WHEN Cardinal John Henry Newman becomes a saint it will put a Littlemore church on the pilgrims’ trail.

The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory have announced that Pope Francis will canonise Blessed John Henry Newman in St Peter’s Square, Rome, on Sunday, October 13.

This will make Cardinal Newman the first English person who has lived since the 17th century officially recognised as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

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The news is being welcomed in Littlemore as Cardinal Newman built St Mary and St Nicholas Church, in Sandford Road, Littlemore, while still an Anglican in 1835.


Rev Margreet Armitstead is convinced the canonisation spells good news for the Grade I listed church and will lead to a growing number of visitors.

The stable building is now a Newman college and houses a library, hosts retreats and shows visitors the rooms where Newman worked.

About 2,000 people a year visit and many more are expected after the ceremony in October.

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Rev Armitstead said earlier: "This will be celebrated by both Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Oxford. I am delighted to be here in the church he helped to build and I love the way he had such heart for the people of this parish.

“He was famous as an academic but in Littlemore he was a parish priest."

Rev Armitstead said the church was continuing Cardinal Newman’s work of reaching out to those who are in need.


She added: “We have a £600,000 renovation scheme under way where we want to make the building more accessible for community groups.

“That involves internal alterations, including installing a kitchen and toilet. The nave will be made more flexible, with pews replaced by chairs - we want to be more welcoming to groups who can use the church in the week.”

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Rev Armitstead said last year about £300,000 had been raised towards a £600,000 total needed for the revamp.

Rev Dr Hugh White created a Newman pilgrimage around Oxfordshire a few years ago when he was vicar of Deddington, where Newman gave his first public address.

Now, with the backing of the Bishop of Oxford, Rev White is planning a nine-day pilgrimage route from Oxford to Birmingham taking in many places associated with Cardinal Newman.

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Holy Trinity Church in Over Worton, south of Banbury, is another location on the pilgrimage as it is where Newman came in 1824 to deliver his first sermon.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was ordained as a Church of England priest and soon became the leader of the Oxford Movement.

The canonisation follows Vatican endorsement of a miracle said to have happened as a result of prayers to the Cardinal – the recovery of a pregnant Chicago woman with life-threatening complications. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said: “This is a moment of great pride.

“John Henry Newman is known for many great qualities but we remember him particularly for the kindness and compassion of his ministry to the people of Birmingham.”