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Bishops and Pope will pose for historic photograph at Oscott

The bishops of England and Wales will pose with Pope Benedict to recreate a historic painting of the restoration of the hierarchy in Britain.

When Pope Benedict XVI goes to St Mary’s College near Birmingham at the end of his visit to Britain, he will sit at the middle of a circle of bishops for a photograph that will recreate a historic moment in the British Church’s history.

The painting, which will be recreated with Pope Benedict at its heart features the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster Nicholas Wiseman and other bishops. Cardinal Newman is also part of the meeting, which was the first Provincial Synod of Westminster to take place after the hierarchy was restored in 1850. Pope Pius IX issued a papal bull “universalis ecclesae” establishing the hierarchy in England. Until then Britain had been treated as mission territory.

Cardinal Wiseman was called to Rome where he was told he would become Archbishop of Westminster. He stirred up anti-Catholic sentiment in England when he issued his first pastoral letter about the restoration of the hierarchy from Rome entited From out of the Flaminian Gate.

The meeting depicted in the painting took place in 1852 at Oscott. At the event, Cardinal Newman preached his now famous Second Spring sermon about the return of English Catholicism.

In 2002, the bishops of England and Wales also sat for a portrait photograph based on the painting to commemorate the 150th anniversary of that first Synod of Westminster.