From Lambeth Palace
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, continued his ‘Journey in Prayer’ yesterday (Friday), arriving in Coventry where he led prayers for hope, friendship and reconciliation.
On the second day of his prayer pilgrimage before his enthronment, the Archbishop of Canterbury was welcomed back to the diocese where he served for 15 years as a priest and canon.
Hundreds on Broadgate in Coventry city centre prayed with Archbishop Justin, who said he was delighted to return to the diocese where he was ordained in 1992. Many later joined him in the city’s cathedral, where he led prayers throughout the day.
Accompanied by Asian Christian drummers and local school children, the Archbishop walked with crowds to the ruins of Coventry's old cathedral to pray for reconciliation.
Amid the ruins, the Archbishop spoke of Coventry Cathedral's deep involvement with reconciliation work, which has involved it in some of the world's most difficult and longstanding areas of conflict.
Cross of Nails
Archbishop Justin told the story of the Coventry Cross of Nails, which Provost Richard Howard made from three medieval nails pulled from the wreckage of the city’s old cathedral after it was bombed during the Coventry Blitz in Word War 2. The words 'Father forgive' were inscribed on a wall in the ruins.
Along with a wooden cross also crafted from the bomb-wrecked cathedral, the Cross of Nails became a potent symbol of friendship and hope in the post-war years, especially in new relationships with Germany and the developing links between Coventry and the cities of Kiel, Dresden and Berlin. It is now recognised as a sign of reconciliation around the world, and over 160 Cross of Nails partner centres have been founded worldwide.
The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, said: "Our new Archbishop is no stranger to Coventry and its remarkable cathedral. He contributed an enormous amount to the life of church and society in Coventry and Warwickshire over the first 15 years of his ministry, and the cathedral's work for peace and reconciliation is deeply in his bones.
"So it is an enormous privilege to welcome Archbishop Justin back to Coventry and to join him in prayer."
Tomorrow the Archbishop will arrive in London, where he will visit St Paul’s and Southwark Cathedrals, walk with singing dancers along the South Bank, and pray with crowds in Borough Market.
His pilgrimage will then take him to Truro on Monday before ending in Chichester on Tuesday.
Archbishop Justin will be enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral on Thursday.
Listen to the Archbishop of Canterbury's 'Journey in Prayer' on Radio 4
Radio 4’s Daily Service on Monday 18th March will feature the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 'Journey in Prayer', including recordings from his visit to Coventry. The show starts at 9.45am. You can listen live – or listen again later – here on the BBC website.