In this part of the North-East of England we have a rich Christian heritage.
Our most celebrated and local saint is Hilda. St Hilda stood in the great Celtic Christian tradition which was rooted in Ireland and St Patrick.
Columba went from Ireland to Scotland, founding a monastic community on Iona.
St Aidan was sent from Iona to the North-East where he founded a Christian community on Lindisfarne off the North Northumberland coast, becoming the first Bishop of Lindisfarne.
St Aidan himself asked Hilda to found a small monastery north of the River Wear before appointing her as Abbess of Hartlepool. She was again asked to found a monastery, this time in Whitby where she remained until the end of her life.
One of Hilda’s contemporaries was St Cuthbert who, like St Aidan before him, became Bishop of Lindisfarne and was influential in the development of Christianity in the North-East.
All these Celtic saints had at the centre of their lives a deep desire to share the Good News of the Gospel with those they met and to kindle the light of Christ in this place. That light kindled so long ago continues to burn in the worship and witness of our churches.
All Christians should have the deep desire like Columba, Aidan, Hilda and Cuthbert to share the good news and be lights of the world in their generation and in their communities.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is the 102nd person to hold the office of Archbishop of York.
St Paulinus was the second Bishop of York and it was Paulinus who baptised St Hilda in a small wooden church on what is now the site of York Minister.
Archbishop Sentamu values this great connection and has drawn inspiration from the stories of the Northern Saints and is embarking upon a pilgrimage of prayer and blessing to share the Good news of Christ afresh with those who he meets.
His pilgrimage started in the Whitby area this week and will continue throughout the Diocese of York. The Archbishop is beginning in Whitby in recognition of the importance of our town in the history of Christianity in England.
It was important for those Celtic saints to walk rather than to ride on a horse. By walking they met the people where they were – sharing their stories and sharing the Gospel face to face amid the complexities of human life.
This is an example that the Archbishop is following as he walks amongst us and shares our stories and the faith of Christ.
We pray with our Archbishop that following the example of those great saints that we and he may be blessed as he walks amongst us.