Prince William’s ancestor on path to Catholic sainthood

Prince William ancestor

A 19th century English Catholic priest who was an ancestor of Britain’s Prince William, and Prince Harry is on the path to sainthood.

On Saturday, the Vatican said Pope Francis had approved a decree recognising the “heroic virtues” of George Spencer. Fr. Spencer was a priest of the Passionist religious order who lived from 1799 to 1864.

Prince William and his brother Prince Harry are related to Spencer through their mother, Diana Spencer, the late Princess of Wales, who died in 1997.

Spencer was Diana’s great-great-great-uncle, and also a great-uncle of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill, according to the website of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury.

He grew up on the Spencer ancestral estate in Althorp, where Diana is buried.

Spencer left the Anglican Church and took the name “Ignatius of St Paul” after becoming a Catholic priest.

After his ordination in Rome, he returned to England and ministered to poor Irish migrants in the West Midlands.

In Britain, the Passionist religious order has been working on his sainthood cause for decades, investigating his life and writings.

The Pope’s approval of the decree means Spencer now has the title “venerable”.

The “four steps of the path to canonization as a saint in the Catholic Church”, are in the following sequence: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed and Saint.

The first step is based on the competence and judgment of the local diocese. The next three steps require formal recognition by Vatican authorities (i.e., the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the pope).

Spencer’s sainthood cause is still in the early stages. One miracle would have to be attributed to Spencer for him to be beatified. Then another for him to be made a saint.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that only God performs miracles but that saints who are believed to be with God in heaven intercede on behalf of people who pray to them. A miracle is usually the medically inexplicable healing of a person.


Sydney Morning Herald

Royal Central


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,