The national shrine of our lady
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.
Walsingham hosts numerous pilgrimages for Dioceses, Orders, Societies and other groups.
Walsingham remains an almost-unspoilt rural village of great peace and beauty, with an emphasis on religion, and is well worth a trip at any time.
Our pilgrimage in 2019
Led by Bishop Peter Doyle (now Emeritus) 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, but our spirits were not dampened. An impressive number of people, including Emeritus 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.
Any young people wishing to travel to Lourdes as part of the Diocesan pilgrimage should contact our diocesan Youth Ministry Office, NYMO either by phone on 01582 720627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I am the Immaculate Conception
Lourdes is a town in the south of France where, in 1858 Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette, asking three things of the girl; to build a church on the site, to drink from the spring and to tell the people to come in procession. These elements of the apparitions (Mary’s appearances) are still the main parts of any pilgrimage to Lourdes to this day.
Over the years, the Catholic Church has, after a long period of discernment and investigation confirmed miracles occurring in Lourdes. Most of the miracles occur in front of the blessed Sacrament. For this reason, many of those on pilgrimage in Lourdes are sick and require assistance. This too, is a key part of pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Each August, our diocese joins the Archdiocese of Southwark and the diocese of East Anglia and Clifton as part of the Catholic Association on pilgrimage to Lourdes.