Buckfast Abbey's Madonna and Child statue marks millennium

image captionThe sculpture was designed to be "smiling" and "welcoming"

A modern Madonna and Child statue has been unveiled ahead of the 1,000th anniversary one of the oldest active monasteries in the UK.

The smiling sculpture at Buckfast Abbey in Devon has been designed to welcome the half a million annual visitors, officials said.

It was commissioned three years ago and was blessed by the abbey's superior, Abbot David Charlesworth on Sunday.

The Abbey reaches its millennium in 2018.

image captionThe Madonna and Child statue was created by Devon sculptor Isabel Coulton
image captionThe new statue was designed to echo an existing one inside which dates back to Medieval times

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