Walsingham Pilgrimage 2008

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Visits and Pilgrimages

On 11th July a small group from St.  Michaelís set out on our annual pilgrimage to Walsingham.The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is in Norfolk and pilgrims have been visiting it since the middle of the 11th century.

The Lady of the Manor, Richeldis De Faverches saw a vision of Our Lady holding in her hand the house in Nazareth.She was told to build in Walsingham a replica of the house where the Annunciation took place, so that pilgrims who could not go all the way to Nazareth could go there.Richeldis ordered the house to be built and it soon became popular with pilgrims.Later a Priory was built to care for the spiritual needs of the pilgrims.Later the Slipper chapel was built; it was here that pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk the last ĎHoly Mileí (about 1 1/3 miles) to the shrine barefoot.

There were many Royal pilgrims including King Henry VIII who visited the shrine on several occasions.However, during the dissolution of the monasteries the Holy House was burnt to the ground, the Priory closed and the statue of Our Lady destroyed.This didnít deter the pilgrims who gradually returned.

In the 1930ís a new shrine was built.This is made up of the Holy House and Well inside the shrine church.There is also accommodation for pilgrims and a refectory, which serves 3 delicious hot meals a day to pilgrims.In the well cared for grounds are the Stations of the Cross, including 3 large wooden crosses at Calvary, and the altar of light, which can be used for outdoor services.

When we arrived, we found our rooms, deposited our luggage and then made our way, quickly to the shrine church for the First Visit.Here we started the pilgrimage by thinking of our intentions for the weekend and visited the Holy House.The Shrine Mass followed at 6pm , after which Evening Prayer was said, followed by the Shrine Prayers, where the Rosary is said.After an exhausting afternoon of Worship we made our way to the cafeteria for a delicious dinner.Later in the evening some of the group sampled the night life of Walsingham before returning to our accommodation before the lock up time of 11pm and discovering what odd programs there are on late night TV.

The next morning we were up, bright and early for mass, which Fr David had arranged just for our group, at 8:15 am in the Holy House.Breakfast came after Mass, which was followed by Stations of the Cross, which we had to do indoors because of the bad weather.The rest of the day was free for us to do as we wished; reading, shopping, going for a walk or catching up on some sleep.

That evening, mass took place in the Shrine Church, dinner followed, during which we were joined by a group from Guilford Cathedral, who shared 2 bottles of Description: Picture 102.jpg (389692 bytes)wine with us.At 8:15pm there was a candle-lit procession of Our Lady, in which a statue of Our Lady Of Walsingham was carried around the Grounds while everybody sang the 37 versed Walsingham hymn.Paul had been asked to be Thurifer for this and made a good job of leading us around the grounds.This was followed by Benediction and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.After this, most of the group again went into town to sample the night life, and most of us were back before the doors were locked on the Accommodation building at 11 pm.

At 11 am on Sunday morning there was mass at the Parish church of St Maryís, Little Walsingham.So we didnít have to get up so early, a fact which Fr David was clearly pleased about when he sauntered into the Cafeteria for breakfast just as the rest of the group had finished eating.

Mass was attended by several of the pilgrim churches who were staying at the Shrine.After Mass we made our way back to the cafeteria for lunch, there was no time for a rest today as Sprinkling, using the water from the Well, followed by Laying on of Hands was at 2.30 pm.We then rushed to have tea before returning for the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction at 4 pm.Paul had once again been asked to be Thurifer and Fr David had been asked to take Benediction.We processed around the grounds of the Shrine again being led by the servers and Fr David holding the Blessed Sacrament while we sang.After this it was time for the Last Visit, a moving short service leaving at least one pilgrim in tears, then time to head off for home.Next years pilgrimage has already been booked, if youíve never been to Walsingham it is the most wonderful place to go.Although the weekend is busy with lots of services there is plenty of time to use as you wish and time to stop and reflect and be with the Lord.The accommodation is basic, but comfortable and the food is excellent.Those of us who went this year have been going for several years, it would be nice if next year we had a few new faces join us, until youíve tried it you donít know what you are missing.

By Carol and Paul