THE Archbishop of York has told a congregation at York Minster how he never left his mother's bedside at a hospice for seven days, until death parted them.

Dr John Sentamu, delivering his Easter Day sermon today at the cathedral, said: "Please forgive me for this personal memory.

"I remember staying with my mother – in her room at Trinity Hospice – never leaving her side for seven days.

"She was the one person who had loved and cared for this four pound in weight baby who was expected to die before I reached the age of five.

"Even then, there was no guarantee that I would reach the age of ten. Dr Billington, who brought me into the world, said to my mother, ‘What Sentamu needs is to be loved all the time!’ Her love would not let me go and I stayed at her bedside till death parted us."

Quoting Corinthians, he said:"There is nothing love cannot face: there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance."

He spoke of Mary of Magdala, who woke early to go and be with her Lord. "He may be dead and in a sealed tomb but he is still her Lord," he said. "Love can see in the dark when looking for Jesus.

"Sadly, for her, ‘the stone had been moved away from the entrance. Her Lord taken out of the tomb and she did not know where they had laid him’ (John 20: 3) – so she tells Peter and John. "They come and ascertain that the body of Jesus was not there and they ‘go home. But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping, and peered into the tomb’ (John 20: 10 – 11).

"Mary of Magdala was not going anywhere. Love can’t leave the place where the subject of that love is. I fully understand Mary Magdalene’s tenacity which is very much like that of a Yorkshire Terrier: never letting go; and only doing so in order to get a firmer grip."

He said the one great lesson that Mary of Magdala had to teach us was this:"That Easter’s meaning for those who formerly were without hope and without a true direction in life is a source of ever-recurring wonder.

"Now then! Like Mary of Magdala, go and tell. Be anointed with the Holy Spirit and love the poor, the prisoners, the broken and enslaved victims. In the midst of the paralysis of the Brexit-analysis be a realistic reconciler. Be the change you want to see. For we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song."

Earlier, Dr Sentamu said his route to York was the same as the one taken by the highwayman Dick Turpin, 'whose hanging was held at Tyburn with professional mourners who put on a show for the large crowd.'

He quipped: "When I am gone, please do not identify me with Dick Turpin because we took the same route to York for different reasons!"