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Diocese of Newport

In England

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Newport (ENGLAND), Diocese of (NEOPORTENSIS).—This diocese takes its name from Newport, a town of about 70,000 inhabitants, situated at the mouth of the river Usk, in the county of Mon-mouth. Before the restoration of hierarchical government in England by Pius IX in 1850, the old “Western District” of England had, since 1840, been divided into two vicariates. The northern, comprising the twelve counties of Wales with Monmouthshire and Herefordshire, was called the Vicariate of Wales. When the country was divided by an Apostolic Brief dated September 29, 1850, into dioceses, the six counties of South Wales, with Monmouthshire and Herefordshire, became the Diocese of Newport and Menevia. Menevia is the Latin name for St. David’s, and the double title was intended to signify that at some future day there were to be two distinct dioceses. The first bishop of the Diocese of Newport and Menevia was the Right Reverend Thomas Joseph Brown, O.S.B., who had already, as vicar Apostolic, ruled for ten years the Vicariate of Wales. A further readjustment of the diocese was made in March, 1895, when Leo XIII separated from it five of the counties of South Wales, and formed a new vicariate, which was to consist of all the twelve Welsh counties except Glamorganshire. Since that date the name of the diocese has been simply “Newport”, and it has consisted of Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire, and Herefordshire. The Catholic population (1910) is about 45,000, the general population being about 1,050,000.

The diocesan chapter, in virtue of a Decree of the Congregation of Propaganda, April 21, 1852, issued at the petition of Cardinal Wiseman and the rest of the hierarchy, was to consist of monks of the English Benedictine Congregation resident in the town of Newport. As the congregation, up to this date (1910), have not been able to establish a house in Newport, permission from the Holy See has been obtained for the members of the chapter to reside at St. Michael’s pro-cathedral, Belmont, near Hereford. The chapter comprises a cathedral prior and nine canons, of whom four are allowed to be non-resident. Their choral habit is the cuculla or frock of the congregation with a special almuce. In assisting the bishop they dispense with the cuculla, and wear the almuce over the surplice. The present bishop, the Right Reverend John Cuthbert Hedley, O.S.B., was consecrated as auxiliary on September 29, 1873, and succeeded in February, 1881, to Bishop Brown. He resides at Bishop‘s House, Llanishen, Cardiff. The pro-cathedral is the beautiful church of the Benedictine priory at Belmont. There are in the diocese about 40 secular diocesan priests, 21 Benedictines (of whom 15 work on the Mission), and 14 Rosminian Fathers. There are five deaneries. The principal towns are Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, and Merthyr Tydvil. The only religious house of men is the Cathedral Priory, Belmont, which is the residence of the cathedral prior and chapter, and is also a house of studies and novitiate for the English Benedictines. Of religious women there are houses of Poor Clares, Our Lady of Charity, the Good Shepherd, Sisters of Nazareth, Ursulines of Chavagnes, St. Joseph of Annecy, St. Vincent de Paul, and others. There are four certified Poor Law schools: one for boys, at Treforest, and three for girls—two, at Hereford and Bullingham respectively, conducted by the Sisters of Charity, one at Cardiff, conducted by the Sisters of Nazareth. There are 50 churches in the diocese, besides several school chapels and public oratories. There are about 11,000 children in the Catholic elementary schools. There are four secondary schools for girls, and one center (in Cardiff) for female pupil teachers.

F. A. CROW


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