As part of its celebrations of the beatification of its founder, Cardinal John Henry Newman , the Birmingham Oratory opened its shrine dedicated to Newman.
first pilgrim to pray at the shrine was the Holy Father, who visited the Oratory following the beatification Mass. Formerly St Phillip's Chapel, it was refurbished before being rededicated to Newman. The refurbishment was carried out by International Fine Art Conservation Studios and consisted of laying a new floor and some redecoration whilst preserving older decoration in some areas. The new elements echo the Oratory's baroque style and include stencilled designs.
The Shrine contains a number of relics taken from Newman's grave. Over the altar hangs a copy of Walter Ouless's portrait of Newman, the original of which is in the possession of the Oratory.
A considerable amount of work has clearly gone into the detail of the shrine. A particularly nice touch is design of the lamps to resemble a Cardinal's galero.
Since its opening the shrine has played host to many other pilgrims following in the Holy Father’s footsteps. Some have emulated him by admiring another of the Oratory’s increasingly famous residents, Pushkin. Pushkin is a delightful black Persian cat that has risen to fame since he was featured across the media as the recipient of the Pope’s attention and now even gets his own fan mail.
For those able to visit, the shrine is open whenever the Church is, usually before and after Mass, Saturday and Sunday. A pilgrims’ Mass is held in the shrine at 11am on Saturday mornings.
The Birmingham Oratory’s shrine is one of many erected or commissioned over recent months in memory of Newman; these include the London (Brompton) Oratory and Oxford Oratory as well as places as far afield as New York.
Also at the Oratory is a small exhibition of Newman’s personal items (generally only open at weekends). It features information about Newman’s life largely taken from some very effective poster versions of sections from Father Beaumont’s official beatification biography, a very interesting book. Hopefully soon the displays will be augmented with the items from the Newman Exhibition at the Birmingham Museum, as this featured some truly stunning pieces, photographs of which can be seen here.
This is the conclusion to my series of reports about Cardinal John Henry Newman, his beatification and the events that took place as part of its celebration; links to the earlier posts are listed below. As there are already reports of a second miracle being investigated it appears we may reasonably be hopeful that the sequel to this series may be appearing in the not too distant future!
Life of John Henry Newman
Newman and Birmingham Lecture
Cardinal Newman Exhibition
JH Newman and his Biographers, Official Beatification Conference
Performance of The Dream of Gerontius
Beatification of Cardinal Newman
Newman the Authorised Biography