A hand-carved cross made from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats has been sited in a South Yorkshire place of worship in an act of solidarity with the migrant crisis.
The Lampedusa Cross, made by residents on the Mediterranean island of the same name which has seen scores of boats wash up on the shore, has been sited in St. Marie’s Cathedral in Sheffield.
Churchgoers who attend St Peters in Chains in Doncaster took part in a pilgrimage through the area in which they walked behind the cross to reflect on those who have lost their lives.
Helen Donlan, chair of the Hallam Justice and Peace Commission, said: “After the pilgrimage, our solidarity with each other and the 65 million displaced people from their homes by war, persecution and hunger was complete.
“Perhaps the angels were telling us that a little suffering from the rain we experienced was good for us as we contemplated the incomparable suffering of those 65 million people.”
It is part of a wider campaign led by the Catholic charities CAFOD, CSAN and the Jesuit Refugee Service, in which each Catholic cathedral in England and Wales has been presented with a cross and invited to display it and use it for pilgrimages.
Anne Prior, CAFOD representative in Doncaster, said: “It was a lovely pilgrimage at which people prayed for those who are affected by the refugee crisis and remembered those who have lost their lives as a consequence.
“Lots of people came to spend a few moments holding the cross, many people saying what a powerful symbol it was and how it honoured those lost.
“Through the pilgrimage, we feel we are answering the call of Pope Francis to show our love for those who are suffering.”
In October 2013 366 migrants died when their boat capsized off Lampedusa and in April 2015 800 people are feared to have drowned when another boat sank in Libyan waters off the island.