giovedì, agosto 21, 2008

Cardinal Newman's sarcophagus to be placed in Birmingham Oratory

The body of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, is to be exhumed and placed in a sarcophagus that will stand between the marble columns opposite the Holy Souls Altar in the Oratory Church, Edgbaston.

The announcement was made by the Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Cause for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman, at the end of Mass held in the church on Sunday July 27.

Fr Chavasse said: "The sarcophagus will be a shade of green Italian marble, and on it will be an inscription in silver lettering, 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).

"The sarcophagus will be surrounded by four silver candlesticks and surmounted by a handsome silver lamp."

Fr Chavasse explained: "A number of seats near the sarcophagus will have to be removed in order to allow ease of access. The various stages of exhumation, inspection and reburial will be spread over several days and we anticipate that this will take place in the autumn of this year, once all is ready here in the church."

The Holy Souls Altar is the second of the side altars on the left hand side of the Oratory Church looking down the nave from the main entrance at the back.

During his announcement Fr Chavasse emphasised that: "Part of the established procedure prior to a beatification requires that, if the body of the new Beatus exists, then it must be exhumed, inspected, and transferred to a place of honour befitting the person's new status.

"As a great man of the Church and devoted to the Saints himself, Cardinal Newman would have been the first to insist on obeying a request of the Holy See, and he last to insist that his own personal wishes be regarded as immutable. Hence it is that his body will not be returned to the grave at Rednal, but brought here into the Oratory Church and placed in a specially constructed sarcophagus."

Fr Chavasse stressed: "It should be noted that, at the specific request of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the exhumation will be an entirely private event but that the re-interment in our church will be a public ceremony."

Fr Chavasse continued: "On April 24 this year the Board of Doctors attached to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, voted unanimously that the cure from a crippling spinal disease of Jack Sullivan, a permanent deacon from Boston, Massachusetts, could not be explained medically.

"On Tuesday September 30 the Congregation's Board of Theologians, in its first meeting after the summer recess, will vote on the case, indicating by its decision whether or not the inexplicable cure was, beyond all reasonable doubt, the result of the intercession of Cardinal Newman."

Fr Chavasse added: "If the theologians vote in favour, the Cardinals of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints will meet to give their approval. Then the matter will be put before Pope Benedict XVI, who alone can issue the decree of beatification, which will probably occur sometime in December.

"It is likely that the actual beatification ceremony would be held in Rome during the spring or early summer of 2009. Once Pope Benedict XVI has signed the Decree, our Cardinal will immediately be known as Blessed John Henry Newman.

The Postulator concluded: "Please pray for the successful outcome of the final stages of the Cause in Rome - all else depends on that. That accomplished, pray too for the smooth completion of the exhumation process.

"The construction and installation of the sarcophagus will be expensive, probably in the region of £50,000, as the marble has to be bought in Italy.

Needless to say, if you feel able to contribute any sum whatever, either for this work, or any other expense surrounding the Newman Cause, your gifts would be most gratefully received." (The Very Revd Paul Chavasse, Postulator, the Newman Cause, The Oratory, Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B16 8UE).