The annual Catholic diocesan pilgrimage to Walsingham took place on Saturday 10th June.

500 pilgrims from across the diocese of Northampton travelled by coach and car to arrive at the Catholic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham with many setting off early morning to arrive in time for the midday Mass.

The Shrine at Walsingham, a village in north Norfolk, was established in 1061. The Lady Richeldis was a holy woman who prayed and meditated. Mary responded to her prayers by leading her spirit to the house of the Annunciation in the Holy Land, where the Angel Gabriel asked Mary to be the mother of Jesus. This prompted the Lady Richeldis to build a replica house in Walsingham as a perpetual reminder of the Annunciation. Pilgrims have travelled to Walsingham since 1897 when the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom bought the first pilgrimage.

Pilgrimages to the Catholic Shrine at Walsingham centre around the Slipper Chapel where a replica of the medieval statue is enthroned. The care taken to mirror the original statue leads people in devotion to this small chapel for prayer and to ask for her intercession. In 1982, the statue was taken from Walsingham to Wembley where she was positioned on the altar whilst Pope John Paul ii celebrated Mass.  Catholic’s do not pray to Mary, only praying to God himself, however they ask Mary, as his Mother to pray with them and intercede on their behalf.

The pilgrimage from Northampton began with Mass at midday followed by lunch and some time to visit the sites of the Shrine. At 3pm the pilgrims began the Holy Mile walk to the Abbey grounds and the site of the original house built by the Lady Richeldis. Along the walk pilgrims followed the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham and were led by the cross of Jesus Christ. The 500 pilgrims prayed the rosary and sung Marion songs until they arrived at the Abbey. The timetable was completed on the hottest day of the year and the occasional breeze was welcomed by all.

Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton led the pilgrimage and encouraged the pilgrims to expect great things saying

“The Lord will do great things when we turn to him in hope and expectant prayer”.

More pictures from the pilgrimage can be viewed on our Flickr site here 

The next diocesan pilgrimage will be on July 7th to Northampton Cathedral when the relics of Saint Thomas Becket will be on display.