Saturday, October 04, 2008

No Remains

Keeping with yesterday's Newman thread, the exhumation of the cardinal-convert's tomb took place on Thursday... its result:
"Brass, wooden and cloth artefacts from Cardinal Newman's coffin were found. However there were no remains of the body of John Henry Newman. An expectation that Cardinal Newman had been buried in a lead lined coffin proved to be unfounded.

"In the view of the medical and health professionals in attendance, burial in a wooden coffin in a very damp site makes this kind of total decomposition of the body unsurprising.

"The absence of physical remains in the grave does not affect the progress of Cardinal Newman's Cause in Rome.

"The Birmingham Oratory has always been in possession of some actual physical remains of Cardinal Newman.

"These consist of some locks of hair, some of which were sent to Deacon Jack Sullivan prior to his inexplicable cure. These, together with items found in his grave, will be housed in a casket for a Vigil of Reception on Friday 31 October and Saturday 1 November, to be followed by the High Mass of All Saints on Sunday 2 November at 11.00 am, when the casket will be placed in the Oratory Church, Edgbaston."

The Very Reverend Paul Chavasse, Provost of the Birmingham Oratory and Postulator of the Newman Cause said: "The lack of substantial physical remains does nothing to diminish our deep reverence for Cardinal Newman. Yesterday's outcome seems to have a Providential significance."

Father Chavasse added: "In the 'Dream of Gerontius', Cardinal Newman reflected on the experience of death. He wrote:

'I went to sleep; and now I am refreshed. A strange refreshment: for I feel in me An inexpressive lightness, and a sense Of freedom, as I were at length myself, And ne'er had been before'."