Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Virtual Pilgrimage to Walsingham - Day I

Today the Latin Mass Society is beginning its annual three day Pilgrimsge to Walsingham. In this year of Covid-19 it is a virtual pilgrimage rather than a physical one, and looking at the rain falling at the moment makes me think that is a no bad thing for those who might have set out today to walk from Ely to Walsingham.

Thanks to the LMS livestream it is possible to join in spiritually from the comfort of home - which is not to say that in normal circumstances a degree of discomfort or inconvenience is not an often meritorious aspect of going on pilgrimage.

The online session began with a votive Mass at the restored Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden in north London. There the original shrine certainly existed by 1249, when it boasted two statues of the Virgin. The Black Madonna, visited by St Thomas More amongst others, was destroyed in 1538. A new Catholic shrine has revived the devotion, as has one in its original home at the Anglican parish church. This was revived in 1902 and a new statue was dedicated in 1972 by the then Bishop of Willesden, the future Msgr. Graham Leonard. As with the Shrines at Walsingham the two communities cooperate in bearing witness to Our Lady.

This was followed by four meditations on the Pilgrimage themes. Presented in different ways these linked their respective themes together to set out the spiritual terrain to be traversed.

Dr Joe Shaw, Chairman of the LMS, spoke of the history of the Society’s pilgrimages and about the history of Walsingham, including the new theories about the possible survival of the medieval statue - I shall post about that separately.  

Canon John Cahill from Leicester spoke about the inner journey undertaken by the individual pilgrim, and Fr James Mawdesley FSSP addressed the intention of the Pilgrimage, the Conversion of England and the renewal of faith here. Fr Tim Finigan introduced the recitation of the Rosary with reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries. These are, or will be, available on the LMS YouTube site.

Following the midday Angelus from Portsea the virtual pilgrims were free to go and walk in their own locality and enter this towards the total of miles walked to England’s Nazareth. Not being really able to do that at the moment myself I wonder if, adapting the old Yellow Pages advert, I can let my fingers do the walking as I type my blog?

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