Newspaper photographs of the pair have adorned his private chapel at Bishopthorpe Palace since they both vanished over a decade ago.
Madeleine vanished from her bed in a holiday apartment at a resort in Praia da Luz in the Algarve region of Portugal in May 2007 just days before her fourth birthday.
Meanwhile Claudia, 33, was last seen near her home in Melrosegate, Heworth, York, on the afternoon of March 18. 2009. Though police have treated the case as murder, the mystery remains unresolved.
“I light a candle for them every day,” the Archbishop told The Yorkshire Post ahead of his retirement this weekend.
“Again, if I leave here with a disappointment, it is we still don’t know what happened to Claudia Lawrence.
“I’m still hoping Madeleine is still alive and she will be reunited with her parents.”
Speaking before this week’s dramatic disclosure that a convicted paedophile behind bars in a German prison was being investigated over Madeleine’s disappearance, Dr Sentamu says the power of prayer has sustained his long-held belief that the youngster will – one day – be reunited with her parents Gerry and Kate McCann.
“There’s a thing in me every time I pray about her, I’m not praying about somebody’s death. I’m actually with Madeleine,” he went on.
“In the first year of her disappearance, she was almost very close to me you know – just extraordinary – and I was being commanded ‘Pray, pray, pray’.
“She became so much part of me. I don’t know, it’s extraordinary, difficult to describe. So much presence that there wasn’t an hour that passed without me praying to God about Madeleine.
“There’s almost been an expectation for me that suddenly she walks through the door. That’s not wishful thinking, it is just so palpable.”
He added: “I will be leaving Bishopthorpe Palace and York but I’m not leaving the memory of Madeleine or that of Claudia.”
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