The diocese of East Anglia is launching a campaign to promote the Cause of Leonard Cheshire, the war hero who founded a worldwide network of homes for disabled people.

The campaign will begin with a centenary Mass next month celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes.

Cheshire, an RAF bomber pilot during World War II, was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military honour, for his bravery in carrying out over 100 missions.

After the war he cared for sick ex-servicemen and became a Catholic, aged 31. He went on to set up residential homes for disabled people. By his death in 1992 his charity operated 270 homes. In 1959 he married Sue Ryder, a fellow convert and charity pioneer.

Fr James Fyfe, who will be promoting the Cause, said the campaign would “begin to try to collect any evidence for sainthood from among the faithful. There is a prayer which invites people to pray to Leonard for a particular reason. If the prayers are answered then evidence is collected, examined and presented. This does not mean that we already think he is a saint – that part is a very long way off and it may be 50 or 100 years hence – it is a discovery process.”

He said the diocese was starting the campaign because Cheshire lived in Cavendish, Suffolk, but that he was a “worldwide figure and many people will be praying for the success of the Cause and we shall reach out to them”.

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