A VICAR’S pilgrimage to Sweden has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

After setting off last month, 64-year-old Hugh White has had to call off the pilgrimage for now.

A group of five set off from York on February 15 and made it as far as Lichfield in Staffordshire, a trek over 100 miles long.

The pilgrimage was a celebration of the diocese of Vaxjo in southern Sweden celebrating its 850th anniversary.

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Mr White, from St Mary’s church in Witney, said: “We wanted to do something together so a pilgrimage seemed like a good idea as the church is strong on pilgrimage.

“The two diocese in Oxford and Vaxjo have made a formal covenant with each other for the last 15 years.

“The idea of going from York to Vaxjo was floated to the Swedes and I thought they would think it’s crazy but they were quite big on it.”

The intention was to journey from York to Oxford, and then on to London, Canterbury and Ramsgate - a total of 500 miles walking, which was scheduled to be completed by late August.

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The group planned to reach Sweden by rail, before continuing the pilgrimage to Vaxjo from Gothenburg.

Mr White, who started at St Mary’s in May, intended to do most of the pilgrimage, in addition to his vicar duties in Witney.

The group consisted of three from York and two from the Swedish church, and expected more to join them in the Oxford diocese, upon expectedly reaching Banbury next month.

Hans Boeryd, a dean in the diocese of Vaxjo, explained the reasoning behind the pilgrimage.

He said: “In the Swedish church, the story of St Sigfrid, who left York to spread the good news in the part of southern Sweden that is now the diocese of Vaxjo is still powerfully alive.”