A successful Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham

On Saturday 27th April, Bishop Philip Moger, Auxiliary Bishop ofr Southwark and former Rector of the Walsingham National Catholic Shrine, led the Annual Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham, accompanied by several members of Southwark clergy and around 180 lay-pilgrims

Fathers Simon Heans, James Clark, Bishop Moger and Canon Branch at Walsingham

Fathers Christopher Pearson and James Clark with Bishop Philip Moger, Canon Michael Branch and lay-pilgrims at Walsingham.

Walsingham Shrine came into being through three Marian visions in the Middle Ages to Richeldis de Faverches, a Christian noblewoman and the Lady of Walsingham Manor. Our Blessed Mother asked Richeldis to build a replica, on her own grounds, of the Holy House where the Annunciation took place over 2000 years ago.

Despite extensive building challenges, according to the Pynson Ballad (c.1485), the Holy House was miraculously completed in 1061, with angels witnessed singing as they departed by Richeldis. It became known as 'England's Nazareth': a place of devotion for crusaders and a safe place of prayer during the crusades themselves. Our Lady promised that 'All who come there shall find help in their need', and pilgrims are still encouraged to bring personal petitions, and those of family and friends, to seek the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham.

During the Archdiocesan Southwark Pilgrimage, all welcomed the opportunity to attend Confession, Adoration and to pray the Rosary before participating in a special Marian Pilgrimage Mass celebrated by Bishop Moger and Archdiocesan clergy. St George's Cathedral's Director of Music, Jonathan Schranz, led the pilgrims in joyful singing and Deacon Frazer Bellfield assisted during the liturgy and in leading the Rosary on the coach.

During the Mass, Bishop Philip reminded the pilgrims that, like the challenging building of the replica Holy House, we may face difficulties in our life journey, but that Mary is a mother who watches over her children, cares for them and intervenes: "The reassurance given to Mary is the reassurance that each of us is given: 'Do not be afraid'"

Read Bishop Philip's Pilgrimage Homily

Following Mass and lunch, the pilgrims walked in procession with spiritual banners to the ancient Abbey grounds for afternoon Benediction, with those unable to walk transported by bus. Afterwards, there was an opportunity for pilgrims to relax together and enjoy shopping and local hospitality, while some took the opportunity to visit the Anglican Shrine.

As Christians, we are all on a pilgrimage toward our heavenly home.  May we have the courage to place all our needs before Mary, who points the way to her son, in whom we can trust.

Images from the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Walsingham

About Walsingham

Walsingham, in north Norfolk, has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times, when travel to Rome and Compostella was virtually impossible, and when Jerusalem was under Muslim occupation.

The original Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, was founded in 1061 after Richeldis de Faverches, the Lady of the Manor of Walsingham, received a vision in which Our Lady asked her to build a replica of the Holy House in which the Annunciation took place.  This was to be a place of prayer and devotion for crusaders, and became known as 'England's Nazareth'.  Pilgrims soon flocked to the area, with various Orders establishing houses to care for their needs. King Henry III became Patron of the Shrine in 1226 and chapels were erected along the road to Walsingham, the last of which was dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria, Patron Saint of the Holy Land Pilgrims. This became known as the Slipper Chapel, as pilgrims would approach it barefoot as a sign of respect.

The miraculously built site was destroyed during the Reformation in 1538 and many barren years passed until the Slipper Chapel was restored and pilgrimage to Walsingham was recommenced.  In 1897 Pope Leo XIII permitted the Shrine to be re-established, with the first public pilgrimage to Walsingham since the Reformation taking place on 20th August 1897.

In 1934, the English Bishops named the Slipper Chapel the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady. The chapel lies just over one mile from Walsingham and is located in a hamlet called Houghton St Giles. Since the declaration, many thousands of people have visited the Slipper Chapel and Shrine. Pilgrims describe the atmosphere of peace that seems to emanate from the chapel.

Prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham

O blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon us, our parish, our country, our homes, and our families, and upon all who greatly hope and trust in your prayers.

By you it was that Jesus, our Saviour and hope, was given to the world; and he has given you to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us your children, whom you did 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 your Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we all may be made worthy to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home. Amen.

Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us.