, Catholics and simple admirers of Newman.

“He was a priest, a poet and a thinker ahead of his time.

“Above all, perhaps he was a fearless defender of truth, whose impact on the world was as profound as it is enduring.”

London-born Cardinal Newman, who died in England in 1890 aged 89, had been hailed by former pope Benedict XVI as a model for ecumenism.

An Anglican priest, he shocked Victorian society when he renounced an illustrious academic career at Oxford University to convert to Catholicism in 1845, convinced that the truth he sought could no longer be found in the Church of England.

The saint went on to found the Oratory at Birmingham in 1848 and through his writings spoke to many about the issues of faith, education and conscience.

One of his greatest legacies was helping to change attitudes towards the Catholic Church, raising its standing in British society.

Vatican Saints
Vatican Saints

Melissa Villalobos who was the subject of the second miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman – which confirmed his status as a saint – was in the congregation and described her journey to this point as destiny.

She recovered from a torn placenta in 2013, which threatened her unborn child’s life and her own, after praying to the revered priest for help.

The mother-of-seven said as she held the hand of her five-year-old daughter saved by divine intervention: “It’s been such a joyous day for me to see Newman become a saint.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this since the minute I was created, and here it is, even though I know some people have lived an entire life hoping for his canonisation and it never came.

“It’s a real blessing that I can see it, and be a part of it.”

Speaking about what attracted her to the eminent theologian, she added: “I think his tenderness and that came across when I read his letters.

“I could tell that he was not just this colossal genius, this intellectual powerhouse, but he also had a tremendous loving heart.”