Our Lady of Walsingham
Today is the annual diocesan pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Walsingham, a little village near the Norfolk coast.
The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham was established in 1061 when, according to the text of the Pynson Ballad (c. 1485), Richeldis de Faverches prayed that she might undertake some special work in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In answer to her prayer, Our Lady led her in spirit to Nazareth, showed her the ‘holy house’, the place where she received the Archangel Gabriel and assented to bring forth to the world its Saviour, and asked her to build a replica of the holy house in Walsingham to serve as a perpetual memorial of the Annunciation.
This Holy House was built and a religious community took charge of the foundation. The Augustinian canons built a priory in the twelfth century, and Walsingham became one of Christendom’s greatest shrines, until it was destroyed during the Reformation. In 1896 Charlotte Pearson Boyd purchased the fourteenth-century Slipper Chapel – the last of the wayside chapels en-route to Walsingham, so named because pilgrims would remove their footwear to walk the last mile to the abbey barefoot – and restored it for Catholic use. In 1897, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Walsingham was restored, and in 1934, the Slipper Chapel was declared to be the National Shrine of Our Lady for Catholics in England. Today, pilgrims from the dioceses of England, Mary’s Dowry, visit the shrine to pray and honour Our Lady. We unite ourselves with her and them, that we may welcome Christ into our hearts and bring him to birth in the world:
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that as in the mystery of the Incarnation the Blessed and ever Virgin Mary conceived your Son in her heart before she conceived him in the womb, so we, your pilgrim people, rejoicing in her motherly care, may welcome him into our hearts and become a holy house fit for his eternal dwelling. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For further information on the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, please visit: www.walsingham.org.uk/romancatholic