Celebration of Cardinal Newman's feast day will break from tradition

12112009     Newman Ven. Cardinal John Henry Newman

Differing from the traditional practice, the feast day of Cardinal John Henry Newman will not be celebrated on the day of his death. Instead, in his memory the Church will celebrate his feast on the day he converted to Catholicism.

With Cardinal Newman's beatification just nine days away, the missal has been published by the Holy See on its website and in print by Magnificat. Included in the missal's nearly 500 pages of information on the papal visit and liturgical details is the Rite of Beatification for the famous cardinal on Sunday, Sept. 19.

During the Eucharist celebration at Birmingham's Cofton Park, the Holy Father will pronounce what is called the "Formula of Beatification," in which he declares that Cardinal Newman should "henceforth be invoked as Blessed."

Following these words, Benedict XVI will also proclaim that from here forward Cardinal Newman's feast is to be celebrated on October 9.

In general the feast days of blesseds and saints are marked on their "dies natalis," or the day they died. In his case, despite the fact that he died on Aug. 11, 1890, the Church has decided to select the day he converted to Catholicism, Oct. 9, 1845, as the day to celebrate his feast.

Saying he knew little about the decision during a press conference on Friday, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi joked that the Church already celebrates too many great saints in August so placing the date in October seemed like a good idea to him.

Incidentally, the Church already celebrates Sts. Denis and John Leonardi on the same date, while Aug. 11 is the Feast of St. Clare of Assisi.

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