Pilgrimage of His Grace: Archbishop of York walks 1500 miles

Archbishop of York John Sentamu has completed his Pilgrimage of PrayerReuters

The Archbishop of York has in the last six months walked more than 1.6 million steps, adding up to 1,500 miles and climbing more than 1,200 floors.

He released the data to mark the end of his Pilgrimage of Prayer, Witness and Blessing, with the final service in York Minster.

According to data he recorded on his mobile phone as he went, his 1,627,226 steps amounted to a walk of 1,578 miles.

"The longest walk on the Pilgrimage was a 16-mile trek along the route from Wilton to Redcar, and out onto The Gare – the most northerly point of the Diocese of York," said Archbishop Sentamu. "In total I have walked 1,578 miles wearing my reliable Chris Brasher boots and with my walking poles. I have taken 1,627,226 steps. I have climbed 1,204 floors. I have walked in all weathers, rain, wind, hail, sleet, snow and glorious sunshine."

The pilgrimage began at the start of December in St Mary's, Whitby.

The Archbishop said: "I've prayed with 25,100 people using prayer beads, and saying the Lord's Prayer as well as singing a Taizé chant in over 480 churches. I also said prayers in most schools and hospitals. I have visited 148 schools, including nursery pre-schools, primary, secondary and sixth form colleges, where the standard of teaching and the level of learning taking place is excellent. I have visited 22 hospitals and hospices along the route. Throughout the Pilgrimage we have distributed many booklets exploring how one encounters Jesus Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit, 60,000 book marks and prayer cards.

"I am energised and have been so encouraged by the people that I have met in factories, on farms and on the streets."

He walked part of it with a "pilgrimage companion", the Canon Joanna Udal, who accompanied him from Advent to Easter Day and has now joined the community of The Little Sisters of Jesus.

"There have been so many amazing God moments, for example, 13 Baptisms, Confirmations, prayers for healing and many many blessings," said Arcbishop Sentamu.

The vision for this pilgrimage came from the roots of Britain's Christian heritage. Archbishop Sentamu said he was inspired by the great Northern Saints, such as Aidan, Cuthbert, and Hilda, all of whom took to the road to proclaim the Good News.

The Telegraph, which joined him towards the end of the pilgrimage, reported that he embarked on the pilgrimate after he heard a voice telling him to go "on the road" during one of his his annual nine-day retreats of silent reflection on Holy Island off the Northumberland Coast. His plans were delayed by recovery from prostate cancer in 2013 and the Queen gave him her blessing to be absent from normal duties.

The Telegraph reported that he spoke of his time living under Idi Amin's in Uganda, which he fled in 1974. Speaking at St Oswald's Church in Fulford and Heslington Church, he described how eight friends from Makerere University in Kampala had been butchered in front of him and a vice chancellor he knew from university also disappeared. 

"Why I am still alive is a mystery to me," he said. "I was very resentful. It was very hard and I was having nightmares." Eventually, he was given "the strength to forgive Amin and the general who did these things".

He described how he met one mother in the middle of a road which was flooded and she asked him to baptise her child. He baptised another child in a well.  As he went he was quizzed about issues such as  poverty, same-sex marriage and Islamic State.

Sentamu has said he will make a statement outlining his position on the EU referendum in the coming days. He has previously said he has not heard any "cogent argument" why Britain should leave.