Downpatrick pilgrimage for Archbishop of Canterbury

Justin Welby will talk of reconciliation during his Down Cathedral address
Justin Welby will talk of reconciliation during his Down Cathedral address

The leader of the world’s Anglican community will lay a wreath at the resting place of St Patrick when he attends a commemoration to the saint in Downpatrick on Tuesday.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will be the first leader of the church in more than half a century to take part in the annual pilgrimage from Saul Church to Down Cathedral from around 10.15am.

It is said that St Patrick landed close to Saul in the fifth century, and along the roughly two-mile route from the village to the cathedral, the pilgrims are expected to stop and pray a number of times.

The wreath will then be laid at the nearby grave and the Archbishop will take part in the town’s afternoon parade in Main Street.

The church said the visit will be a trip to the very “cradle of Irish Christianity”.

Bishop of Down and Dromore Harold Miller said when the archbishop preaches at the cathedral, the theme of his address will be “reconciliation”.

He said: “The issues that we constantly face in politics and human relationships remind us powerfully that the journey of reconciliation is far from complete.

“There can still be mistrust, fear and even hatred in our hearts.

“There is no better time than the day of celebration of our common patron saint to remind ourselves of these things, and to remember that it was a man who came from Britain to Ireland more than 1,500 years ago who has become our shared example of how a damaged culture can be changed.”