As we reported in The Sunday Times and on a previous blog, attempts to exhume Cardinal John Henry Newman have failed because there is no body there to exhume. Libby Purves is among those who welcomed the end they hoped this would bring to a 'ghoulish side-show'. All that remains of this great churchman are a few tassels from his cardinal's hat. This picture shows the sarcophagus that has been built in Italy and can no longer be used to house a non-existent body at the Birmingham Oratory, as had been intended. It has been built, it is in Italy and the Cause will announce next week what is to become of it.
Peter Jennings is the press officer for the cause and you can keep up to date with developments in the exclusive column he does for The Times faith page. He dug up the original report of the funeral from The Birmingham Post, the paper where I was indentured more than 25 years ago, which goes a little way towards explaining why the body had so completely decomposed:
The Post's report from Wednesday August 20 1890, ended: "When the rites had been achieved, the crowd without the gates was suffered to enter by batches and see the grave; and then the coffin was covered with mould of a softer texture than the marly stratum in which the grave is cut. "This was done in studious and affectionate fulfilment of a desire of Dr Newman's which some may deem fanciful, but which sprang from his reverence for the letter of the Divine Word; which, as he conceived, enjoins us to facilitate rather than impede the operation of the law 'Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return'."
At The Times, one of the senior editors Rose Wild has also been working on this in her role as online archivist. She has dug up, as it were, the original Times obituary on Cardinal Newman, and the report on his funeral which we carried. She has written about this on her new archive blog.
Read the rest here.
At least we know that his final wishes will not be violated, in particular since it is all a part of the move by B16 to help undermine the Anglicans. Newman was never treated well by Rome, the Cardinal's hat was a consolation prize. The callus calculation to bring his cause out of the ecclesial backwater it had been regulated to at this juncture only underlines the fact that Newman still only serves as a way to prick the souls of Anglicans than be a model of any real devotion. It now looks like God has denied the Papacy to include the desecration of Blessed Newman's grave to the many indignities heaped on him, or the list detestable mendacity's of Rome.