Historic pilgrimage to Durham Cathedral

The pilgrimage took place as part of the Catholic Church's Year of Faith.(Photo: Roman Catholic Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle)

Around 1,500 Catholics from the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle gathered in Durham Cathedral at the weekend to celebrate and witness to their faith.

The gathering at Durham Cathedral – the Shrine of St Cuthbert – was the last of seven pilgrimages being made by people of the diocese to mark the Catholic Church's Year of Faith.

The pilgrimage included a procession and prayers at the tombs of St Bede and St Cuthbert.

The Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Right Reverend Seamus Cunningham, challenged today's consumer culture in a service of Evening Prayer that was also joined by Anglicans.

"Both Saints Cuthbert and Bede, reflecting the beatitudes, died in poverty and peace. We are told that Cuthbert died leaving behind a few half-gnawed raw onions – his only sustenance in his last days - and a shroud for his burial," he said.

"St Bede, when he was dying, gave away all he possessed – a few grains of incense, a little pepper and a small piece of white linen.

"This is a powerful message to us to cling to the right values as we face the challenges of our consumer culture and keep our eyes on the things that truly matter.

"Christ, Cuthbert and Bede, offer a new way of building our world on foundation stones of a happiness that does not depend on what you possess; an ability to share grief and to feel the pain of others, a readiness to be gentle, merciful and peaceful even in the face of ridicule and opposition.

"These are the foundations on which we build a better world, a saner world, a just world – the kingdom of God here and now."

The Year of Faith was launched by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in October last year and will be brought to a close by Pope Francis on 24 November.

The pilgrimage coincided with the exhibition of the ancient Lindisfarne Gospels, being held in Palace Green Library until the end of the month.

Sr Michel Lee, a member of the Diocesan Evangelisation Team that organised the pilgrimage, said: "The gathering exceeded all our expectations and made for a joy-filled and profound united act of worship.

"We are grateful to the Cathedral for their warm and generous welcome. It was a beautiful way to end our pilgrimage of faith during this important Year of Faith."