Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. In recent years this has become established alongside the celebration of Our Lady of Ransom as the day of the national commemoration of the Shrine, which this year is celebrating the 950th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady to Richeldis.
The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Slipper Chapel
The re-establishment of Walsingham as a place of pilgrimage is one of the most remarkable achievements of English Christianity in the twentieth century, and it has been accompanied by valuable bridge-building in recent decades between Catholics and Anglicans. There are links to the websites of both shrines here.
Walsingham is, as I once heard it described, a "graced place" and where as someone once made the point to me one feels at home because one is at home with our Mother. I have appreciated and enjoyed many pilgrimages there as part of my own pilgrimage of faith.
I am always touched by the story of Fr Hope-Patten, the Anglican restorer of the Shrine, being called to the stage of, I think, the Royal Albert Hall at one of the Anglo-Catholic Congresses when his worlk and vbeen praised and it was realised that he was in the audience. When, through the applause, he came to the microphone and, with that definite sense of ecclesial panache without which he would never have achieved what he did, simply siad "All I did was have a statue of Our Lady carved and set up, and she did all the rest." Tumultuous applause.
The statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Holy House at the Anglican Shrine in festal array.Well, Our Lady seems to be continuing to work through Walsingham, not least at the moment with the Ordinariate which takes its name from here, but also through the individual devotion she encourages amongst so many.
Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us