THE region’s most senior churchman has begun a week-long vigil praying for peace in the war-torn Middle East.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is leading a vigil at York Minster where he will try and persuade people violence is not the answer.

He began his week-long fast and vigil, entitled Hope and Trust for the Peace of the World, in the St John’s Chapel, on Sunday at 6am, and is praying every hour from 6am to 6pm.

“People always say ‘does prayer change things?’ Well, I’m a father of hope,” he said.

“I’m hoping between now and the end of the seven days the world will recognise a bit of common sense.”

“The Middle East is going through something terrible where the neighbours are killing neighbours and the viciousness of the weapons being used are horrible.

“I genuinely feel I had to do something to say armaments and militarisation don’t bring peace in the world.”

Dr Sentamu has taken a selection of items with him on his vigil, including a candle to represent the victims of violence, a globe and a plate from Egypt which is adorned with the Lord’s Prayer and was donated by visiting Bishop Mouneer Anis to recognise conflicts in his country.