One of the focal points of Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK this autumn, the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, will take place at Cofton Park in Birmingham rather than at Coventry Airport – a place Pope John Paul II visited nearly 30 years ago.
Mgr Andrew Summersgill, Papal Visit Co-ordinator, said:
“Cofton was chosen because it is immediately adjacent to Rednal, which is the house were Cardinal Newman would go and spend some time, both to work and to have some peace and quiet. It is, of course, the site of his burial, and a place where he would have walked and visited while he was at Rednal.”
The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Bernard Longley, believes the choice of venue is fitting:
“The finest recognition Cardinal Newman received was from the ordinary people of Birmingham whose lives were changed because of their contact with him, and more than 15,000 people spontaneously lined his funeral route from the Oratory to Rednal as a final tribute to this holy, caring parish priest.
“The decision to locate the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park emphasises Cardinal Newman’s long association with his adopted city.”
The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory also expressed their joy at the news:
“This location is of tremendous significance. Cardinal Newman was buried in the cemetery at Rednal. But this was also the place where Newman and his community came for rest and recreation in the Lickey Hills.
“Rednal has continued to serve that purpose to this day, welcoming parishioners and children from the Oratory schools as well as pilgrims to Newman’s grave.”
Pope Benedict XVI will beatify the much-loved theologian on Sunday 19 September before concluding his Apostolic Journey by meeting with the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales in Oscott College before returning to Rome from Birmingham Airport.