Following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Pope Francis last year, when Archbishop Justin presented His Holiness with a Coventry Cross of Nails (click here for details), the following exchange of letters took place between Coventry and the Vatican (click here and here):
FROM BISHOP CHRISTOPHER AND DEAN JOHN TO POPE FRANCIS:
24th October 2016
We are writing to express our very great joy that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to Your Holiness a Coventry Cross of Nails during his recent visit to the Vatican. It means a great deal to us that the Archbishop himself wears the Cross of Nails and it is very moving to know that now you have one and that, perhaps, there will be an opportunity for you to wear it from time to time. It was also a joy to discover that the Pastoral Staff you gave to the Archbishop was made very locally in one of the villages of this Diocese.
As the Archbishop may have told you, the Cross of Nails was first made by a priest of the Diocese of Coventry who, on the day after the bombing of Coventry in November 1940, picked up three of the large medieval nails that had once held up the roof of the Cathedral and now lay scattered across the rubble, and welded them into a cross. The sign of the destruction caused by violence became, once again, a sign of God’s power to overcome the sin and pain of the world. At the same time, the words of our Lord, ‘Father, Forgive’ became the prayer of Coventry as its people reached out for a new world rooted in the reconciliation of Christ. Those instinctive Christian responses to the horrors of war led to a world-wide ministry of reconciliation and a Community of the Cross of Nails with nearly 200 centres across the world.
Your Holiness, please know that relationships between the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities throughout the Diocese of Coventry are very strong and that we seek to work closely with our brother in Christ, His Grace Archbishop Bernard Longley, of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and his fellow bishops, clergy and all the faithful.
Please know as well, Holy Father, that you are much loved by the Church of England and by other Churches in this land. We listen to your words and we pray for your universal ministry to all those who confess the name of Christ.
With love in Our Lord Jesus Christ to you in the fellowship of the Cross of Nails
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth
Bishop of Coventry
The Very Reverend John Witcombe
Dean of Coventry
FROM POPE FRANCIS TO BISHOP CHRISTOPHER:
Dear Bishop Cocksworth,
His Holiness Pope Francis has asked me to express his gratitude to you and the Very Reverend John Witcombe for your kind letter of 24 October last. He thanks you for sharing with him the story of the Coventry Cross of Nails and for the devoted sentiments which you expressed.
With the assurance of his prayers for you and those entrusted to your care, His Holiness asks your continued prayerful remembrance for his ministry.
With every good wish, I am
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+ Angelo Becciu