London: Pope Francis has gifted fragments believed to be from the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified to form part of a new processional cross which will be used at the coronation of Britain's King Charles next month.
The new cross, made from recycled silver along with Welsh slate and reclaimed wood, was a gift from the king to the Church in Wales to mark its centenary in 2020. It will lead the coronation procession at Westminster Abbey in London on May 6.
It features two small shards from the relic donated by the pope which have been shaped into a cross behind a rose crystal gemstone.
"In a significant ecumenical gesture, the Cross of Wales will incorporate a relic of the True Cross, the personal gift of Pope Francis to His Majesty The King to mark the Coronation," the Church in Wales, a branch of the Anglican Church, said in a statement.
After the coronation, the cross will be shared between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Wales.
"Its design speaks to our Christian faith, our heritage, our resources and our commitment to sustainability," said Andrew John, the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, who blessed the cross at a service on Wednesday in Llandudno in North Wales.
"We are delighted too that its first use will be to guide their majesties into Westminster Abbey at the Coronation Service." Charles has close links to Wales. As heir to the British throne, he held the ancient title of Prince of Wales until he became king last September on the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth. His son and heir William is now Prince of Wales.