Diocese of

Hexham and Newcastle

Bishop Séamus Cunningham

Christian and Muslim Women’s Prayers for Peace

St. Mary’s Chapel (Jesmond Shrine) Saturday 14 May 2016

The annual Diocesan Christian/Muslim Women`s event to pray for peace took place at the ruined chapel to Our Lady, Jesmond on Saturday 14 May.

The seventh annual gathering of Christian and Muslim women drew the largest number yet. The event arranged by the Diocesan Department of Interreligious Relations takes place at the ancient, ruined shrine to Mary in Reid Park Road, Jesmond. In ancient times pilgrims would set off to walk to the shrine from Pilgrim Street in Newcastle.

The joint event is both an ecumenical as well as an interfaith occasion. It is greatly appreciated by all who experience it. Many come every year. This year the numbers of Christian and Muslim women was evenly divided: 49 women and two children. One man had to be turned away, regretfully, as it is a women-only event. This has happened before. Perhaps one day the Department will arrange a similar all-male gathering at the shrine.

Mary is a unifying figure for both religions. The readings show Mary as an important figure in the Qu`ran as well as the New Testament.

“Then came the time when the angels said: O Mary! Behold, Allah has chosen you and made you pure, and exalted you above all the women in the world.” Surah 3:42. Later readings from St Luke 1, vs 26-38 and Surah 19 vs 19-22 contrasts the two versions of the birth of Jesus.

One Muslim woman hung back as people left. “I feel this is a holy place,” she said. “I want to stay a bit longer.”

Refreshments were offered at Holy Name parish centre. Hengameh Emani explained the meaning and use of the Tasbe, the Muslim equivalent of the rosary beads and Christine Wickens, explained the use of the rosary.

Those who attended came from several areas including Newcastle, Gateshead, Morpeth, Hexham, a visitor from Manchester, South Shields and Ponteland.