Catholic pilgrimage ends in Christchurch
Motorists slowed to watch a group of students carry a four-metre crucifix through central Christchurch on Friday afternoon, marking the end of a South Island pilgrimage and the start of World Youth Day.
Students from St Bede's walked the length of Barbadoes St carrying the cross, built from timber salvaged from the earthquake-damaged Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, to the grounds of Catholic Cathedral College, the last stop after visiting 11 South Island Catholic colleges.
They joined 170 Catholic school students at Catholic Cathedral College who had gathered to stage a Kiwi version of World Youth Day, a global youth event organised by the Catholic church.
Event organiser Abina Pope said World Youth Day was "an opportunity for students of the same age to come together, share ideas and listen to various members of religious organisations".
Students from across the South Island were invited to attend the weekend-long event, where activities included volunteer work at the City Mission, a barbecue on Saturday night and a disco held at the Catholic Cathedral College.
Hosting rights of the global World Youth Day rotated annually, with festivities this year based in Krakow, Poland, where Catholics by the hundreds of thousands had gathered.
Pope Francis arrived at the event on Friday and called for attendees to help "alleviate the suffering" of refugees from war-torn countries.
A crucifix was carried across Europe to all attending countries before returning to Poland, something organisers in Christchurch wanted to mirror.
Students will walk an inter-faith pilgrimage through Christchurch on Sunday, visiting religious locations across the city including the Transitional Cathedral on Hereford St.
"On Sunday night they'll live stream the papal mass from Poland," Pope said.
"Then we'll place the cross inside the perimeter of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament to assure the people of Canterbury we are strong in our faith and we will rebuild."