|Go on pilgrimage with our Mystery Worshipper to one of the UK’s most sacred places, the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Recline with him on the springy North Norfolk earth to hear a sermon preached by none other than the Preacher to the Papal Household. Sing with him a variety of hymns ranging from the slushy to the vulgarly robust. And judge for yourself whether the nun leading the Rosary could count to ten! Be all that as it may, the experience was close to heaven for our Mystery Worshipper. Reminisce with him in a nearby pub (passing up tea and vespers) how he felt happier to be a Christian than he’s been in a long time!
> Close to heaven: National Pilgrimage, Walsingham, UK
Christmastide is as good a time as any to be reminded of the place of Our Lady (The Blessed Virgin Mary) in our Christian Tradition.
Having, in 1961, myself journeyed to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, in Norfolk, England; I am aware of the differences that have been made in that place – which has long been a choice for the pilgrimage of many people – not only in the British Isles but from around the Christian world.
In 1961, what was then the ‘Slipper Chapel (owned by the Roman Catholics) – where pilgrims removed their shoes to walk barefoot to the Shrine – was a very small sanctuary about a mile away from the Shrine itself, which was located not far from the Anglican parish Church of Walsingham.
Now, that small chapel has been converted into a very large Church, which is still owned by the R.C.s and has become the main focus of their pilgrimage.
However, at the site of the original Shrine (owned by Anglicans but now shared by the Catholics), the most splendidly decorated church is that of the Anglican Church administered by a team of Guardians of the Shrine, with the Roman Catholics having their own chapel within the grounds. There is also a small Orthodox chapel in the Anglican Shrine – as well as an Orthodox chapel in the Village of Walsingham
At certain times of the year – especially on Feast Days of the BVM – both Anglicans and Roman Catholics have their own parish and national pilgrimages, but there are also occasions of a joint pilgrimage, such as is described here, in the linked article – above.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand