The post office of the Isle of Man, a small independently-governed island near the U.K., issued a set of commemorative stamps this month honoring Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, along with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope will officially beatify the English cardinal at the end of his visit to England and Scotland from September 16 to 19.
The stamps were part of a miniature sheet issued on August 11, the 120th anniversary of Cardinal Newman's death. Since then, the Isle of Man's department for stamps and coins has been working with the Vatican Post Office to produce additional commemorative materials for the September 19 beatification.
Since Newman's beatification was originally scheduled to take place at Coventry Airport, the stamps give the original location for the announced ceremony rather than the new site at Cofton Park in Birmingham. Stamp collectors, however, often increase the level of an artifacts' value to apparent discrepancies of this kind.
Newman is depicted in two photographs, one taken in his residence at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in 1883, when the cardinal was 82. The other was taken around 1866, just over two decades after his conversion from Anglicanism and reception into the Catholic Church. The photograph of Pope Benedict XVI was taken during a General Audience in St. Peter's Square on June 10, 2009.
Among the materials to be produced jointly by the Isle of Man Post Office and the Vatican, will be a special welcome message to the Pope from Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.
Announcing the stamps in a press conference earlier this summer, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that they “highlight the importance” of the “first time a Pope has been welcomed to the United Kingdom on a State Visit.” A prior visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982, which was the first ever visit by a Pope to the U.K., was a pastoral visit and not undertaken in his capacity as the head of the Vatican City State.
Describing Cardinal Newman as an “example of holiness “ as well as a “figure of international significance,” Archbishop Longley hoped the stamps would “introduce Cardinal Newman and his witness to goodness and truth, to many people throughout the world who may not yet know him."