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Day two of the Archbishop's prayer pilgrimage - Coventry

Friday 15th March 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, continued his ‘Journey in Prayer’ today, arriving in Coventry where he led prayers for hope, friendship and reconciliation

Archbishop Justin Welby walking with drummers in Coventry, 15 March 2013

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.

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."

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.

'Prayer for Pakistan'

Archbishop Justin also prayed for Christians in Pakistan who had been attacked in recent days.

Introducing the prayer, the Archbishop said: “Over the last few days there has been extreme violence against Christians in Pakistan, particularly in Lahore which is a city in northern Pakistan that I visited during my time at Coventry Cathedral. Many homes have been burnt, along with several churches. And so as we pray for reconciliation, I’m going to say a prayer about those people and those places. I’m going to pray for those who are victims and also those who are perpetrators which is not an easy thing to do.”

He then offered the following prayer:

"Lord Jesus, the gift of security, of safety, is one that is enormously precious to us. And yet we often forget how extraordinary it is that we can come and go, and that we’re always safe. People can come to this cathedral and be safe. In our homes – in Southam, in Coventry, in the towns and villages of this diocese – we’re safe. We pray for those who’ve found no safety in the last few days, who’ve been attacked. We pray for their protection. Lord look upon them with your mercy. We pray for those whose hearts are so filled with hatred that they feel compelled to attack others because of their faiths. Lord, turn their hearts, let evil designs and intentions be defeated. Bring reconciliation."



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.


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