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Buzzing gifts from Norfolk given in person to the Pope

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Earlier this week the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, joined the Archbishop of Canterbury at a private audience with the Pope at the Vatican in Rome. There is a tradition of exchanging gifts on these occasions.

Archbishop Justin Welby presented the Pope with a certificate of a charitable donation made to Bees Abroad, alongside a jar of Bishop Graham’s own honey from his Norwich garden and a bee-design facemask.

The facemask was made by St Agnes Church, Cawston Churchwarden Lyn Fairchild. Bishop Graham said: “It was a privilege to join the Archbishop in an audience with the Pope and I was pleased to offer one of Lyn’s wonderful facemasks as an example of Christian service during the pandemic.”

Lyn responded: “I was very surprised and delighted to receive a message telling me that Bishop Graham was intending to offer the Pope one of the bee facemasks I made him together with a pot of his honey during his visit to Rome with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“Since the start of the Covid pandemic I have made 1,766 facemasks and received donations of well over £6,500 for St Agnes Church Cawston. Despite the easing of restriction many people are still choosing to wear facemask so I am now working on a Christmas range which I still enjoy making and will do so as long as they are needed”.

The Revd Andrew Whitehead, Team Vicar in Cawston said: “When Lyn first started making face coverings, I asked if she could make me a set in colours to match the church’s seasons, as it would be clear we’d be wearing them in churches for some time. She then went on to make sets for other local clergy, including our Bishops. I don’t think anyone would have imagined one of these masks would end up with Pope Francis! Lyn’s efforts have raised thousands of pounds for the church in Cawston and they give a great example of how faith can find expression through compassionate action in the world.”

Bishop Graham and Archbishop Justin were in Rome to attend the Faith and Science: Towards COP26 gathering of faith leaders representing the world’s major religions and scientists at the Vatican to call on the international community to raise their ambition and step up their climate action ahead of COP26. Almost 40 faith leaders signed a joint Appeal, which was presented by Pope Francis to COP26 President-Designate, the Rt Hon Alok Sharma, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Luigi Di Maio.