There was a new face leading the way for an annual Boxing Day pilgrimage in Yorkshire which has its origins in the 12th century.
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Bishop James Bell, the Bishop of Knaresborough and now the Area Bishop for the Ripon episcopal area in the new diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, was handed the responsibility last Christmas by the retiring Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, John Packer, who had led 14 previous pilgrimages. Bishop James was joined by the new Dean of Ripon, John Dobson, on his first Boxing Day pilgrimage, which runs from Ripon Cathedral to Fountains Abbey.
Bishop James said: “Its just fantastic that so many people from so many backgrounds feel that this is something they want to take part in. Its very special for me.”
The four-mile walk followed a short service of Holy Communion in the cathedral and the route followed the River Skell out of the city, through the Studley Royal Deer Park and on to the National Trust site at Fountains Abbey. The route follows in the route of a group of 12th century Cistercian monks who set off from Ripon Cathedral on December 26th, 1132, to found Fountains Abbey.
Speaking at the service at the abbey, Bishop James said he was conscious of following in his predecessors’ footsteps.
“As we walked in the footsteps of those 12th century Cistercian monks who set off from Ripon Cathedral on December 26, 1132, I was also conscious that I was following Bishop John (Packer), the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds who led this pilgrimage for 14 years and loved every minute of it.”