Thursday, August 19, 2010

Full Programme of Events to Celebrate Blessed John Henry Newman

The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory are planning a series of events surrounding the beatification of their founder, John Henry Cardinal Newman, by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, September 19th.

Day Conference on Blessed John Henry Newman

On Saturday, September 18th there will be a day conference in the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, “Newman by his Biographers”. The featured speakers are Fr Ian Ker and Dr. Sheridan Gilley, both authors of well-known biographies of John Henry Newman and excellent speakers in their own right.

Fr. Ian Ker will look at Newman’s significance for Pope Benedict XVI. Newman’s ideas about the organic development in relation to doctrine are especially relevant for the Holy Father’s “hermeneutic of continuity”.

Dr. Sheridan Gilley will speak on Newman and the Catholic Revival, especially in the Midlands.

Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, a priest of the London Oratory and on the staff of the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome, will give a paper on Newman and the Fathers.

The final talk will be give by Fr. Keith Beaumont, of the Oratoire de France. This will be the formal launch of the beautiful and lavishly illustrated official biography for the beatification.

The conference is being sponsored by the Catholic Truth Society, the UK promoters of the beatification biography. Participants will each receive a free copy of the biography and a selection of the many booklets produced by the CTS to coincide with this momentous event in the life of the Church in England. There will also be a book stall at the conference selling a wide range of Newman’s own writings, as well as studies and popular works, prayers cards, and medals released to mark the occasion.

Newman Exhibition

The Oratory is collaborating with Birmingham City Council on a Newman Exhibition in the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery. This will open to the public on Saturday, September 11th and will run until January 2012. Those participating in the conference on 18th September will have an opportunity to visit the exhibition which will be housed in the next door museum.

The day will conclude with a performance of the Dream of Gerontius in Birmingham Town Hall at 5.30pm. The Ex Cathedra Choir will be accompanied by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Birmingham Town Hall was the venue where the Dream was first performed. Edward Elgar, who set Newman’s poem to music, was a great admirer of the Cardinal. He gave the original score of his oratorio to the library of the Birmingham Oratory where it remains to this day. It is hoped to find a way of having a facsimile of the score on display at the concert.

Solemn Vespers

On the day of the beatification, Sunday 19th September, at 7.30pm, the Fathers of the English Oratories will gather in the Birmingham Oratory to sing Solemn Second Vespers of Blessed John Henry Newman in the Extraordinary Form. This will be attended by all the visiting cardinals and bishops and will be followed by Benediction and an opportunity to venerate and be blessed with the relics of Blessed John Henry Newman.

The English Oratorians will have three separate celebrations of their founders on three successive days, in Birmingham, Oxford and London. For full details of these and a number of other events timed to coincide with this momentous occasion, please see the summary below.

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Summary of Oratory Sponsored Events Surrounding the Beatification of Cardinal Newman

Friday 17th September

London Concert: Sacred Masterpieces from Renaissance Rome

To coincide with the Papal Visit, the Victoria and Albert Museum is displaying four outstanding tapestries designed by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel alongside their full-scale designs, the Raphael Cartoons. The cartoons have been on display in the Museum since 1865, but the tapestries, brought especially from the Vatican for this exhibition, have never been shown before in the UK.  

On Friday, 17th September, the London Oratory and the Victoria and Albert Museum are collaborating to present a special evening of the art and music of renaissance Rome, by combining a private viewing of the reunited Raphael Cartoons and Tapestries in the V&A and a concert in the Oratory of some of the greatest sacred music from the Roman school of Palestrina, Victoria, Frescobaldi and Allegri, with the Choir of the Oratory under its director, Patrick Russill, and with its organist, John McGreal.

The concert will be at 7.00pm, and the private viewings will be 5.30pm-6.45pm and 8.30pm-9.45pm.  Tickets (unreserved) are £18 (concert and viewing) and £15 (concert only).  Tickets are available only through the V&A Bookings Office.
To book contact +44 (0)20 7942 2211
To book online go to

Saturday 18th September

The Official Newman Conference: Newman by his Biographers
Tickets are £80 (£45 for over 60s, unemployed and students) and will include a light lunch and provisions for tea and coffee.
Tickets are available from the Town Hall Box Office only.
To book online go to
To book by telephone 0121 780 3333 (from outside UK + 44 121 780 3333)

Saturday 11th September onwards

Newman Exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
For viewing the exhibition from Saturday 11th September onwards check the website for opening times. Admission free.

Saturday 18th September

Performance of the Dream of Gerontius
The performance will be at 5.30pm and tickets are available from the Town Hall Box Office. Further details can be found on their website:

Sunday 19th September

Solemn Vespers of Blessed John Henry Newman
7.30pm at the Birmingham Oratory

Monday 20th September

There will be a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Beatification of Cardinal Newman at the Birmingham Oratory at 6.30pm.

Tuesday 21st September

There will be a pilgrimage to Littlemore leaving from the Oxford Oratory and a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving at the Oxford Oratory in the evening. Please contact the Oxford Oratory for further details.
Telephone 01865 315800

Wednesday 22nd September

At the London Oratory there will be a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving, Lassus Missa Bel'amfitrit Altera with period instruments, and Victoria Te Deum with the blessing of the Newman Altar by the Archbishop of Westminster in the evening.

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As a final note, I would mention as well that Zenit has published the papal itinerary which was released by the Vatican Press Office yesterday.

Included in the intinerary is the fact that the Pope will be visiting the Birmingham Oratory itself. No doubt this will mean that the Holy Father will visit Newman's rooms, preserved there. Certainly something to look forward to.

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