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Taoiseach Welcomes Canonisation of St John Henry Newman

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has welcomed the canonisation in Rome today (Sunday 13 October 2019) of Cardinal John Henry Newman.  Newman was an inspirational founding Rector of the Catholic University - now UCD - an institution which has educated generations of students, advanced learning, and made a vast contribution to the development of Dublin and Ireland. 

The Taoiseach said:

His canonisation by Pope Francis is a recognition of his great intellectual and theological influence, his pastoral dedication - particularly to the poor, and his work to foster understanding between faiths.

A Londoner by birth, Newman spent four years in Dublin as Rector of the University before returning to England.  His canonisation is a reminder of the close relationship between Britain and Ireland at which the Government is represented by the Minister for Education & Skills, Joe McHugh, and the United Kingdom by the Prince of Wales.

The Taoiseach added:

The canonisation of John Henry Newman is a significant day for Catholics around the world, and it is also a special day for Irish people. He left a remarkable legacy in Ireland, one that merits him being considered an Irish saint as well as a British one.  One of the finest prose writers of the nineteenth century, and one of the most influential educationalists of all time, his lectures on the idea of a university given in Dublin in 1852, and later published as a book, changed our idea of education.  

As the founding Rector of the Catholic University, what later became University College Dublin, he was able to put into practice his vision of a liberal education, something that valued the development of the mind for its own sake rather than simply a vocational training aimed at personal advancement.  He was also the founder of that great student debating society, the Literary and Historical Society - the L&H - which has provided a forum for public discourse and debate for over 150 years.  

A fiercely intelligent and universal thinker, Newman’s vision became a guiding force in education in Ireland, and still informs our thinking today.   Newman’s Cardinal's mottoCor ad cor loquitur - 'Heart speaks to heart'- reminds us of also of his wider contribution as a universal Christian thinker to the ecumenical movement around the world.

John Henry Newman will be canonised alongside four remarkable women from around the world, Sr. Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan of India, Sr. Giuseppina Vannini of Italy, Sr. Dulce Lopes Pontus of Brazil, and Marguerite Bays of Switzerland.