04/10/2014 12:28 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2014

Reverend Bob Thorn Drowns While Rowing From Dorset To Cornwall For Lenten Pilgrimage

The body of Reverend Bob Thorn, a popular pastor in Burton Bradstock, Dorset, U.K., was found on Monday after a search of several hours, reports the BBC.

The intrepid vicar had been undertaking a strenuous Lenten pilgrimage inspired by the Celtic tradition, by rowing from his home of Burton Bradstock in Dorset to the remote Pendower Beach near Falmouth in Cornwall, according to The Daily Mail.

Thorn, a married father of four, sent a message to his parishioners in the newsletter before he set off, writing, "When I say, please pray for me, I have to say that I would love sunny skies and warm, helping breezes, but they are not for you to ask. They will be as they are. But I do ask your prayers, please, for the fortitude of God being with me, to be strong and of a good courage."

Though the outgoing leg of the pilgrimage went smoothly, with Thorn breaking up the 150-mile journey into short stages, it seems that he got into difficulties on his way back. Police and coastguards began searching for him after his 10-foot wooden boat was found washed ashore with nothing in it but his Bible, according to the Telegraph. After a search of several hours, his body was found in a cove a few hundred feet away from the boat, a mere five miles from his final destination.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Salisbury, which includes Burton Bradstock, told the Daily Mail, "Bob was a larger than life character and rowing was something that was extremely important to him - he was big into it. He was really into Celtic spirituality, and very much into rowing off to places, praying, and rowing back again."

Thorn was a musician and active member of the folk scene in Bristol in the 1970s. Two of his albums, "2nd Best Guitar" and "The Shortest River" were recorded in Dorset.

Thorn explained his motivation for the difficult trip in a newsletter to his congregation, writing:

I am taking off to find out in my own self what the Celtic saints were after when they went off alone, and sat either rapt in glory or in a state of holy grumpiness in either squalid or splendid isolation.

I shall be going down to stop in a small hut at the top of a sea wall at the end of a village in Cornwall. There is no water or electricity, and I shall be making shift for food. The Celtic Christian saints were ascetic to a reckless degree, and I need to make some shift in that direction to be able to understand something of what they were about.

Then I shall row home again.

Do you think I am mad? Answers please, on the back of a piece of seaweed.

His death is not being treated as suspicious.


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