Last month a group of Catholics walked 35 miles over two days to show solidarity with refugees and honour of Our Lady and of St Wilfrid, the great Diocesan saint of the Leeds Diocese.

The pilgrimage was launched on 6 October to show how local people are supporting and raising awareness of the refugee crisis and how the Catholic community are coming together to celebrate St Wilfred.

The Lampedusa Cross, recently given to Bishop Marcus by the CAFOD workers in the Leeds Diocese, was integrated into the pilgrimage event and the subsequent mass at Ripon Cathedral. This cross, made from the driftwood of broken boats used to carry refugees and migrants across the Mediterranean, provided a powerful symbol for the pilgrims. The terrifying journeys that these people have made is well represented by the symbol of Jesus’s suffering on the cross.

The group left from St. Anne’s Cathedral, Leeds, at 7:45am, Thursday 6 October and arrived at Ripon cathedral, at 11:00am on Saturday 8 October. The cross was used as part of the departure ceremony at Leeds Cathedral.

Upon arrival in Ripon, the pilgrims took part in the Year of Mercy celebratory Mass with Bishop Marcus. The cross had been at St John Mary Vianney parish prior to this event and was processed into church by a parishioner ahead of the formal Entry Procession.  CAFOD Messages of Hope cards were also left for parishioners to fill out.

Bishop Marcus blesses the Lampedusa cross in Ripon CathedralBronagh Daly, one of the two CAFOD Community Participation Coordinators in the Leeds Diocese, commented: “I find the story of the Lampedusa crosses a very moving one. It is a very stark symbol of the suffering of so many refugees and migrants. It really helped me to focus on what each one of us can do to be part of their ‘resurrection’ – to help make them feel welcome, take them into our communities and to find other ways to show solidarity with them”.

This is a slightly updated version of the story appearing in the November J&P Newsletter