The village of Walsingham, four miles inland from Wells on the north coast of Norfolk,was revived as a place of pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady during the 20th century. Its story began in 1061 when a noble lady called Richeldis experienced a vision in which she was asked to build a replica, in England, of the Holy House in Nazareth. The shrine was a major pilgrimage centre in medieval times until its closure and near-destruction at the Reformation. The old Slipper Chapel outside the village was rescued in the late 19th Century by Charlotte Boyd who presented it to Downside Abbey; the monks subsequently handed it into the care of Northampton Diocese. It was proclaimed the National Shrine of Our Lady in 1934 and the annual "Student Cross" pilgrimages began in 1948. Walsingham was in our Diocese until 1976 when the Diocese of East Anglia was separated off. In 1981 a larger chapel was built nearby for the use of increasing numbers of pilgrims, and in 2006 the little Catholic church in the village itself was rebuilt.
As well as hosting numerous pilgrimages for Dioceses,Orders, Societies and language-groups, Walsingham is the venue for two major camping conferences, New Dawn and Youth 2000, both in August.
Walsingham remains an almost-unspoilt rural village of great peace and beauty, with an emphasis on religion which is highly unusual in the UK, and is well worth a trip even if you are not part of an organised pilgrimage.
This year's pilgrimage was on 8th June 2019
This report was included in the Diocesan e-newsletter sent out by Neil Roseman on 2nd July
On 8th June, hundreds of pilgrims travelled from our diocese to Walsingham for the annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham.
Led by Bishop Peter Doyle and directed by Deacon Michael Fleming, our pilgrimage began with an opening Mass in the packed Chapel of Reconciliation. The planned outside picnic had to be replaced by finding room inside as the rain came down (that day was one of those many, in the first half of June, which were blighted by rain - Ed ) but our spirits were not dampened. An impressive number of people, including Bishop Peter then processed behind the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham along the old railway path through the village of Walsingham and finishing at the original site of the Holy House.
Mgr John Armitage, Rector of the Shrine, encouraged all present to pray the Angelus daily so as to build a relationship with Mary, our Mother.
This simple challenge was well received with many pilgrims choosing to begin this immediately. More pictures from the pilgrimage can be found here
The 2018 Pilgrimage was on Saturday 9th June.
Here is a report from Marguerite Cook - many thanks for sending it so promptly !
"On Saturday 9th June 2018 the Northampton Diocesan Pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady Walsingham was led by Bishop Peter. The title of this years pilgrimage was, " Woman who followed Him" (a line from the Walsingham Litany)
Bishop Peter had, the day before, celebrated 50 years as a priest, so this was a very special weekend. A large number of parishioners from the Diocese of Northampton flocked to Walsingham by coach and car, to give honour to Our Lady, on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.A lovely Mass was said by Bishop Peter, and his fellow priests, at midday in the Chapel of Reconciliation. The Chapel was packed with parishioners, with many having to use the seating in the outside space. I
In the afternoon at 3 pm; the pilgrims walked along the processional route. The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, adorned with beautiful flowers, was carried at the head of the procession leading the way to the Priory Grounds. Along the route the rosary was said, and hymns to Our Lady were sung.
The Priory Grounds is the site of the 11th century Anglo-Saxon shrine of the Holy House of Nazareth.
Walsingham is a place of prayer, and a special service was said by Bishop Peter close to the remains of the imposing ruin of the Priory arch in the Priory Grounds; and so a wonderful day concluded."
As the time for each year's pilgrimage draws near, watch out for posters and announcements, and enquire within your own parish first to see if there is an organised trip. For other enquiries, e-mail Deacon Michael Fleming at St Gregory's, Northampton, or ring their parish office 01604 713015 to be put in touch with him.
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More photos from previous years are below. .
These are by Peter Frost, from 2016