Bishop Tom welcomes the Lampedusa Cross to Menevia

IMG_9622Bishop Tom Burns welcomed the Lampedusa Cross to the Cathedral Church of St Joseph in Swansea on Monday 4th July.

The cathedral is one of three designated Holy Doors of Mercy in the diocese of Menevia, the other two being the national shrine of Wales at Cardigan, the church of Our Lady of the Taper and St David’s Priory Church in St David’s Place, Swansea.

The idea of pilgrimage is especially powerful in the light of the current
migration crisis and more people than every before are on forced journeys far from home.

In this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us all to make a pilgrimage, to mark “an extraordinary moment of grace  and spiritual renewal”.
(Misericordiae Vultus)

It’s an opportunity for us to show solidarity with all those fleeing war,
poverty and persecution in our world.

As we make our journey, we reflect: “Who is my neighbour?”

The Bishop knows only too well the perils of the sea: in 1986 he was commissioned as a full-time Chaplain in the Royal Navy where he served in HMS Drake and Devonport naval base and subsequently went to sea with the ships of the First Flotilla (to the Falklands, the Gulf and the Caribbean).

The Lampedusa Cross display, next to the Holy Door of mercy

The Lampedusa Cross display, next to the Holy Door of mercy

In May 1998 he was appointed Queen’s Honorary Chaplain and in 1992 became Bishop of the Forces, visiting Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force units and establishments in the UK and overseas.

Bishop Tom Burns with the Lampedusa Cross

Bishop Tom Burns with the Lampedusa Cross

A Sicilian carpenter, Francesco Tuccio created rough crosses from the wreckage of boat carrying 500 refugees that sank off the island of Lampedusa. He offered the crosses to survivors of that terrible disaster.  They were a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope.

In the words of Pope Francis:

“We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees… are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.”

The cathedral administrator, Rev Fr Benedict Koledoye, is finalising dates for a parish talk on the Year of Mercy – we will add this information as soon as arrangements are firmed up.


On 16th April, 2016 Pope Francis was speaking at Lesbos:

in the sanctuary

in the sanctuary

“God is neither indifferent to, nor distant from, the tragedies that wound humanity. Only those who serve with love build peace.  Service makes us go beyond ourselves and care for others.  It does not stand by while people and things are destroyed, but rather protects them; service overcomes that dense pall of indifference that clouds hearts and minds.  Thank you, for you are the guardians of humanity, for you care with tenderness for the body of Christ, who suffers in the least of his brothers and sisters, the hungry and the stranger, whom you have welcomed.” (cf. Mt 25:35)

If you would like to host the Lampedusa Cross in your parish, then please contact the CAFOD South Wales volunteer centre on 02920 344 882 or email us

You can find resources to inspire you to celebrate the Year of Mercy in your parish or community including our refugee pilgrimage click here:


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