The body of Cardinal Newman is to be moved to a place of honor in the Oratory Church of Edgbaston.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) spent half of his life as an Anglican, rising to a level of prominence in the communion of his time. But in 1845, he was received into the Catholic Church and later ordained a Catholic priest. In 1879 he was elevated to the rank of cardinal.

The exhumation and moving of his remains is a lead-up to an expected beatification of the cardinal, thought to be possible in the spring or summer of 2009.

The announcement was made earlier this summer by the provost of the Birmingham Oratory and postulator of the cause for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, Father Paul Chavasse.

“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,” Father Chavasse announced after a Mass in the oratory.

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 honor befitting the person’s new status.

Grave at Rednal

“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 the 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.”

Cardinal Newman stipulated in his will the current site of his grave.

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

A miracle

The process of beatification for Cardinal Newman is progressing, according to the postulator, after officials with the Vatican’s saint congregation voted that the cure of Deacon Jack Sullivan, of Boston, Massachusetts, could not be medically explained.

The congregation’s Board of Theologians will vote in September whether or not the cure can reasonably be attributed to the intercession of Cardinal Newman.

“If the theologians vote in favor, the cardinals of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes will meet to give their approval,” Father Chavasse explained. “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.”

BIRMINGHAM, England, AUG. 26, 2008 (