Pope Benedict XVI is to hold an open-air Mass in Birmingham during his visit to the UK this year.

The Vatican announced that original plans to hold Mass at Coventry Airport had now been dropped.

The Catholic church has now asked Birmingham City Council to prepare Cofton Park, near Longbridge, for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who is buried nearby.

Coventry Airport can hold crowds of up to 150,000, while Cofton Park, in the south of Birmingham, holds 80,000.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit, between 16 and 19 September, is the first papal visit to the UK since John Paul II arrived in 1982.

His visit includes meeting the Queen in Edinburgh and open air Masses in Glasgow and London.

Catholic church spokesman Alexander des Forges said the full details of the Pope's itinerary would be published next month.

He confirmed Pope Benedict would make a private pilgrimage to the rooms of Cardinal Newman at the nearby Birmingham Oratory.

The beatification would pave the way for Cardinal Newman to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church.
 
Mr des Forges said: "Both the Vatican and local churches believe the historical resonance of Cofton Park will prove to be a fitting setting for the beatification."

In a statement, Birmingham City Council said: "As a city we will of course afford the Government all possible support to make the papal visit a success."