No official Irish presence at Cardinal Newman canonisation

Neither Government nor UCD expected to have official representation in Rome

Neither the Government nor University College Dublin are expected to be officially represented at the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Rome next Sunday, according to indications last night.

Cardinal Newman was UCD's first rector and president when it was founded as the Catholic University of Ireland.

However, Prince Charles will represent Queen Elizabeth at the ceremony, along with 13 cross-party MPs and peers from Westminster as well as UK ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy and the prime minister's special envoy for freedom of religion or belief Rehman Chishti MP.

Birmingham, where Newman founded the first English Oratory and died in 1890 aged 89, will be represented by its lord mayor, Mohammed Azim, while the Archbishop of Canterbury will be represented by Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster.


The University of Oxford will be represented by Neil Mendoza, Provost of Oriel College, where Newman was a fellow and Dame Hilary Boulding, president of Oxford's Trinity College, where he was an undergraduate.

Newman, a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, came to Ireland in 1851 at the invitation of then Catholic archbishop of Dublin Paul Cullen to be the rector of a new Catholic University, now UCD.

He stayed there until 1858, and is described on the UCD website as “our founding rector”.

UCD presence

Contacted about its likely official representation at next Sunday’s canonisation, a UCD spokeswoman said there would be “a number of UCD folk in Rome”, but did not elaborate.

She added that: “Although John Henry is the founding rector of our antecedent, the Catholic University, we have been a secular university since 1908 and consequently are not invited in a formal capacity.”

A spokesman for the Government was not aware whether it would be officially represented at the canonisation, while a query last week to the Department of Education had not yet received a response.

However, Ireland's Ambassador to the Holy See, Derek Hannon, will co-host a lecture with the Irish College in Rome on Friday at the college to mark the canonisation. It will be delivered by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.

The Irish Catholic Church will be represented at the canonisation ceremony in St Peter's Square on Sunday by Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy, who will lead 30 pilgrims there; Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise Francis Duffy; Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe; and retired bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce.

The University Church at St Stephen's Green, Dublin, also founded by Newman, will be represented by Fr William Dailey, director of the Notre Dame Centre for Faith and Reason, accompanied by about 50 pilgrims.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times