Today in the church calendar is Blessed John Henry Newman’s ‘optional memorial’.
Next year it will be St John Henry Newman’s Day because this coming Sunday he is to be declared a saint by Pope Francis during an open air Mass in Rome.
Newman is England’s first post-Reformation saint.
He has left us his popular hymns Lead, Kindly Light and Praise to the Holiest in the Height.
People associate him most with Oxford where he was an Anglican and Birmingham where he was a Roman Catholic.
But first he was a teenager in Alton.
His father John was a failed banker and in 1816 the family had to give up their London and country houses and move to Hampshire.
In Alton he managed a brewery but this also failed.
His son had become an Evangelical on arrival in Alton aged 15. The following year he went up to Oxford and so was away in term time.
Two hundred years after student John Henry Newman finally left the town he is being declared a saint.
The Newman house is at 59 High Street, on the Pilgrims’ Way (and recently occupied by estate agents Gascoigne-Pees). It is marked with a blue plaque.
If you are walking from Chawton to Alton look out for the plaque on the right opposite Alton Pharmacy.
Newman, like St Thomas Becket, was born in the City of London.