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The refugee crisis facing the world today is enormous. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do or how to respond. Often, we all hear about are statistics and we can lose the reality that the refugee crisis is about people. Although we may feel powerless to change situations sometimes small actions make a difference.

Francesco Tuccio is a carpenter from the small Italian island of Lampedusa. When hundreds of refugees who were fleeing Eritrea and Somalia drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, he was moved to gather the driftwood from the wrecked boats and turn them into crosses, which he offered to survivors as a small but powerful symbol of hope.

On his visit to the island of Lampedusa, where so many refugees lost their lives in search for safety, Pope Francis said, “The Lord needs our hearts to show his merciful love towards the least, the outcast, the abandoned, the marginalised.”  He then carried one of the Lampedusa crosses at a memorial Mass to commemorate people who have died, and the British Museum is now displaying a Lampedusa cross as a reminder to people of the refugee crisis the world is facing.

As part of our response to the Year of Prayer, the pupils from St Edwards School, Sherfield English, made a copy of the Lampedusa cross which was blest by the Bishop at the Education mass last June. Since then the cross has been travelling from school to school around the diocese and has now reached Bristol. We hope that the cross will serve as a focus for prayer and remind pupils of the plight of refugees. Schools have been really creative in the way they have used the cross. It began its journey with Wardour school who took it to their parish, Sacred Heart, Tisbury to share with the wider community. Along the way it has been shared with different groups, dances have been created around it, poetry and prayers written. It will be brought back to the Cathedral on October 22nd by the Gloucester partnership when we once again return for our education mass