Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivers St Patrick's Day message of hope
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has delivered a powerful message of hope and reconciliation to the people of Northern Ireland as he took part in the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Downpatrick.
Speaking during a service at Down Cathedral, the leader of world Anglicanism said: "You have embarked with enormous courage on the long road to reconciliation and you are the symbol of hope for so many around the world. Don't give up. Make it work.
"It is a gift of God to you for the world.
"It is held in your hands as a treasure.
"It is something that comes from the peace of God."
Archbishop Welby, who is visiting Northern Ireland as a guest of Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, is the first head of the Anglican church to visit the saint's burial place on St Patrick's Day for 50 years.
The archbishop, who has made reconciliation a key priority for his ministry, preached at Down Cathedral and afterwards encouraged young people from across the Protestant-Catholic divide to be peacemakers in their different walks of life.
He also took part in the town parade, when 30,000 people packed the streets
Earlier in the day, the Archbishop joined world Methodist vice-president, Gillian Kingston, at Downpatrick Methodist Church to launch a new co-operation plan for the Anglican and Methodist Churches.
During his visit to Downpatrick, he also spoke via mobile phone to mourners at the funeral of Christians killed two days ago in church bombings in the Pakistani city of Lahore.
Twin attacks on Sunday outside Christ Church and St John's Catholic Church in the city saw 17 people murdered and many more injured.
The Archbishop had been trying to make contact with the Right Rev Irfan Jamil, Bishop of Lahore, since Sunday's attacks.
He finally succeeded yesterday morning when Bishop Jamil answered his phone during the funeral service in Lahore.
The Bishop held his phone up to a microphone so that those gathered could hear directly from the Archbishop.
He translated as Archbishop Welby spoke to the mourners attending the funeral service and prayed along with them.