A literary pilgrimage from Sunderland has reached the final stage of its journey.
The Children’s Codex, produced by pupils from schools in Sunderland and Jarrow, has arrived in Rome and will be presented to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday by a delegation, representing all 140 schools involved.
The Codex Amiatinus 1300 commemorative project, funded by Sunderland City Council, South Tyneside Council and the Parish of Jarrow, is retracing the steps of the original Codex which was transcribed and illuminated at Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery and left St Peter’s Church for Rome in AD 716 as a gift from Abbot Ceolfrith to Pope Gregory II.
The project has been driven forward by St Peter’s and St Paul’s churches which now stand on the site of the twin monasteries, with the pupils of every school in Sunderland and a number from Jarrow invited to follow in the monk’s footsteps and contribute illuminated text and drawings based on biblical themes and characters.
The leather bound volume, which left the city in June, will be put on permanent display at the Vatican for future generations of pilgrims to enjoy.
A further two copies of the Children’s Codex have also been produced for St Paul’s and St Peter’s churches, while smaller replicas will be produced and funded by the Bible Society for schools as part of an education pack.
The presentation of the Children’s Codex to Pope Francis at the Vatican will be a proud moment for us allJohn Kelly
Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “The presentation of the Children’s Codex to Pope Francis at the Vatican will be a proud moment for us all.
“It will represent not only the religious significance of the original and our community’s historic literary contribution to the world, but also our community’s commitment to keeping those cultural traditions alive for future generations.
“The creative talents of every child and young person across Sunderland and Jarrow is reflected in the pages of the Children’s Codex, which is our latest literary gift to the Pope and to the world.”
Graham Nicol, Project Co-ordinator from St Peter’s, said: “I’m proud to have been invited to join the delegation to Rome to present the Children’s Codex to His Holiness Pope Francis on behalf of the people of Sunderland and Jarrow.
“Our pilgrimage, which like more than 1,300 years ago started at St Paul’s and St Peter’s, took in Lambeth Palace this time to have the Codex blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but its destination and purpose is the same.”
Ashlin Roy, 15, from St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, who is among the delegation, said: “I feel ecstatic that I am in Rome, and also feel nervous to meet the Pope.”