FR. ANDREW WRITES:
Earlier this year a group of parishioners went on pilgrimage to Walsingham. On Thursday, we celebrated the Memoria of Our Lady of Walsingham. Walsingham is the national shrine to Our Lady in this country and is based in a picturesque village in North Norfolk. The shrine dates back to the 11th century when a noblewoman called Richeldis de Faverches had a dream in which Our Lady appeared and showed her a picture of the Holy House at Nazareth. Our Lady asked her to build a copy of the Holy House, which she did. Walsingham celebrates the joy of the annunciation and the good news of redemption. Walsingham soon became a site of pilgrimage. In 1153 a group of Augustinian Canons founded a Priory there and it was here that the replica of the Holy House was based which increased its popularity. Many kings and queens of England came on pilgrimage, including, Edward I, Richard II and even Henry VIII. Sadly during the Reformation Walsingham, like many shrines in this country, was destroyed by Henry VIII. In 1538 the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was taken to Chelsea and publically burnt and the Holy House was destroyed later that year. For almost 400 years the shrine at Walsingham was deserted except for the occasional pilgrim. In the 19th century following Catholic Emancipation (1829) there was a great revival of Catholic Faith known as the ‘Second Spring.’ Many converts came to the Faith including, Blessed John Henry Newman and Charlotte Boyd. Charlotte Boyd was a wealthy lady who had a particular interest in medieval shrines and she purchased the Slipper Chapel at Walsingham, the only remaining building to survive destruction of the Shrine at the Reformation. On the 20th of August 1897 the first public pilgrimage to Walsingham took place. The first public Mass was celebrated in the Slipper Chapel in 1933 and in 1934 the Slipper Chapel was declared the National Shrine to Our Lady. During the Papal visit of St John Paul II in 1982 the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was placed on the Papal altar at Wembley. Walsingham continues to be an important place of pilgrimage which I encourage you to visit.
Our Lady of Walsingham…pray for us
(References: www.walsingham.org.uk and ‘A Year with the English Saints’ (CTS: London, 2004)
Our Lady of Walsingham - Prayer for England
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope, was given unto the world and he has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen.