by Fr Julian Booth, Parish Priest at St John the Baptist, Great Haywood, Staffordshire

On February 20th 2021, Pope Francis authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decree concerning the Heroic Virtues of the Servant of God, Ignatius of St. Paul, Passionist Priest, who was born in 1799 and died in 1864. Ignatius Spencer now receives the title 'Venerable'.

Venerable Ignatius Spencer was born into one of the wealthiest and most influential families in England. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge and eventually ordained an Anglican priest.  However in January 1830, he was received into the Catholic Church and after a course of studies in Rome, was ordained in 1832 and returned to work in England.

His work began in the Midlands, at Walsall, West Bromwich, Dudley and Tipton. Here he built Churches, preached and nurtured the faith of the people he served. He also lived and worked at Broadway in Worcestershire and for a time was Spiritual Director at St. Mary's College, Oscott.

In 1846, Ignatius Spencer entered the Passionist novitiate at Aston Hall in Staffordshire.  He was received and clothed in the habit by Blessed Dominic Barberi and took the religious name of Ignatius of St. Paul.  The remainder of his life was spent giving missions in England, Ireland and Scotland and in Europe, begging prayers for Christian unity.

Venerable Ignatius Spencer died in 1864.  He is now buried in Sutton St. Helens in Lancashire beside his co-workers, Blessed Dominic Barberi (1792-1849) and Venerable Elizabeth Prout (1820-1864).

Archbishop Bernard Longley greeted this news:  "It is wonderful that Fr Ignatius Spencer has been declared Venerable so soon after this recognition was bestowed on Mother Mary Joseph (Elizabeth) Prout.  It is surely a moment of grace for all Passionist and for the dioceses of Birmingham, Liverpool and Shrewsbury that the Church now celebrates the witness of three great Servants of God in the Midlands. 

"Alongside our prayer and work for the Canonisation of Blessed Dominic Barberi I would urge all the faithful of our Archdiocese to pray for the Beatification of the Venerable Ignatius Spencer and the Venerable Mary Joseph Prout."