Archbishop to Open New Pilgrimage Route in Honour of Devon’s Melanesian Martyr
The Archbishop of Canterbury is to open a new pilgrimage route in Devon this weekend in honour of a “missionary bishop” from the county who was killed for his faith 150 years ago.
The Patteson’s Way commemorates John Coleridge Patteson, the first Bishop of Melanesia.
He grew up in Feniton, near Ottery St Mary, and was killed on the Pacific island of Nukapu on 20 September 1871.
Today Melanesian Christians revere Patteson as a martyr and many regard his family home and churches in Devon as places of pilgrimage.
The 8-mile circular route from Feniton church, is a joint initiative between the Melanesian Mission (MMUK), of which Archbishop Justin Welby is President, local schools and the Diocese of Exeter’s new Devon Pilgrim project.
“A route like this is saying that life is more than a journey, it is a pilgrimage where both the way and the destination is God.” Bishop of Exeter
Katie Drew, from MMUK, said “The pilgrimage visits places that were significant to Patteson, the village where he grew up, the town where he first went to school, the church where he was a curate and the Patteson’s Cross memorial, which remembers his life and legacy.”
The Reverend Simon Franklin, who has visited the Solomon Islands and helped devise the route, said “This pilgrimage invites you to be inspired by this one man and the sights that he saw and the story behind those sights, which bring his life alive.”
On Saturday 18 September, Archbishop Justin will unveil a plaque in the churchyard of St Andrew’s Church, Feniton, before meeting local school children and blessing the first pilgrims.
He will then walk the first part of the route with them. The Archbishop will also visit St James and St Anne’s Church in nearby Alfington, where Patteson was a minister, for a live video prayer link-up with the Archbishop of Melanesia, Leonard Dawea.
The Anglican Province of Melanesia is linked with the Diocese of Exeter and covers the South Pacific nations of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
Many of the islands are already being affected by climate change and the Melanesian Mission UK, which is based in Devon, campaigns to raise awareness of their plight.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Justin issued a joint declaration with Pope Francis and the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, calling on everyone to play their part in “choosing life” for the planet and to “listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor”.
The Archbishop’s visit to Devon will include a service at Exeter Cathedral, during which he will preach from the pulpit, which features a stone carving of Patteson.
It will conclude with an afternoon of talks at the Cathedral on climate change, pilgrimage and Patteson’s legacy, organised by the Melanesian Mission UK.
Other guests will include Bishop Willie Pwaisiho, originally from Melanesia, and His Excellency Moses Kouni Mose, the Solomon Islands Ambassador to the EU.
The Bishop of Exeter, the Right Reverend Robert Atwell, said he found visiting sites like the Patteson family grave “deeply moving”.
He said “A pilgrimage like this says something about one person’s story, one person’s discipleship and the cost of that discipleship.
“It is saying that life is more than a journey, it is a pilgrimage where both the way and the destination is God.
“As you tread this path I hope you’ll discover something of yourself and something of hope and resilience in your journey through life.”