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Newman’s belongings to go on display in Birmingham

A 19th-century bust of Cardinal Newman is cleaned using a laser by conservator Veronika Vlkova Antoniou at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. The bust is by Richard Westmacott the younger

An exhibition of items from the life of Cardinal Newman will go on display at the Birmingham City Museum next month.

The exhibition has been organised by Birmingham City Council and the Birmingham Oratory.

Items include Newman’s robes and hat, as well as a portrait by the Birmingham-born artist, William Thomas Roden, which was commissioned to commemorate Newman’s elevation to cardinal in May 1879.

Also on display will be the mitre and crozier which Newman had made in expectation of his being made a bishop, as well as his jewelled pectoral cross.

Other items include a bust of the cardinal by his friend Richard Westmacott the younger, and personal possessions of Newman’s such as a shell engraved with the Immaculate Conception, a reliquary from Newman’s desk, a miniature bust of St Philip Neri, and a pot containing Newman’s quill pens. Newman’s personal items were loaned to the museum by the Birmingham Oratory.

Councillor Alan Rudge, the Birmingham City leader for the papal visit, described the exhibition as an “extraordinary opportunity for people to visit and appreciate these rarely seen items”, and a “unique display” that will “draw visitors from far and wide to see the significant contribution that Cardinal Newman made to our city”. He added that the beatification of Newman by the Pope was “a huge honour for our city”.

The exhibition was announced alongside a programme of Newman-themed events in Birmingham unveiled for the papal visit, including a conference on Newman with talks by Fr Ian Ker and Dr Sheridan Gilley, and a performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius on September 18, the day before the beatification.

The conference has been sponsored by the Catholic Truth Society, and is also the formal launch for the official biography of Cardinal Newman.

Other events planned for the visit include Solemn Second Vespers in the Extraordinary Form at the Oratory on Sunday 19, which will be attended by all visiting cardinals and bishops, and will be followed by Benediction.

Also following the vespers will be veneration of the relics of Cardinal Newman. A Mass of Thanksgiving for the beatification will be said at an evening Mass at the Oratory on Monday 20.

The exhibition opens September 10 and closes January 6 2011. Admission is free. Tickets for the conference are £80, or £45 for the over-60s, the unemployed, or students, and are available from the town hall box office only.