‘From strangers to friends’: Archbishop O’Toole on Welsh pilgrimage

Archbishop Mark O’Toole has praised an ecumenical pilgrimage from the Anglican Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff, to the Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of St David, which included the first time the Cross of Wales, containing shards of the True Cross, entered the Catholic cathedral.

Speaking after the pilgrimage, Archbishop O’Toole of Cardiff, who is also Bishop of Menevia, said it promoted unity among the different faith communities that were present.

“The experience has been one of moving from being strangers to being friends on the journey of life and pilgrimage of life. Very much at the heart of our pilgrimage was the cross of Jesus Christ,” said Archishop O’Toole.

“And we were privileged to be able to welcome for the first time into the Catholic cathedral at St David’s in Cardiff, the Cross of Wales. This is a unique gift of King Charles to the Church in Wales.”

About the Cross of Wales, he added:

“It’s also very precious to us because Pope Francis gifted two relics of the True Cross to this cross, so they are mounted within the Cross of Wales.

“And so it’s an important relic for us and it’s an opportunity to deepen our love for Jesus and for our commitment to follow him and to walk in his path. And for this, today we give thanks to God.”

The pilgrimage started in the early morning at Llandaff Cathedral, with a reflection from Bishop Mary Stallard of Llandaff and Archbishop Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales on the significance of the pilgrimage.

It finished in the Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral where the Cross of Wales was presented, before Archbishop O’Toole led a short Liturgy of the Word Service.

Archbishop O’Toole said there were great unitive benefits to the pilgrimage:

“It was lovely to be joined by a couple of bishops from the Church in Wales, Archbishop Andrew, the Archbishop of Wales, and Bishop Mary, the Bishop of Llandaff, together with lots of other Christians of various denominations, members of other faiths and some politicians from the local senate, and then ordinary brothers and sisters who are working either for the church or who have just joined us as part of the pilgrimage.

“It’s been a very beautiful experience to be able to get to know one another.”

The pilgrimage was led by Dr Philip McCarthy, the creator of Hearts in Search of God, a project promoting walking pilgrimages within the Catholic dioceses of England and Wales.