~from The Telegraph
The Vatican is close to attributing a miracle to Cardinal Newman that would pave the way for Britain's most famous convert to Roman Catholicism to become this country's first saint for 40 years.
Insiders in Rome believe that the Vatican will announce a decision within months, meaning that the former Anglican whose conversion shocked Victorian England could be beatified as early as next year.
The controversial theologian and writer of the hymn Lead Kindly Light, who converted in 1845 and died in 1890, would then be declared "Blessed" and be one step from canonisation, for which a second miracle would be needed.
The profile of John Henry Newman was boosted when Tony Blair gave Pope Benedict XVI three signed photographs of him at their meeting in Rome in June.
At the time the gesture was widely interpreted as symbolising Mr Blair's own intention to convert to Catholicism after he stepped down as Prime Minister.
But Vatican sources pointed out as that, a young student, the Pope studied Newman and has been a devotee ever since. The cause of the 19th century priest was given priority treatment when his case was sent to Rome a year ago, partly because of the Pope's personal interest.
The Vatican's Congregation for Saints normally takes years to sift such cases, but medical experts are already scrutinising evidence that a 69-year-old American was inexplicably cured of a crippling spinal condition after praying to the cardinal.
One Vatican source said: "The approval of the miracle is expected to be the last significant hurdle. The congregation's experts are well advanced in their work, and all the signs look positive. We could even have a decision by Christmas."