On Saturday 8th June hundreds of pilgrims from across our diocese travelled to the National Catholic Shrine of Our Lady in Walsingham.

Walsingham, in North Norfolk, has been a place of pilgrimage since medieval times, when travel to pilgrimage sites further afield, lie Rome or Compostela was virtually impossible.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham was destroyed in during the Reformation having been founded in 1061. Pilgrimages only restarted once the Slipper Chapel, a wayside pilgrim chapel from the 14th century was restored. The Slipper Chapel was declared the National Shrine of Our Lady for Catholics in England in 1934. Our own diocesan Bishop, Lawrence Youens led the bishops of England and Wales on pilgrimage together with 10,000 pilgrims. The Shrine at this point was part of the Diocese of Northampton which consisted of the counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk until 1976.

Over 150,00 pilgrims travel to Walsingham each year with 35 major pilgrimages including diocesan, ethnic groups, Catholic Societies and Associations, parish and overseas groups.

In 2015, Bishop Alan Hopes read out a decree from the Vatican during a pontifical Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady of Reconciliation, stating that Pope Francis was pleased to confer the title of Minor Basilica upon the Shrine precinct. Walsingham is now one of three Minor Basilica’s in England alongside St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham and Downside Abbey Church.

Fr Simon Penhalagan led the diocesan pilgrimage which began with Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady before lunch followed by a walking pilgrimage along the holy mile to the Abbey Grounds in the village of Walsingham.  

Pictures from the pilgrimage can be viewed here