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PILGRIMS CARRY CROSS OF NAILS THROUGH CITY; Pilgrimage 50 years on since first procession through city.

Byline: Mike Malyon

A WORLD-recognised symbol of peace will be paraded through the streets of Coventry tomorrow, to complete a 50-mile journey and crown an historic celebration.

The Cross of Nails has been the focal point of a week-long pilgrimage along the Coventry Way circular footpath, with a service held each night in a local church en route, and culminating in an arrival at the city's Cathedral.

The daily walks have taken in Meriden, Berkswell, Burton Green, Kenilworth, Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Wolston, Brinklow, Ansty, Bedworth and Fillongley. The final stretch will proceed along the River Sherbourne via Allesley into the city centre, to arrive at the 14th century St John the Baptist Church in Fleet Street.

Following a mass dedicated to Christ's Passion, the Cross of Nails, carried by parishioner and local historian Mike Polanyk, will then be taken to Coventry Cathedral, to mark the Golden Jubilee of the first 40-day pilgrimage around the Coventry Diocese, in the year of the consecration of Sir Basil Spence's masterpiece.

The mass at St John the Baptist Church takes place at 4.30pm tomorrow and Father Paul Such will then lead a torch-lit procession for the last leg of the pilgrimage to the Cathedral. Dressed in traditional cope and biretta and swinging an incensefilled thurible the Rector will be accompanied by the Salvation Army Band.

Father Such said: "The Golden Jubilee of the consecration of Coventry Cathedral marks an important milestone for the city.

"Not only is it a happy event for the faith community throughout Coventry, but the building of the new cathedral from the ashes of the old marked the unbeatable spirit of the Coventry people following the devastation of the Blitz.

"Since the phoenix rose from the ashes of evil, the city has gone on to be recognised the world over as a paragon of peace and reconciliation - and the Cathedral is emblematic of that sentiment.

"As one of the oldest buildings in Coventry, St John's has seen its share of major historic events, even playing a part in some key moments - such as acting as a prison for Scottish Royalist soldiers during the Civil War. "We are proud to be part of this celebration, which represents the resurrection of the city at a time when we as Christians are looking to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviou r."

St John's will be celebrating Palm Sunday with a traditional palm procession to the fountain at Precinct Cross where mass will begin at 9.45am.

Palm crosses will be handed out before a return to St John's for the rest of the mass.

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SERVICE: The 14th century St John the Baptist Church in Coventry city centre, where a mass will take place before the final leg of the Cross of Nails pilgrimage. Inset, the first pilgrimage outside the church in 1962
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Mar 31, 2012
Words:474
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