WORSHIPPERS took part in an annual procession around the streets of St Helens which was the brainchild of a former Holy Cross parishioner who recovered from serious illness.

Hundreds - including families and individuals, young and old - engaged in the local tradition on Sunday afternoon (October 7).

The procession was led by Emeritus Bishop of the Diocese of Hallam, the Rt. Rev. John Raws-thorne and the mayor and mayoress of St Helens, Cllr Patricia Ireland and Mrs Lynn Glover, together with other local clergy.

The Procession wound its way up Church Street, Ormskirk Street, Barrow Street, via the Town Hall piazza to Corporation Street then into Parade Street, arriving at Holy Cross & St Helen church.

During the Procession, decades of the Holy Rosary were recited for a number of intentions - local, national and worldwide, including the family; youth; the Sanctity of Life from conception to natural death; relief of unemployment; relief from disease and famine and the progression of the Sainthood causes for Passion-ists Blessed Dominic Barberi and Mother Elizabeth Prout, both of whom are buried at Sutton.

A particular intention this year was for peace in the Middle East - especially Syria, Iraq and The Holy Land and for refugees from these conflicts.

The Procession concluded with the traditionally sung Benediction service, celebrated by the Bishop.

During his short Homily, Bishop John talked about the importance of offering Rosary prayers for the Pope in today’s world.

In the Catholic Church October is seen as a special month of devotion through The Rosary, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (often referred to as ‘Our Lady’).

The St Helens Annual Family Rosary Procession always takes place on the first Sunday in October - which is known as ‘Rosary Sunday’.

The annual event dates back to the late 1950s, when Holy Cross parishioner Martin Byrne was taken seriously ill and pledged in prayer that if he recovered, he would ensure that an Annual Rosary Procession was initiated in the town.

After his recovery, the tradition has continued unbroken to the present day since the first occasion in 1961.

Organisers said: "We would like thank participants for their continuing presence and express their gratitude to St. John Ambulance for their support in making this annual St Helens tradition possible."

"Next year’s will take place on Sunday, October 6, 2019, processing to St Mary’s, Lowe House, Church, North Road.