Walsingham Pilgrimage 2009


Social and Fundraising events

Visits and Pilgrimages

On Friday 10th July a small group from St.  Michael’s set off for a weekend at a theme park.  The theme park was in Walsingham, Norfolk and this was a theme park with a difference.  When we arrived we had a short time to unpack before going to the Shrine for Mass, this was followed by Evening Prayer and Shrine Prayers.  We then had a break for dinner before gathering with another group for The First Visit to the Holy House where we were, silently, to think of our intensions for the weekend.  Some of our group then went to sample the Walsingham night life.

 After starting off Saturday with a full cooked breakfast we joined another group for Mass.  This was followed by the Stations of the Cross which we did with just our small group.  Bishop Lyndsay later told us how he loves Saturday mornings as he sits in his office overlooking the quiet garden, where the first Station is, and can hear group after group setting off on their journey following Jesus’ last hours, most groups singing as they go, some more in tune than others.  The journey takes you around the gardens to the three enormous crosses at Calvary and into the tomb.  He also later told us how someone had told him that Walsingham is just a religious theme park, which he says it is but you need to know the theme, which is grace.  He told us a story about how he had prepared his first group for Confirmation and was very pleased with himself as no group had ever been so well prepared before.  On the day before the Confirmation they met the Bishop who talked to them and asked them all sorts of questions, at the end he asked if anyone had any question to which one of them put up their hand and asked ‘ well I know who Mary is, but who is Grace?’

After Lunch we had a free afternoon to do what ever we wished, some did a bit a shopping in the wonderful shops of Walsingham which sell everything you could want from Rosaries and religious books to crucifixes and Incense, (the choir will be especially pleased to note that we replenished our stock of Rosa Mystica, a special, strong smelling incense we use for festivals at St.  Michael’s), others rested, while one ran the Holy Mile (which is actually 1 ¼ miles) to the Slipper chapel and back (although she didn’t do it barefoot as is traditional).

After dinner we gathered with everyone staying at the Shrine for the Procession of Our Lady and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by an opportunity to receive Laying on of hands, anointing and to go to Confession.  Paul had been selected to be Crucifer for the Procession and led us around the Shrine grounds as we sang the Walsingham hymn.  Saturday finished with some of us again sampling the local night life.

The Laity among our Pilgrims were up bright and early for another cooked breakfast before we all set off to the local parish church for Mass.  Then it was back for lunch before gathering again at the Shrine church for Sprinkling.  This is a service where you are invited to drink from the Walsingham Well, then signed with the sign of the cross with the water on your forehead before holding out your hands to have the water poured over you hands.  We were then invited to find somewhere quiet to sit for a short while.  From there we rushed over for a quick Tea, without any cake as it had all run out by the time we got there, before gathering again for The Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.  This time Paul had been asked to be one of the two Thurifers who led the procession around the Shrine grounds, from what I could see Paul seemed to be making much more smoke come from his Thurible than the other lad! This was followed by Benediction and finally by the Last Visit before packing up and returning home.

Although the weekend pilgrimage is crammed full of different services, some of which are very moving, there is still plenty of free time to spend either quietly reflecting, enjoying yourself or resting.  The accommodation is basic with just a small room with a bed and shared bathroom but it is full board and there is plenty to eat.  If you have never been to Walsingham it is certainly worth a visit, next years Pilgrimage is already booked (16th – 18th July 2010) and it is hoped that we may be able to have a day trip there soon.