The Archbishop of York arrived at Holy Island off the coast of Northumbria on Saturday having walked St Cuthbert’s Way, setting off from Melrose last Monday.
As he journeyed along the route he was praying for the renewal of God’s Church in the North. The week long pilgrimage ended with a celebration of the Eucharist in the parish church of St Mary’s, which stands on the site of the original monastery founded by Aidan.
Most Rev Stephen Cottrell told Premier he feels more in tune with God while on a pilgrimage.
"I think I've been more attuned and alert to the presence of God. God is always present in every moment in every footstep in every heartbeat. But usually, we're so busy, we miss it. So I think when you slow down, and when you get out into the world and walk, you're much more likely to tune in to the presence of God in each moment and in each thing."
He added: “We all know that life is a journey. Faith can teach us that this journey can be a holy pilgrimage where we can encounter God and which leads ultimately to eternal life with him.
"This week I have been privileged to take some time out of my busy life to slow down, think and look at what is around me in this incredibly beautiful world that God has made and to enjoy journeying at a different pace. I think one of the reasons we go on pilgrimage is to is to learn how to be slow, to give space and time for thought and reflection, and walking the 62 miles of St Cuthbert’s Way has once again enabled me to do this. The scenery has been stunning, the weather kind, and the welcome and hospitality I’ve encountered has been warm and encouraging. I have been praying for the Church in the North that we may be holy, that people may see Jesus Christ within us as we reach out in love and service to our neighbours, sharing the good news that life with Jesus brings wholeness and peace.”
Archbishop Stephen is a keen advocate of pilgrimages and has walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain twice, as well as walking to places in England including Walsingham, Canterbury, Durham and York.