Northern Ireland’s peace is a treasure which should not be lost, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Justin Welby said the country was a symbol of hope around the world and he urged people not to give up on the “long road” to reconciliation.
He became the first head of the Anglican church to visit the burial place of St Patrick in Downpatrick, Co Down, on St Patrick’s Day for 50 years.
“You are a symbol of hope to so many around the world.
“Don’t give up - make it work. It is a gift of God to you for the world.
“It is held in your hands as a treasure.”
The archbishop made the pilgrimage walk of approximately two miles from Saul, site of one of St Patrick’s first churches, to Down Cathedral for a festive service.
Archbishop of Armagh Richard Clarke, primate of the Church of Ireland, attended the service as well as MP Margaret Ritchie and Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Mitchel McLaughlin.