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John Henry Newman: A Very English Saint?

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 22 August 2010

LAst year Pope Benedict XVI came on a state visit to Britain and one of the highlights of the trip was the beatification in Birmingham of Cardinal John Henry Newman, whose life spanned most of the 19th century. It's the penultimate step on the route to sainthood, making Cardinal Newman the first non-martyred British saint since before the Reformation. Edward Stourton explores the life and legacy of Newman who was once described as the "most dangerous man in England" because his religious faith took him from Protestantism to the Church of Rome and attracted suspicion on all sides. The programme includes access to Newman's rooms at the Birmingham Oratory which have remained as they were when he died there in 1890 and to the grave where he was buried with his male companion of 32 years. The programme includes interviews with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales; Newman biographers Fr. Ian Ker and John Cornwell, the Anglican bishop and Newman scholar Geoffrey Rowell, Catholic columnist Dr. Melanie McDonagh and the composer James MacMillan. It also includes music associated with Newman including Edward Elgar's setting of Newman's great poem The Dream of Gerontius plus music from the new English setting of the Mass composed by James MacMillan which was sung at the beatification ceremony in Birmingham. The actor Michael Maloney reads from Newman's letters, autobiography and diaries.


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