The first-ever Holiest Pumpkin Contest at the Newman Center took place in October 2019 in celebration of St. John Henry Newman’s canonization by Pope Francis (10/13/2019). Teams of students were instructed to pierce holes into a pumpkin in the shape of St. John Henry Newman’s profile. The artistic results were luminary!
Each team was given a printed image of the new saint’s stately side profile and nails of various sizes. Hammers were shared to encourage cooperation and kindness. Groups were first judged upon the cleanliness of their gutted pumpkins and the surrounding work areas.
Once the time limit was reached, a lighted candle was placed in each pumpkin. Until a creative, forward-thinking student realized that a smartphone flashlight would make the pumpkins glow. Pumpkin artists added many fine details, including the cross, the outline of the zucchetto (that little red cap that Cardinals wear), Newman’s Coat of Arms, and the unmistakable Roman collar.
The Holiest Pumpkin was determined after a panel of judges ranked each pumpkin for creativity and light. As any saint or holy person reminds us, our lives must light the way for others, illuminated by Christ, whose love burns in our hearts.
As Pope Francis said in his homily on the day of Newman’s canonization, “Let us ask to be like that, ‘kindly lights’ amid the encircling gloom.” which is a reference to St. John Henry Newman’s poem The Pillar of the Cloud, which was later put to music as a hymn titled “Lead, Kindly Light.”
To read more about why Newman Centers worldwide are named after the now-saint, go to Our Story.