Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, England
Pilgrimage to the Land Known as "Our Lady's Dowry"
O England great cause thou hast glad for to be
Compared to the land of promise Sion
To be called in every realm and region
The Holy Land, Our Lady's Dowry ...
For the next 2 weeks (September 15 through October 1), I will be on a blogging hiatus, as my family will be vacationing in England. This trip abroad, however, will be much more than a vacation. The focal point of our journey will be a pilgrimage to Little Walsingham in Norfolk, East Anglia - site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, my family's patroness.
Walsingham has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times. At one time, it was ranked among the 3 most important pilgrimage sites in Europe, along with Santiago de Compostela and Rome.
The original Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was founded in 1061 by Richeldis de Faverches, who was taken in spirit to Nazareth and asked by Our Lady to build a replica, in Norfolk, of the Holy House of the Annunciation. The Shrine of the Holy House stood for almost 500 years as a place of devotion to the Holy Virgin Mother of God and the Incarnation of Her Son, before it was destroyed by Henry VIII at the Reformation.
Many barren years passed until the Slipper Chapel, a 14th century wayside pilgrim chapel just outside the village of Little Walsingham, was restored and pilgrimage to Walsingham in honor of Our Blessed Lady began once more. Originally dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, this wayside chapel had served medieval pilgrims on their way to England's Nazareth. Just as on Mount Sinai Moses took off his shoes because he was on holy ground, so pilgrims used to remove their shoes at the Slipper Chapel (hence, its name) and walk the Holy Mile into Walsingham barefoot.
In 1934, the English Bishops named the Slipper Chapel the Roman Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady. The Slipper Chapel's first Mass since the Reformation was celebrated there on August 15, 1934, and on September 8, 1938, the Shrine was re-consecrated by the local Bishop. The most important image in the Chapel is the Statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Pilgrimage Theme: Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
We will be visiting the Shrine on Saturday, September 24, which is the Solemnity of Our Lady of Walsingham. The shrine's website describes the pilgrimage theme in this Year of the Eucharist as follows:
Our pilgrimage theme for 2005 is “At the school of Mary; woman of the Eucharist”. The Pope’s words in his homily for the Mass to open the Year of the Eucharist told us what is required. “In this Year of the Eucharist, the Christian community is invited to become more aware of the mystery through a more deeply felt celebration, prolonged and fervent adoration and a greater commitment to brotherhood and the service of the least. In the footsteps of Mary, “woman of the Eucharist” the Christian community lives this mystery! Strengthened by the “bread of eternal life”, it becomes a presence of light and life, a leaven of evangelisation and solidarity.”Your Prayers Are Requested
I will begin praying the Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Walsingham on September 16, continuing through the 9 days leading up to Our Lady's feast day on September 24. I request that you please join my family in praying to Our Blessed Lady, to St. George, to St. Thomas More, to St. Thomas Becket and to all the English saints and martyrs that we will enjoy a safe journey and receive a spiritual blessing on our pilgrimage to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
NOTE: It is my hope and my intention that I will be able to blog sporadically while in England, so that I may update you on the progress of our pilgrimage - so please check in over the next 2 weeks to see if I've added anything. There is a very good chance, however, that blogging will be impossible due to logistical considerations. If that is the case, I hope you will return to read this blog at the beginning of October, at which time I hope to blog in considerable detail about our pilgrimage experiences. In the meantime, please check out the many excellent blogs and websites that I have linked to on the right-hand side of the page.
UPDATE: Recta Ratio has a nice post on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Walsingham.