CAPTION: The Archbishop of Canterbury leads the first pilgrims on the new Patteson's Way route in Devon

Archbishop of Canterbury Visits Devon on First Public Trip Since Pandemic

Posted: 18th September, 2021

The Archbishop of Canterbury has visited Devon to open a new pilgrimage route on his first public engagement outside London in 18 months.

Justin Welby was launching the Patteson’s Way, an 8-mile circular walking route in honour of Bishop John Coleridge Patteson who grew up in Feniton, near Ottery St Mary and was killed while on a mission to share his faith in the Pacific islands of Melanesia.

Monday 20 September marks the 150th anniversary of his death.

Local school children helped devise the route

The Archbishop unveiled a plaque at Feniton Parish Church and read out a prayer about climate change by Oliver, a pupil at Feniton Primary school.

He then blessed the first pilgrims before walking a short section of the route with them.

He said “I’m ecstatic. I am seeing real people, it’s the first outside engagement I’ve been allowed for 18 months.

“Devon is a county I don’t know, but it is just so wonderful and lovely.

“We are not just the Church of England; we are the Church FOR England.”

The Archbishop laid flowers at the Patteson family grave

The Patteson’s Way was devised by the Devon-based charity, the Melanesian Mission UK. It is being supported by Devon Pilgrim, a Church of England-funded project which has seen four new pilgrimage routes in the county this year.

Archbishop Justin said “The significance for me of pilgrimage is that you are meeting with God … and moving across the world that God created.

“You meet people that surprise you and God surprises you in how he meets you.”

Oliver said afterwards “I felt really happy that the Archbishop chose my prayer instead of one that he had written himself.

The Archbishop with a Melanesian canoe at Exeter Cathedral

Sophie, who was amongst a group of Feniton Primary School pupils who sang the Archbishop a song, said “I was nervous, it was a big moment, but it was fun and exciting.”

After Feniton, the Archbishop went on to nearby Alfington church, where Patteson was a priest, before taking part in a service of Thanksgiving for the Church in Melanesia at Exeter Cathedral.

Giving a talk after the service, the Archbishop spoke about the fight against climate change, which is particularly relevant because some islands in Melanesia are already disappearing under water.

He said, “Melanesia is not a canary in a coal mine but an alarm bell ringing loudly for us all, calling us to action on climate change.”