Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, plans to attend the October 13 canonization of Blessed John Henry Newman, the prince’s office announced Friday.
Charles will travel to Rome for the event and, following the ceremony, attend a reception at the Collegio Urbano, part of the Pontifical Urban University, and the institution where Newman studied to become a Catholic priest.
Queen Elizabeth, 93, no longer travels abroad, so the Prince of Wales is the highest royal available to be on hand for the ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.
Expected to become king upon his mother’s death or abdication, Charles also will become head of the Church of England. The soon-to-be St. John Henry Newman is one of the highest profile converts from the Church of England to the Catholic Church. He will become the first English non-martyr saint since the Reformation.
The Tablet saw a special significance in Prince Charles’ plans to attend the canonization.
Newman “shocked Victorian England when he was received into the Catholic Church in 1845, a decision which demanded great personal sacrifice given the Church in England and Wales was only starting to emerge from the restrictions placed on it by the British crown following the reformation,” the British Catholic newspaper noted. “Given this history, the attendance of such a senior royal is all the more poignant.”
“We are delighted that HRH the Prince of Wales will lead the UK delegation for the canonization of Cardinal Newman on 13 October,” said Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. “As one who has been a lifelong champion of the spiritual in everyday life, to promote understanding between faiths, and who has sought to alleviate poverty and disadvantage through his charitable work, the Prince of Wales is particularly qualified to mark the canonization which will be such a significant and joyful moment for this country,” Cardinal Nichols said.
Earlier this year, the Church of England said it “warmly welcomes” the announcement by the Vatican that Newman would be raised to the altars.
“Newman, a former Anglican priest who became a Roman Catholic in 1845—midway through his life—and eventually a Cardinal, is regarded as one of the most influential figures from his era for both Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism,” a Church statement said, adding that a delegation representing the Anglican Communion and the Church of England will be present at the canonization.