A Lampedusa Cross, hand-carved from the driftwood of capsized refugee boats, will be displayed in the Cathedral of Our Lady and St Thomas in Northampton in an act of solidarity with the plight of refugees.
The cross will then be taken on a tour of the Northampton Diocese when special events will be held.
The cross was presented to Bishop Peter Doyle by CAFOD Northampton representative Deborah Purfield.
The Lampedusa crosses are carved by hand by Italian carpenter, Francisco Tuccio. Mr Tuccio was so heartbroken when he met some of the survivors at his local church, he wanted to help but had nothing to give.
The only thing he could think to give them was a symbol of hope. He collected the broken pieces of wood that had washed ashore from the remainder of their boat and made the Lampedusa Cross. He offered this simple, handmade cross to the survivors of the disaster as a sign of hope, solidarity and love.
Pope Francis carried a Lampedusa cross at a memorial service for those who had died and one of the crosses is being displayed in the British Museum.
The crosses will now act as a symbol for communities in England and Wales as they respond to the refugee crisis. Parishioners from Northampton and the surrounding areas have organised pilgrimages, with the cross, to show solidarity with the refugees arriving in the UK, as well as praying for those far from our shores.
As part of a campaign led by the Catholic charities CAFOD, CSAN and the Jesuit Refugee Service, each Catholic cathedral in England and Wales has been presented with a cross and invited to display it.
Catholics of all ages in schools, churches and communities in Northampton are also sharing messages of welcome, hope and love, which will be shared with refugees in the UK as an act of solidarity and dedicated at a special event to take place in November.
CAFOD representative in Northampton, Deborah Purfiled said: “This is a wonderful symbol of solidarity. A very clear message that we stand alongside our refugee brothers and sisters who are facing such hardships. Parishes all over the diocese will be sending messages of hope so that they know they are not alone and that we are thinking of them.
“Many of us feel the same sentiment that the carpenter Francesco Tuccio has spoken of, that feeling of ‘what can I do to make a difference?’
“Through the pilgrimage, we feel we are offering a welcome to the refugees arriving in the UK, as well praying for those far from our shores. We also feel we are answering the call of Pope Francis to show our love for those who are suffering.”
CAFOD is working with local partner organisations in Europe and beyond to provide practical help to those fleeing their homes, calling on the UK government to take a fair and proportionate share of refugees – from both within and outside the European Union – and pushing for the establishment of safe and legal routes to enable refugees to reach safety.
The three Catholic charities have together produced a pilgrimage reflection, featuring seven stages where communities can consider the plight of refugees and reflect on Scripture and the recent teachings of Pope Francis. The reflection can be used by the many dioceses that are planning pilgrimages as part of the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis.