An open-air Mass in Coventry, which will be the culmination of the Pope's forthcoming state visit to Britain, is expected to attract up to 250,000 people.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham said the service to beatify the 19th century Cardinal, John Henry Newman, would be held at Coventry Airport on September 19.

Announcing details of planning for the event, the archdiocese said invitations to the Mass would be distributed through parishes, schools and other institutions.

Addressing reporters at a news conference in Birmingham, the Rt Revd William Kenney, who has pastoral responsibility for Coventry, said he was delighted that Pope Benedict XVI was coming to the West Midlands.

Bishop Kenney also read a message from the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Revered Bernard Longley, who is currently visiting El Salvador.

In his message, the Archbishop said he was looking forward to welcoming pilgrims from within and beyond the United Kingdom.

"This Papal visit is a tremendous honour for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and indeed for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, as it will be the first time during his Pontificate that Pope Benedict has personally beatified any Servant of God," the archbishop stated.

The move will bring Cardinal Newman, who died in 1890, one step closer to becoming England's first non-martyred saint since the Reformation.

Canon Tom Farrell, the parish priest at Coventry's Christ the King Catholic Church, has been appointed as a local co-ordinator for the airport Mass.

Officials estimate that up to 250,000 worshippers may attend September's event, although a Papal Mass held at Coventry Airport in May 1982 attracted around 350,000 people.

Confirming that invitations would be issued through various Catholic organisations for this year's event, Canon Farrell stressed that people of all faiths could apply.

Asked if uncertainty surrounding the future of the Coventry Airport site might affect the plans, Cannon Farrell replied: "We have had lots of meetings with all the parties involved.

"The booking for September 19th is safe and secure irrespective of the outcome of the airport's future."

Pope Benedict XVI will start his four-day trip in Scotland on September 16 where he will be received by the Queen at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh before travelling to Glasgow for an open air Mass at Bellahouston Park.

The Pontiff will travel to London where he will meet the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace and pray with other church leaders at Westminster Abbey, organisers of the trip have confirmed.

His itinerary will also include an address at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament, before his visit ends with the open-air Mass at Coventry.

Former RC Archbishop of Birmingham, The Most Rev Vincent Nichols, now Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Catholics in England and Wales, said: "We are confident that the presence and message of Pope Benedict will encourage everyone to aspire again to a vision of life in our society marked by mutual trust, compassion and truth.

"The great Christian tradition of faith and life, which has so shaped our culture, has so much more to offer. This gentle yet profound teacher of his faith will encourage and strengthen all who receive his words."