A NUN who has spent 12 years travelling the world with a three foot statue of the Virgin Mary is spreading her message of faith in the borough.

Sister Ruth Augustus has visited 200 countries with the fibreglass statue and is currently staying in Edmonton as she completes the last leg of her UK tour.

She is spending her time talking to people on the streets and in pubs, shops, hospitals and nursing homes to promote the work of the Catholic Church and the Bible.

The 62-year-old, who grew up in Birmingham, is already familiar with the area. More than 30 years ago she worked for a children's charity in Winchmore Hill.

She said: "Edmonton is a very cultured place. I really want to get to know the area and the people. I stay in a place for as long as it takes.

"I like being in areas where there is great need. People tell me the most terrible stories, I listen and pray with them, as people get a lot of comfort from that.

Sister Augustus says public response from people of all faiths and backgrounds is generally good.

She was well received by prostitutes in the red light district of Amsterdam and has recently spent time praying with London firemen during the fire strikes.

She has feared for her own life on occasions during her travels. Her suitcases have been emptied in the street, threatened with jail, groped, pushed and verbally abused.

Despite the dangers, she still keeps going. With 20 countries left to cover Sister Augustus calculates that her mission will take another two years.

She added: "I have visited some very poor countries. It is heartbreaking to see the state of the world. People in Africa are dying of AIDS, and in the west people are becoming more and more materialistic.

"When I came back to England it is like another land. People take health care and education for granted, they seem to have little idea how people live.

"I do risk my life doing this, but my faith keeps me going. I feel I have a special duty to England."