Prince Charles has had a short meeting with the Pope during a royal visit to the Vatican. The encounter took place as the Prince of Wales attended the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the first English saint to be created in decades.
The future Head of the Church of England met the Head of the Catholic Church as people from across the world came together in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in which the Pope confirmed the sainthood of Cardinal Newman and four other holy women and men. The other new saints include Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, called ‘the Brazilian Mother Teresa’ during her lifetime and a Swiss seamstress named Marguerite Bays.
Charles arrived in Rome on Saturday for the celebrations marking the creation of Saint John Henry Newman. Ahead of the ceremony on Sunday in which he was created a saint, Charles wrote an article for the Osservatore Romano reflecting on the legacy of the man who spent much of his life trying to bring the Anglican and the Catholic churches closer together.
Cardinal John Henry Newman was born in London in 1801 and originally became an Anglican minister. He set up the Oxford Movement which aimed to revive and further spread the beliefs and practices of the Church of England before converting to Catholicism in 1845. He was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII and died in Birmingham in 1890. His canonisation followed strict Vatican rules which state that two miracles attributed to a person must be authenticated by the Holy See before sainthood can be confirmed.
Following the canonisation, the Prince of Wales attended a reception at the college in Rome where John Henry Newman studied to become a Catholic priest, Pontificio Collegio Urbano. There, Prince Charles gave a speech in which he praised the churchman for being ” able to advocate without accusation, disagree without disrespect and, perhaps most of all, to see differences as places of encounter rather than exclusion.”
The Prince of Wales added, ”these are principles that continue to inspire, and to guide each new generation.”
This isn’t the first time that Charles and Francis have had an audience. The Pope and the prince last met in 2017 when the prince visited Rome with the Duchess of Cornwall.
However, while that trip was part of an official visit, this encounter was just one element of a special religious celebration. The Prince of Wales, who has done much work to bring together different religious communities in the United Kingdom, was keen to underline how important England’s new saint was in bridging divisions.